How to get Russian citizenship by investment or marriage

Written by Andrew Henderson
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Dateline: Riga, Latvia

What would you say if I offered you a second passport in Russia?

Of course, the western media has been going crazy predicting that Russia will use its Ukraine strategy to invade former Soviet satellite states and recreate the former Soviet Union.

Here in the Baltics, however, most younger people I talk to don’t have that fear.

Sure, there are some older folks who remember the dark days of occupation. Days that most westerners don’t fully understand.

Sure, the Soviet Union was certainly no picnic, but the propaganda from Washington was and is a large part of the reason westerners have always viewed Russia with some great skepticism.

When my mother flew to Moscow to adopt the first of my siblings from Russia in 1994, neighbors asked in hushed tones if she would even return. As if any westerner who showed up at the Moscow airport would be thrown in a cage and left to rot, rather than flagged through immigration with a yawn.

Heck, the Soviet Union did away with the draconian practice of taxing its citizens living abroad long ago, something the Land of the Free still has yet to do.

While Russia is certainly throwing its weight around these days, so is the United States.

If you are a US citizen, you have to ask yourself: do I want a second passport in as small and insignificant a country as possible, or do I want a citizenship from another world power that may be more lenient on taxes and offshore policy?

There are certainly arguments for being a citizen of Liechtenstein or San Marino, or even Singapore; but those citizenships are hard to come by.

Meanwhile, the small Caribbean nations that offer near-instant citizenship in exchange for an investment are becoming a bit devalued. St. Kitts and Nevis, which has the longest-running such program, recently lost visa-free access to Canada and an attorney friend of mine suggests Europe might be next.

While becoming a citizen of Russia may not sound that appealing to many, it is just another option available to you.

About Russian citizenship

The concept of “second citizenship” in Russia is frowned upon. Russia is one of a shrinking number of countries that technically prohibit the practice.

Russia gets a bad rap for taking such a hard line against the concept. To them, a Russian is a Russian.

However, I know a number of people with US and Russian citizenship. Currently, you are merely required to declare your foreign passports to the government. Those that don’t live in Russia don’t need to make such a declaration until they return to Russia.

Of course, anyone who is born to a Russian parent, who was a former citizen of a pre-USSR country, or was born on Russian soil before a certain date is eligible to claim or re-claim their Russian passport. Basic citizenship by descent principles apply.

For those without Russian blood, however, there are three ways to get citizenship, with each requiring that you obtain residency and wait several years.

If and when you eventually qualify for Russian citizenship, you’ll receive a passport with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 105 countries, including all of non-EU eastern Europe, Mexico, Chile, Panama, South Korea, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

So how do you get started?

Russian citizenship by investment

Last year, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (the guy not really in charge) signed into law a simplified citizenship law that favors foreign entrepreneurs, investors and highly skilled employees.

If you’re self-employed and have a successful business, you can move it to Russia and potentially qualify for citizenship in three years. You can also start a new business to qualify.

The criteria for entrepreneurs is straightforward: generate 10 million rubles in taxable revenue each year for three years. A few months ago, that would have been over US$300,000. With the ruble in free fall, that number today is less than US$163,000.

[Update: As of September 2017, that number is now closer to 173,000.]

If you wanted to bet on the ruble and diversify out of dollars, you could do so and basically cut your immigration “costs” by half.

I put “costs” in quotes because, outside of the actual taxes, there really are no costs at all. You’re merely enjoying the benefits of a profitable business and paying some tax as a result. You might even say they’re paying you to work toward citizenship.

If you become a tax resident of Russia, tax rates on dividends and ordinary income are typically in the teens, much lower than the United States or Western Europe.

If you don’t want to run a business yourself, you can buy into a larger business. With an investment of the same 10 million rubles, you can own 10% of a profitable business that pays at least $162,000 per year in taxes.

Heck, if you have a business that generates a significant profit now, you and your friends could each own a piece of the business and qualify.

As long as you are profitable and pay taxes for three years, you’ll be entitled to apply for a Russian passport. Your all-in cost for the citizenship could be as low as $75,000, payable not all at once, but annually.

