Montenegro has experienced robust economic growth in recent years, driven by its tourism industry, real estate development, and foreign direct investment.
Located in the heart of Europe, Montenegro provides easy access to major European markets and a gateway to the Adriatic Sea.
With a Montenegrin golden visa, you can diversify your real estate portfolio and capitalize on emerging business opportunities while also gaining approval to reside in a unique part of Europe.
Benefits of a Golden Visa in Montenegro
Acquiring the right to live and work in Montenegro is possible if you have access to investable capital.
Montenegro’s golden visa is an immigrant investor program allowing you to get a residence permit and even citizenship in the country.
There are different ways to acquire a golden visa. Which program suits you best depends on your budget and whether you are looking for temporary residency, permanent residency or to obtain Montenegrin citizenship.
With a residence permit in Montenegro, you and your family are entitled to a list of benefits:
- Stunning landscapes including mountains, beaches, and historical towns.
- Competitive cost of living.
- Affordable, high-quality real estate options.
- Excellent geographic location within Europe.
- Low taxes; between 9-15% corporate income tax, personal income tax, capital gains tax, and dividend tax.
- Availability of several international schools.
- Free medical treatment as a resident of Montenegro.
- Permanent resident status awarded after 5 years of temporary residency.
Additionally, Montenegro is a candidate for European Union (EU) membership, and the ongoing accession process has led to a series of reforms aimed at aligning its legal and economic systems with EU standards.
The current prognosis is that Montenegro will qualify for membership in 2025, which means you, as a golden visa holder, would also automatically be a resident of the EU.
Paths To Obtaining a Golden Visa
You must qualify for one of the following immigrant investor programs:
- Real estate investment: in residential, commercial, or tourism-related properties.
- Company investment: registering a company in Montenegro, purchasing an existing one, or become a shareholder in a local company.
- Citizenship by investment: obtaining Montenegrin citizenship through significant financial investment in government-approved projects.
- Yacht ownership investment:; purchasing a yacht and registering it in a Montenegrin marina for 90 days or more.
Following any of these immigrant investor programs will qualify you and, in some cases, your family for a golden visa.
Investing in Real Estate
As an immigrant investor, you can choose from a variety of property types when investing in Montenegro, these being:
- Residential, including apartments, villas, and houses
- Commercial, consisting of office spaces, retail units and industrial facilities
- Tourism-related properties such as hotels, resorts and other hospitality businesses.
To qualify you must be able to document at least 50% property ownership. Additionally, the real estate investment is required to include at least 12 square meters of liveable space per person on the application.
The downside of the real estate investment programme is that you are not allowed to extend your residency after one year if you, in the last year, have been out of the country for more than 30 days in total.
Investing in a Company
The quickest option to a golden visa is to incorporate a business. This option can be a one-person enterprise where you employ yourself as the director of the company.
Incorporating a company in Montenegro can be done in 2-4 weeks from overseas through a power of attorney. The costs for incorporation range from €2,000 to €15,000 depending on the type of business.
Once your company is incorporated, you then need to complete the immigrant investor program by entering the country and acquiring your residency permit. Your physical presence in the country is required to submit the application and pick up your government ID.
As for maintaining the business, there are a few things you will need to adhere to in order to keep your residency:
- You will need to pay rent for your company’s registered address or virtual office.
- Any taxes related to capital gains, income or dividends need to be reported and paid annually.
- A requirement is to maintain a payroll (for yourself) along with producing a financial statement at the end of the year. For this, you need a local accountant.
It is important to note that in the case of an unmarried couple, each person must individually undergo the immigrant investor program on their own behalf. In married couples, a visa can be extended to the partner of the company director.
Citizenship by Investment
The Montenegrin government launched the Citizenship by Investment Program in the summer of 2018. However, as of December 2022, the program has ended.
The program was designed to allow 2000 applicants to make a significant financial contribution between €250,000 to €450,000 to the country’s economy in exchange for Montenegrin citizenship.
While this was the most expensive way to obtain a golden visa, it was also the fastest option to gain citizenship. Read our guide to the Montenegrin Citizenship by Investment program, for a detailed run-down.
Investing in Yacht Ownership
If you are a sailing enthusiast, this option is for you. Montenegro’s stunning coastline and strategic location on the Adriatic Sea have contributed to the growth of its yachting industry.
Acquiring a visa by yacht ownership requires you to register your yacht in a Montenegrin marina for at least 90 days.
Both you, as the owner and your crew members can apply for a residence permit.
Risks of Investing in Montenegro
Since the war in Ukraine, there has been increased migration of individuals to Montenegro, which can slow process requests in financial services and immigration services unless expedited with professional assistance from experienced agents.
As a relatively small country with a developing economy, Montenegro may be vulnerable to fluctuations in global economic conditions, regional political tensions, and changes in government policies.
You should carefully monitor these factors and assess their potential impact if you choose to pursue an immigrant investor program.
Requirements and Time To Acquire a Golden Visa
The timeline for attaining a Montenegrin golden visa may vary depending on factors such as the type of investment:
- Incorporating a business: the fastest option. It will take you 2-4 weeks, depending on the type of business.
- Investment in real estate: can be established within 1-2 months, assuming you are quick to decide on buying your property in Montenegro.
- Golden visa by yacht investment: requires you to spend at least 90 days in a Montenegrin marina before applying for residency.
- Citizenship by investment: 12 months or more to clear.
What You Need To Apply
Once you have completed the immigrant investor program, you must submit the following documents to be eligible for residency:
- A copy of your valid passport. Your passport must not expire before the permit would (ensure passport validity for at least 15 months or longer).
- Proof of education.
- Proof of a clean criminal record. This applies to all applicants who are 16 or older. The criminal record must be issued no more than six months before the submission of the application.
- Proof of solvency by demonstrating that you have €3,650 deposited in a Montenegrin bank account. Or proof from your employer that your salary is at least €350 per month. For family applications, these numbers are multiplied by the total number of family members applying.
- Marriage certificate if you’re applying as a couple or family.
- Birth certificate for minor children.
- Proof you have somewhere to live in Montenegro (list nepokretnosti). Note that this applies both if you own your home and if you rent.
- The requirements for proof of employment vary between different municipalities.
- Proof you are enrolled in a health insurance program.
Generally, the process can take upwards of 45 days to complete. However, by working with knowledgeable professionals, you can expedite the process and maximize your chances of success.
Tiers: Temporary to Permanent Residency to Citizenship
The longer you hold your visa, the more permanent your residency in Montenegro becomes.
After meeting specific residency requirements and maintaining your investment, you may, after 5 years, become eligible to apply for permanent residency. Within those 5 years, you must spend at least 9 months per year in Montenegro.
Failing to do so will restart your temporary residency, and the countdown to permanent residency will begin from year one.
Once you have your permanent residency, you can leave the country for as long as you want.
Assuming you keep your permanent residency in Montenegro for an additional 5 years (having spent 10 years in Montenegro in total), you can apply for citizenship via naturalization.
Ready To Grab your Montenegrin Golden Visa?
Montenegro offers a unique blend of Mediterranean and Balkan cultures, providing residents with a rich and diverse lifestyle experience. Even if you don’t move here, it is worth a visit in this lifetime.
If you are ready to move or want more information on how to obtain your personal golden visa, don’t hesitate to contact me today. Myself and my team are here to help you every step of the way.