South African passport

South Africans can obtain foreign passports by purchasing real estate in other countries.

Buying property in these countries gives you a foreign passport

Several countries offer South Africans the possibility of acquiring foreign passports through the purchase of real estate.

South African passport

South Africans can obtain foreign passports by purchasing real estate in other countries.

COVID-19 and the consequences thereof have led to huge changes in priorities for many South Africans. The ability of many employees to work from home has been a catalyst to scores of South Africans semigrating to coastal and regional centres within South Africa.

There are also many South Africans who are looking to move abroad.  Many have bought or are in the process of buying properties outside of South Africa.  There is a range of options for South Africans who are eager to obtain foreign passports through the purchase of an overseas property.

International Liaison for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty group Grahame Diedericks said that the company has formed working relationships with their counterparts in other countries and therefore can assist the growing number of South Africans wishing to buy overseas properties.

Many countries have introduced schemes to attract foreign investment with great success. This has led to a number of countries offering citizenship through investment programmes.

“South Africans can get a very respectable bang for their buck, as well as a foreign residency in countries like Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Mauritius, all of which are fast-emerging as leading destinations for property investments that deliver returns,” Diedericks told Business Tech.


Since the Cypriot government’s decision in 2014 to offer Cyprus citizenship to foreign property investors, this island located in the Mediterranean has also grown exponentially in popularity among overseas investors.

“Cyprus has already issued more than 3,300 passports to foreign investors and their families, with property owners reaping the benefits. They are also earning a Euro-based income, with buy-to-let investments accounting for 25% of all property sales,” he said.


Heavily dependent on tourism in its earlier days, the EU state of Malta now has one of the strongest real estate industries in Europe due to stringent banking practices, 85% home ownership and major foreign investment, which have become pillars of the Maltese economy.

Since the introduction of the Maltese Individual Investor Programme (IIP) in 2014, there has been a growing awareness of Malta’s attributes which according to a recent report by the Office of the Regulator of the Individual Investor Programme, has attracted over €1 billion (R 16.9 billion) in revenue since the launch.


The Netherlands launched its own Residence by Investment Programme, known as the Dutch Golden Visa Programme in 2017, which offers nationals from outside of the European Union the chance to get their foot in the door.

“The Netherlands may be geographically small, but it’s an influential EU member country, boasting some of the highest living, healthcare and education standards in Europe,” Diedericks said.

“The key criteria is that foreign investors must bring value and or added value benefits to the economy, and the programme targets High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, with stringent eligibility criteria and a minimum investment of €1.25 million,” he said.


Portugal which launched its Golden Visa scheme in 2012, has become one of the most popular property investment schemes in Europe to date.

There are minimal residency requirements. Investors and their families qualify for Portuguese citizenship after six years. Tax is only payable if you spend more than 183 days in the country, according to Diedericks.


Spain is another European country that now welcomes foreign property investors. The recently launched Spanish Golden Visa (or “Property Visa”) grants automatic residency to investors who purchase property for €500 000 (R 8.5 million) or more. The golden visa does not require one to be in Spain for 183 days of the year, although you must visit at least once a year.

“Applicants are not restricted to residential property and will enjoy the same benefits if they purchase commercial property, land or a combination of properties,” Diedericks said.


Mauritius has become a firm favourite with South Africans. A number of South Africans are buying property on the Indian Ocean island and moving their families and businesses there. According to BusinessTech, an investment of $375 000 (R 5.4 million) or more secures permanent residency in Mauritius.

“South Africans have become increasingly aware of the long and short-term financial gains of investing in Mauritius, and South Africa now accounts for almost one-fifth of foreign direct investment in Mauritius and around 40% of the buyers in property development schemes,” Lew Geffen said.