When you compare this to the mid-six figure sums for Caribbean citizenships that don’t offer any kind of support to their citizens, it’s not a bad deal.

Russian citizenship by marriage

Call it From Russia with Love. For years, men have been flocking to Russia and neighboring countries to meet derisively-termed “mail order brides” that they immediately bring back to the United States.

It is possible to turn the tables. Russia is one of many countries that offers an expedited or more simple path to naturalization for spouses of their citizens.

Upon marriage to a Russian citizen — resident in Russia — foreign spouses are eligible for a residence permit regardless of whether the country’s quota on foreign residents has already been filled that year.

Amazingly, you can start the process by simply walking into the appropriate government office. No appointment needed. No nonsense.

After three years of marriage and tax residency in Russia, you are eligible to apply for naturalization. You will need to have some level of fluency in the Russian language, which is easier to learn than you might think.

And, unlike the US or Europe, Russia’s tax rates are quite low and most income is taxed at a flat rate.

Russian citizenship may seem like an unlikely route to a second passport. For some, however, it could be the right solution. That is why it is so important to know exactly what you need from a second citizenship.

Ultimately, Russia is one of three major superpowers, even despite their current economic woes. The risk that a superpower could make life difficult for its citizens by implementing laws like FATCA is always possible.

That said, if you run a business or have a highly impressive resume that can land you a job, Russia is basically making the citizenship process there free for qualified immigrants.

Something to keep in mind.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Dec 28, 2019 at 5:36AM

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70 Comments

  1. Василий Новик

    As a russian I can say that’s absolutely useless destination to go and stay, you can start your business here or find a wife/husband, but better not try to actually stay there. Default is possible in just 3 years.

    Reply
    • Jenna Maria Dominguez

      Ya khachoo gavareet russkii yázik.
      Kak váshi dyelá?
      Menyá zavoot Jénna.
      Ya óchyen rad poznakómitza svámi.

      Reply
      • Ved pratap

        I love Russia and India

        Reply
    • Booger Jones

      Well, we’re a year from your predicted time frame and I’m doubtful we’ll see that happen. If default did happen, what would be the downside anyway? Stiff the (he brew) lenders and they won”t lend to you any longer and make the next generation their debt slaves. Hell, I think every country should default. Fu(k the damn debt based system and let it collapse.

      Reply
      • Василий Новик

        OK, there’s no default, because there is austerity. What are the prospects? Authoritarian politics; 1.2-1.4% growth trap, extremely high refinancing rate (9.25%), still high inflation (above 4% yearly). It’s better anywhere than here. It’s better in China because everything works better and wages are higher, it’s better in Romania, it’s better in much poorer Serbia than here. It’s slightly better even in Mexico.

        Reply
      • Василий Новик

        And please, answer one more question, how an individual can make his country better if all kinds beaurocrats are not interested in making somebody’s life better, their authorities are not interested in punishing disfunctional beaurocrats and taking part in real political life is forbidden because all kinds of political competition are banned since 2011 or earlier (I’m not talking about United Russia’s shills parties but election were wholefrauded anyway, since about 2007) any kind of protest is forbidden and punishable up to criminal prosecution (they fear so called maidan)? Corruption is not punishable for haves and is fully punishable for have nots (in fact, just like everything else in this country). There’s no way how anyone (individual or even 1-3 millions of people) can change anything in this grey amorphous swampmass which was called “Russia” for some reason

        Reply
    • Nazeem Dollie

      I’m a South African citizen that just gained Russian permanent residency as I’m married to a Russian woman and we have a Russian (1 year old) son. We lived in Saint Petersburg but now live in Sochi and I absolutely love it here!!! Soon I will become a Russian citizen!

      Reply
      • Josh

        I’m happy for you, man. I hope the other South Africans who Russia agreed taking soon will have it good there as well.
        It’s easy to be bitter about a place you’ve lived in all your life, so I never take criticisms too seriously.
        I’m a Russian-born citizen and my parents moved countries when I was little. I don’t like this country I live in today, and I think I’ve been wronged here in many ways. But many people like it here and from around the world. I think Russia is nice, but perhaps it’s because I didn’t grow there.
        Everyone can have their perspective.

