What are the differences between residency and citizenship?

Despite the fact that the two concepts of residency and citizenship are often thought to be synonymous with each other, there exist several significant differences between the two. Indeed, while citizens have a number of rights that are conferred to them for life and which can, in turn, be inherited by their descendants, residents have no such security.

Depending on the laws of a particular country, residency can be either temporary or permanent, with each permit having different responsibilities, conditions and rights attached to it. So unique are the terms and conditions of residency to each country that the United Kingdom does not even take into consideration the term ‘residency’ and instead uses the term ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

Unlike citizenship, residency oftentimes demands that residents renew their residency permits by satisfying the country’s legal requirements. This could mean that clean health and criminal records must be maintained or, if there has been an initial required investment, it may need to be kept for a particular length of time.

Attaining Residency

An applicant can attain residency by investment if they and their approved family members fulfil certain criteria. Those conditions could involve requirements such as:

  • Having a high net worth;
  • Being able to invest required amounts in designated enterprises or institutions and being able to hold those investments for a particular length of time;
  • Being able to meet clean health and criminal background checks;
  • Being able to sustain all legal, governmental and processing fees.

Attaining Citizenship

Thanks to the fact that most countries which offer citizenship by investment aim to encourage high net individuals to choose their country over others, many people who are able to attain a residency will generally also have the opportunity to become a citizen. .. Furthermore, countries such as Cyprus, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda give applicants residency in a matter of weeks.

Status and rights in different states

Whether you are a resident or a citizen, the benefits of such status are immediate. Obtaining either will mean that you are immediately able to travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival to a number of countries. Residents are able to live, work and study throughout the Schengen Zone as well as other countries which have specific arrangements with individual state or with the European Union. While citizens are always guaranteed a number of rights, depending on the laws of a particular country, residents may also be able to:

  • Vote in elections;
  • Receive embassy or consular protection wherever they may travel to;
  • Benefit from more lenient tax laws.

Ultimately, every country has different options and processes for obtaining residency or citizenship and the trick really is finding the best option to fit your needs. If you do your research right and seek appropriate guidance and legal advice in the state that you feel drawn to invest in, you will be able to make an informed decision that you and your children will not regret.



RC International is dedicated to helping you thrive in a globalised world.

We are passionate about helping clients and their families apply for second citizenship and residence programmes that suit their unique objectives.