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Global Citizen • Second Passport

How to Establish Residency in Albania: The Ultimate Guide

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Along the Adriatic Sea, encircled by Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo, lies a small Balkans nation that spends most of its time below the raider of most entrepreneurs and investors.

Step forward, Albania.

At first glance, Albania doesn’t really seem like a European country. It’s not highly developed like Germany or the Netherlands, nor does it have world-class beaches or tourist havens to boast about, like its neighbours Montenegro and Greece.

So why would someone want to establish a temporary or permanent residence in Albania?

One word – potential.

It’s one of the countries that has taken stock of its shortcomings and is actively strengthening the private sector and improving the economy. Less than one-tenth of the country’s population is non-Albanian so now the government is trying its best to attract foreigners to Albania.

More foreigners equate to more foreign investment and improved economic activities. Albania is not usually the top destination for those looking for a residence in Europe, and it probably isn’t at the top of your list either, but that’s not to say it doesn’t show promise.

So, Why Albania?

Albania is trying to put its best foot forward and to draw the attention of international investors through a liberal foreign investment regime.

Liberal Foreign Investment Regime

Why Albania 1
Should you move to Albania as an investor?

Whether you are a foreign citizen who wants to start a business or invest in the public or private sector, Albania offers lucrative incentives. The Albanian law ‘On Foreign Investment’ allows 100% foreign ownership of companies and offers other legal perks to foreign investors.

Several economic zones are being set up in the capital city of Tirana and other major cities all over the country to accommodate the hoped-for new companies, with further incentives being introduced for foreign citizens looking to incorporate their business in Albania. The property tax and the real estate transfer tax within these economic zones will be exempt for five years.

Albania is still relatively unknown from a foreign investment standpoint, which is why real estate prices and demand are among the lowest in the European region. So, first-comers will not only yield the benefits of these incentives but also enjoy the perks of an unsaturated, developing market.

The Six Best Places to Live in Albania

Competitive Tax Rates

In Albania, corporate income is taxed at a flat rate of 15%. Thanks to the government’s many incentives, foreign investors can expect to lower tax rates in Albania if they fulfil specific requirements.

In addition to that, strategic tax planning can also save you big bucks.

Incentives like the 1 EURO Contract, through which the Albanian government offers businesses a €1 per year lease of state-owned property for investments, have made Albania a pretty attractive spot for investors.

Moreover, tax reductions for investors in strategic sectors like tourism and automotive industries, to name a few, make the country a pretty sweet investment spot.

Candidate for EU Membership

Candidate for EU Membership, Albania
Albania might be joining other European countries as an EU member.

After almost five centuries under Ottoman rule, the Albanians started to reconnect with their European roots in the late 19th century. The Albanian authorities and the population are eager to join the European Union and the country is doing its best to adopt the EU’s legal framework to achieve future ascension.

However, don’t expect it to become an EU state overnight as the country has a long, uphill struggle to achieve its accession goals. In the meantime, you can take advantage of more affordable investments and lighter regulations because the situation is bound to change once Brussels – the epicentre of EU rule and bureaucracy – gets involved.

Establishing Residency in Albania

Typically, any foreigner from a visa-exempt country can enter Albania with a valid passport. Visa-exempt foreign nationals can legally stay in Albania for 90 days in a 180-day period. As a general rule, any stay longer than that requires a residency permit in Albania, although there are a few exceptions.

According to the Albanian law ‘On Foreigners’, US, EU and Schengen citizens enjoy the same employment and self-employment rights as Albanian citizens.

Albanian Law ‘On Foreigners’

Establishing Residency in Albania
Albanian has specific legislation for immigration.

The Albanian Law ‘On Foreigners’ No. 188/2013 regulates all aspects of immigration, residence and work permits for foreigners willing to visit Albania for specific reasons.

Amended in 2021, the new ‘On Foreigners’ No. 79/2021 law, introduced fresh legal definitions, types of residence permits and their respective issuance procedures, among other subjects.

The Albanian Law regulates the following aspects:

  • Entry and exit from the Republic of Albania
  • The foreigners’ residence
  • Work permits for foreigners
  • Treatment of foreigners in the country.

Types of Residence Permits

Types of Residence Permits, Albania
What type of permit should you get?

Albania has several residence permits depending on the visit’s duration and reason. The border and migration authority will issue one of the following residence permits to foreigners who plan to stay in Albania for more than 90 days in a 180-day period. These permits include:

  • Type ‘A’: Non-renewable residence permit issued for a defined period
  • Type ‘B’ (Unique): Renewable residence permit issued for a defined period and gives the right to the holder to enter, stay and exit from Albania within the period defined
  • Type ‘C’ (Unique): residence permit issued for an indefinite period
  • ‘Blue Card AL’ (Unique): Renewable residence permit with a fixed term issued only for highly qualified employees
  • ‘Blue Card AL-C’: Permanent residence permit issued only for highly qualified employees.

Duration of Residence Permits

Duration of Residence Permits, Albania
Albania might be a small country, but it is beautiful.

According to the ‘On Foreigners’ law, each residence permit in the Republic of Albania is issued for a particular duration unless otherwise specified in the law, after which it either expires or needs to be renewed.

The durations are as follows:

  • three months
  • six months
  • one year (can’t be renewed more than five times in a row)
  • two years (can’t be renewed more than once).

When applying for the first time, the Albanian temporary residence permit is not issued for more than a year unless you’re a US, EU or Kosovo citizen. When applying for the first time, the US, EU and Kosovo citizens will receive a five-year residence permit.

