Best Options To Establish Residency In Another Country

Why Would You Want To Establish Residency In Another Country?

Residency is one of the Five Flags of going offshore.

Why would you want to establish residency in another country? Two reasons—because you want to stay in the country beyond the period allowed of a tourist… or because you want what we refer to as a “backup residency.”

Backup residency is the right to show up and stick around in a country at some point in the future should life become unpleasant or unbearable in the place you’ve been calling home until that point.

Some countries make it difficult for foreigners to take up full-time residence (New Zealand, for example). Others roll out the welcome mat, offering residency options that come with discounts, tax breaks, and other benefits for those who qualify.

At last week’s conference in Panama City, we looked at the best current options for retiree residency (these are the programs that typically come with all the perks and tax breaks) and for backup residency…

Lowest Minimum Investment Requirements For Residency

Many countries offer residency to foreigners willing to make a direct investment. The concept is simple: Invest in the country, get residency. The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Panama are three of your best options if you’re looking to gain residency and earn a return while you’re at it.

Note that these programs are different from citizenship-by-investment programs. Invest-for-citizenship program typically require an ‘investment” that is really a donation to the state coffers.

Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador all offer invest-for-residency visa options. At the current rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso, you can qualify for Colombia’s invest-for-residency program with an investment of as little as US$23,000. That’s your most affordable option in this residency category.

Residency With The Lowest Monthly Income Requirements

One of the easiest residency options for the would-be retiree overseas can be a pensionado, or retiree, visa, if you qualify. You qualify by showing a monthly pension or, in some cases, other guaranteed monthly income. Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Belize all offer pensionado visa programs (the program is known as the Qualified Retired Person, or QRP, in Belize). The minimum monthly income requirements for these pensioner programs are as follows:

  • Colombia: US$650 per month at the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso
  • Ecuador: US$800 per month (plus an additional US$100 per month per dependent)
  • Panama: US$1,000 per month (plus an additional US$250 per month per dependent)
  • Nicaragua: US$600 per month (plus an additional US$150 per month per dependent)


Quickest Residency Leading To Obtaining Citizenship

Not all residency programs put you on a path for citizenship, and you should note that no pensionado residency program puts you on a path for citizenship (despite what some attorneys in some countries might tell you).

The current best residency-for-citizenship programs include those available in:

  • Dominican Republic (where you can apply for citizenship after six months of legal residency)
  • Paraguay (where you can apply for citizenship after three years of residency)
  • Ecuador (where you can apply for citizenship after three years of uninterrupted residency)
  • Uruguay (where you can apply for citizenship five years after filing for residency or only three years after filing for residency in the case of a family applying together)

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. We considered other residency visa options, as well, including what might be the most user-friendly visa program available anywhere in the world today, Panama’s Friendly Nations visa.

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