What the heck is a golden passport? - The Hustle
The Hustle

What the heck is a golden passport?

The ultra-wealthy are paying big bucks for the right to travel freely throughout Europe.

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Aside from breathtaking views, the small Mediterranean island of Malta offers a unique opportunity to the ultra-wealthy: investment citizenship.

The European Union isn’t a fan, and recently took Malta to court over the controversial program.

The golden passport…

starts at $677.8k (€690k), not including background checks and legal fees. Since 2013, Malta has raised $1B (€1.1B) through the scheme.

EU officials claim the practice breaks EU law and poses multiple problems, including:

While it’s easy to imagine international criminals flocking to the program, most applicants are just looking for an easier way to travel, according to Dr. Kristin Surak, a professor at the London School of Economics.

Even if the EU wins…

… Malta has other options to lure investments from rich travelers.

Take Portugal, which offers a residence visa that allows non-Europeans to pay ~$200k for the right to live, work, and study in the country, and travel visa-free to most EU countries for five years, after which they can apply for full citizenship.

The country’s “golden visa” has raised ~$6B since 2012.

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