Emigration options for South Africans looking for residency and citizenship

If you’re one of the growing number of South Africans looking for a second residency or citizenship, there’s a country out there with your name on it. But make sure you do your homework, as residency and citizenship options are constantly evolving and changing.

One recent change saw Portugal, which offers a residency programme popular with South Africans, limit the purchase of qualifying residential property to its low density designated interior regions and increase the minimum investment applicable to its many other qualifying investment options.

However, there are still a broad range of residency and citizenship programmes available for South Africans either looking for a ‘Plan B’, or simply wanting to benefit from greater investment and business opportunities, tax efficiency, improved lifestyles, education options and greater freedom of movement, said Ceri Pratley, a residency and citizenship consultant at Sovereign Trust SA.

“Correctly planned and implemented, residency and citizenship programmes provide a solid foundation that enable individuals and families to build comprehensive, flexible and tax efficient wealth management strategies,” said Pratley.

“But it’s important to realise that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has different requirements and objectives, which means that alternative residency should be approached holistically.”

Navigating the range of options can be a daunting task, as there are various types of residency and citizenship programmes available, with different qualifying requirements applicable in each country.

Residency Programmes:

Citizenship Programmes:

Typically, they include a promise to obey and uphold that country’s laws and may include additional requirements such as demonstrating an adequate knowledge of a country’s language and culture. Most countries around the world offer this route to citizenship, but many have strict requirements to get residency in the first place.

“There are many points to consider before making a decision on where to emigrate – and it’s always advisable to seek professional assistance and start planning 12 to 18 months before heading abroad,” said Pratley.

Who offers which programmes:

By Ceri Pratley, a residency and citizenship consultant at Sovereign Trust SA.

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