        Reply
      • Elvyn

        Hi Nazeem, If its not a problem, may i ask how you started in Russia. i have a girlfriend in Russia and will Marry her on the next trip to Russia, would i then need to leave Russia again or will i be able to get a TRP and stay? any info would be much appreciated

        Reply
      • Mohan

        Hello Nazeem. I was born in Bangalore, India, raised in Mumbai and then lived in USA for 20 years (Virginia and Boston) and Canada for 4 years (Toronto). I am back in India last two years to be with family in Bangalore. Encouraging some kids I teach martial arts to here to consider Russia instead of USA and Canada. Big time difference there being 10000 miles from India – day there is night here. Russia is right above India so no time difference in Siberia, Yekaterinburg etc.! Abakan looks like a cute town of 175,000, and Katanova State University seems like an interesting school. I have started Russian classes in Bangalore for a 20 year old student of mine, Yugandgar, and am encouraging his half brother Giridhar 10 and their cousin Pushpa 12 to take the same route eventually. I feel the great bear has a lot to offer! Mohan

        Reply
    • Ihtisham khan

      I want Russian nationality beacuse I love russia

      Reply
  2. Josef Triumf

    160.000$ for 3 years only is so so exepnsive, look at the VANUATU REHABILITATION PROGRAM , 200.000$ citizenship for life !

    Reply
  3. Muhammad Hassan

    Russia is 1 of my favourite countries

    Reply
  4. Rytero

    Thanks for the short guide.

    Reply
  5. Василий Новик

    You are deluded.

    Reply
  6. Salvador Garcia

    Ive visited Russia and lived native in non tourist cities etc ,its my favorite country .I speak/read basic Russian and I think its a good idea to learn at least to read Russian before making a final decision .

    Reply
    • William

      I wish I could find someone to teach me russian. Serious minded person

      Reply
      • Anya

        I’m willing but where are you located? If not in my area then would you be OK with learning with me either online or some other way that may be more convenient or comfortable for you?
        Also how often would you like to practice?

        Reply
        • usman

          me too want to learn Russian language, would you plz help me?

          Reply
        • Aditya Chauhan

          Hey, I too wanted to learn Russian. Can you please help me.I am from India. Is there anyway by which I can learn.

          Reply
        • ALotf

          I would like to learn. You in Dubai by any chance?

          Reply
      • Mike

        My wife teaches Russian online via Skype. She is a native Russian speaker living here in the US.

        Reply
      • Collins Cho wara

        I may be of help to you. I am a Cameroonian who had live and study in Russia for more than a decade..

        Reply
  7. Salvador Garcia

    Humm ,you need to learn the different cultural aspects of doing that . I almost did that ,I did not work mainly due to cultural issues.

    Reply
    • Lidiya Krykun

      What were the differences? Why didn’t things work out.

      Reply
  8. Salvador Garcia

    Thats the correct approach ,the only way to really get to know a person’s soul is by first learning hes/her language .

    Reply
  9. Sentimental Cat

    I thought Russia didn’t allow dual citizenship! This is good news to me thank you for the informative article (as usual). =)

    Reply
    • JC Denton

      in most cases, the one who apply Russian citizenship must renounce all previous citizenship, but constitution says citizenship cannot be deprivated unvoluntarily by any circumstances from those who already have one
      but today, there is rule that you must report all of your other citizenships if you are Russian citizen living in Russia
      the punishment for “violation” is fine, very big for ordinary locals

      Reply
  10. Michael Stewart

    I dream about living in Russia and becoming President after Putin is not longer interested in the Position. I am from the USA and I hate my country. I hate living in a country that antagonizes Iran., Russia, and China. I always dreamed of defending Moscow from Invaders something I would not do for the USA. I would gladly give up my American citizenship for Russian citizenship. Russians are the superior culture. Vladimir Putin created the Universe and only he is worthy of worship.

    Reply
    • Reza

      Tnx from Iran, I hope you become the president of the US herself and remove this sanctions on us 🙂

      Reply
  11. Maggie Cochran

    .. I’m not sure why or when I became infatuated with Russia, yet, I have always been drawn to its strength and culture. . I wonder, would a human services degree such as psychology and/or psychiatry be deemed as an acceptable profession for a person seeking citizenship?

    Reply
  12. jamaica jamaica

    i am indian & i had married to russian girl & we have babby 2 year old
    how can i apply for russian citizenship & what document we need ? i have been moscow one time last year for three month plz help

    Reply
  13. Talla Emmanuel

    hello dear, am living in russia with a residence permits and i need a pastport can someone help me?

    Reply
  14. NAS

    Dear Andrew ,

    thank you for the useful information .

    me and my Russian girlfriend planing to get married in Russia , what kind of document i need to prepare before flying there for marriage certificate registration .

    thanks in advance .

    Nas

    Reply
    • Sekhar Reddy

      You need a passport copy and single status and all the documents attached with Apostille certificate with translate in Russian language

      Reply
    • Lance

      If you are a US citizen and get married out of country you will make it ten times more difficult for her to get a US green card. It is better to bring her to the US on a fiance visa and get married in the US the wait time is only about 5-8 mos. to get the visa the other way can take up to 3 yrs. depending on where you live in the US and how busy your local office is. Again this only applies if you are a US citizen.

      Reply
  15. Sherwin USMC

    @Andrew Henderson-Russia is my favorite country. I was a US military officer but I did a genealogy test and discovered MTR1B genetics. I am 35 but one day would like to retire and live in Russia, as a Russian citizen. I am also Russian Orthodox. I am working on getting fluent in the language but I am about to be a police officer. One day, I will be an attorney but it will be time before I can generate 300,000 rubles or $163,000 USD a year. Is there any chance I can become a citizen of the Russian Federation. I am ethnically German, Russian and Azeri Irooni.
    Thank you in advance for answering my questions. I read your article and it seems like there is a chance but there is a process. At least they simplified it form before. First step, I want to go to Russia for the World Cup and apply for a long visa. What is the best way to do that? I moved from California to Nevada, is there a Russian/US embassy I can contact that is near by? I read I need to send in reports like occupation, address, pay stubs etc. Thank you in advance. I am also a classical pianist and love Russian Slavic Folk/Classical music. Thank you for your help.

    Reply
  16. Ken Meyer

    heck yes and you could get in trouble with that in Russia *lol

    Reply
  17. Shady

    Hey there ,
    i already studied in Russia and i’m holding a degree from there and even my wife she’s Russian what should i do to get the Russian passport the only problem i have is i’m working in UAE so to go and finish all the paper work i think it will need for me 1 month to only take the veremia perejevania

    Reply
    • Afghan-Russian Citizen

      Depends on how long you are married. If you are married for longer than 3+ years then you don’t need veremia perejevania, you can apply directly for citizenship which I did. I was married to my wife for 7 years with a child. I went to Russia-Moscow and got my passport within 2 months after submitting some documents like the marriage certificate. If you are recently married then you will have a hard time collecting/submitting all documents to get 3 years visa first then submit other documents to get veremia perejevania and must be within Russian territory every 6 months else your veremia perejevania will be nullified and will be in a big problem.

      Good Luck buddy.

      Reply
      • guy eames

        I’m married to a Russian citizen for many years (20), I’m from the UK, we have a small flat in Moscow. Could you tell me how you arranged citizenship – was it through an agency or yourself? I am told that the centre is now outside the city in Saxarova and its a nightmare

        Reply
        • jamshid

          hey man Hi how are you can you invite me at the russia thanks

          Reply
      • Chukwudi

        Did you have to renounce the citizenship of your home country?

        Reply
        • Феликс Мэрфи

          its a good idea to check sometime the goverment will ask you to give up your home passport which is not a good idea

          Reply
      • Chukwudi

        Did you have to renounce the citizenship of your home country? Is this a necessity?

        Reply
      • Ricky

        Hello Afghan-Russian Citizen ,

        I am also married to a Russian for 8 years.We have a 7 year old son.We live in another country but visit Russia yearly. Please can you help me with the process to follow?
        Did you live in Russia for sometime? Do you speak Russian? Thanks.

        Reply
  18. INDRANIL ROY

    After getting Russian citizenship how long any Russian citizen can stay out of Russia and retain the citizenship ?

    Reply
    • Chi

      When you get actual citizenship and passport, there is no requirements (in any country I believe) to stay in that country.

      Reply
  19. fatih dogan

    Hi. i am from turkey and i live and work allready 8 years in russia i am not married and last my 2 visa was 3 years.All visa was for work. if i try to get russian citizen.i must married without married i cant get it?

    Reply
    • Someone

      You Turkish people are cockroaches of the world. Leave Russia

      Reply
      • Garry

        Starting to label citizens with a label, what is the appropriate label to give Russians,
        Nationalism is already a garbage

        Reply
  20. NDELEY YUFANYI STEPHEN

    It has always be my dream to live in that country I love Russia so so much if only I can have the opportunity to stay there I will be a happy person

    Reply
  21. Nduwayo James

    Hello dear friends, I am James from Rwanda, I want to go in Moscow and meet my Russian Girlfriend there for further our relationship, get married and stay in Moscow. I would like to ask you if I will be able to register our wedding While I will be holding a tourist visa? Is it possible to get married there while someone has a tourist visa of 30 days only? Please help me!
    God bless you

    Reply
  22. Cheers

    Hello ,
    I’m in Moscow now for the world cup championship.
    I ve 10 days to leave after the world cup.
    I intend to stay till december before i leave.
    What are the implementations?
    Can i marry my russian girl friend here and avoid any immigration problem.
    Pls your comment is highly appreciated.
    Thank you

    Reply
  23. Cap

    I married a greta Russian Gal and the Russian I learmed was CTO Blatz Suka )))

    Reply
  24. Arjun Trivedi

    Russia is my favorite country.Once in lifetime i would like to visit it.

    Reply
    • Ismail jacelow

      Where i can find a russian girlfreind plz tell me?

      Reply
    • Ismail jacelow

      Where i can find a russian girlfriend plz tell me how i can find?

      Reply
  25. Ahmed

    Thanks for your good information

    Reply
  26. Happy

    Hello Afghan-Russian Citizen ,

    I am also married to a Russian for 8 years.We have a 7 year old son.We live in another country but visit Russia yearly. Please can you help me with the process to follow?
    Did you live in Russia for sometime? Do you speak Russian? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Suresh

      I’m agree.

      Reply
  27. Solomon Fogel

    Dose anyone know if this program is also valid if I invest in a bank?

    Reply
  28. Tibor

    I would really like to get Russian citizenship, the only problem is that I can’t move to there without a good local job. My wife is Russian, we are married already for 8 years, and have 3 children, so normally it should be easy, but unfortunately I can’t live in fact in Russia now. Is there any chance to get the citizenship anyway, or they control strictly every stamp in the passeport? And of wourse I would not like to renounce my actual citizenships (French and Hungarian).

    Reply
  29. Syed Khaja Imtiazuddin

    I would like to get a dueal citizenship of Chechnya republic of Russia by marrying a practicing Muslim lady

    Reply
  30. Shekhawat ram Singh

    I need Russian citizenship

    Reply
  31. Happy

    This site is not helpful since we don’t get any replies or answers from questions we ask.

    Reply
    • Andrew Henderson

      We offer this blog as a service without warranty. We run a business that helps provide answers as part of a comprehensive strategy, and you can learn more at http://www.nomadcapitalist.com/apply.

      Reply
  32. Happy

    Thank you very much Andrew.

    Reply
  33. ariana

    for Getting RWP on marriage , i have Russian language certificate from academy , will there be an interview in Russian too or certificate is enough ?

    Reply
  34. Phoenix

    Hi there. Russian women are much more beautiful and also faithful than most european and american women. But I think that there are limited number of women on websites and it is much better to travel to Russia and ask a news paper to publish the charecteristics I’m looking for in a woman ( that surely includes my desired physical features). Am I legally able to do this? Not being qualified for citizenship via marriage is not important for me. My ideal bride is all that is important to me at the moment, and I might not choose to live in Russia anyway. Just take my bride and leave!

    Reply

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