However, foreigners who gain residence through real estate purchases receive only a one-year residence permit, which can be renewed yearly.

A foreign citizen with stable ties in Albania will be eligible for permanent residence after legally residing there for five consecutive years.

Residence Permits According to Motive

Residence Permits According to Motive
Albanian culture is rich and vibrant.

The Albanian ‘On Foreigners’ law caters for various motives when issuing residence permits. The amended law No. 79/2021 introduced a new type of residence permit and several new foreigner categories that are eligible for an Albanian residence permit.

The following are some of the significant changes introduced by the law:

  • Unique Permit: Patterned after the EU’s Single Permit, this document comprises residence and work permits. It allows foreigners to live and work in Albania through a single application procedure.
  • New Foreigner categories: According to the amended law, digitally mobile workers, au pairs, stateless people and retirees will be eligible for an Albanian residency.

The law also introduced a residence permit for the use of owned real estate. The residence permits are divided into ordinary/standard and unique:

Ordinary Permits

Ordinary permits are issued for the following reasons:

  • Family reunification
  • Study reasons (students and pupils)
  • Unpaid trainees
  • Au pairs
  • Youth exchanges
  • Scientific research
  • Job search or entrepreneurship for researchers and students
  • Humanitarian cases
  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Stateless persons.

Unique Permits

Unique Permits, Albania
Get your hands on a valid travel document from Albania.

Unique permits are issued for the following reasons:

  • Employees
  • Seasonal employment
  • Transfer within the enterprise
  • Cross-border workers
  • Professional training
  • Athletes
  • Voluntary service
  • Highly qualified employees
  • Self-employed persons
  • Digital mobile workers
  • Investors
  • Contracting services.

Unique Permit Specific Categories

The following are the specific categories for which a unique permit will be issued:

  • For the crew of navigational vehicles
  • For the use of an owned real estate
  • For pensioners.

Getting Albanian Residence by Investment

Getting Residency in Albania through Real Estate
Albania’s Visa regime has an investment option.

Article 69 of the Foreigners Act No. 79/2021 establishes the terms for granting a unique residence permit to investors in exchange for their investment. However, the law does not detail the intricacies of the investment.

Investors are granted a one-year permit that is renewable annually once the criteria are met. After five years, investors may apply for permanent residence in Albania.

The law mentions the following conditions for investors to obtain a unique permit:

  • An investment has to be made, the value of which is determined by the security and finance Albanian ministers.
  • The economic activity should have a ratio of five Albanian citizens for every foreigner – be it the regular workforce or the management body.
  • The employees must be paid at least the average salary in the Republic of Albania for their respective roles.
  • The economic entity (usually a business) must prove that it is profitable and in compliance with its tax obligations.

It’s not difficult to see that the law is pretty vague about many vital aspects related to investment, such as the minimum investment amount and clear investment routes. Further developments and clarifications are highly possible in the future.

Residency in Albania Through Real Estate

One of the latest residence permits available is for those who want to own real estate. Foreigners can now obtain residency in Albania by purchasing property.

Article 84 of the Foreigners Act No. 79/2021 explains the right to obtain a residence permit in Albania by purchasing Albanian real estate.

Conditions for Residency in Albania Through Real Estate

The terms and criteria surrounding Albanian residence by real estate are still murky and not properly defined in law.

Still, foreigners intending to stay in the country for any reason will need a home and a registered Albanian address for the residence permit card and the law is clear on one thing – property ownership.

There’s no restriction the type of property a foreigner may purchase, whether residential or commercial and foreigners who can show proof of property ownership, such as a contract of sale, will be granted a residence permit for the use of immovable property.

The law does not demand the foreigner to be the sole owner of the property. The residence permit will be granted if the investor owns at least half (minimum 50%) of the property. Moreover, the law does not dictate a minimum investment amount for real estate purchases.

The Albanian Council of Ministers determines the procedure and criteria for residency by purchasing real estate.

The temporary residence permit for the use of the immovable property will be issued for one year, after which it must be renewed if you wish to continue your residence. You also must remain a property owner to continue your residency.

Procedure for Getting an Albanian Residence Permit

Procedure for Getting Albanian Residence Permit
How can you get hold of an Albanian visa?

The procedure to secure an Albanian residency permit includes the following criteria:

  • Obtain a ‘D’ Visa: A ‘D’ Visa is an extended stay type visa. You will need a ‘D’ Visa to enter and stay in Albania while the migration authority processes your application.
  • Proof of Funds/Income: If your residence is not for employment purposes, you will need to open a bank account with enough capital to fund your stay in the country.
  • For employees: A pay slip attached to the residence permit application serves the same purpose as a bank statement for non-employees.
  • Registered Address: You must also have a registered Albanian address, which will then be printed on your residence permit card.
  • Application Fee: Pay approximately €50 in state fees.

To obtain a residency permit, you must apply online to the Albanian Migration Service within 30 days of your entry into Albania. A decision on your application will be made within 30 days of your online submission.

Albanian Citizenship

Albanian Citizenship
You could become an Albanian citizen.

Residency permit holders can apply for Albanian citizenship after five consecutive years of residence in Albania (more than 180 days in one year). You must also be proficient in the Albanian language at an elementary level to be eligible for citizenship.

According to the latest Nomad Passport Index, Albanian passport holders can enter 120 destinations without a visa, with a visa-on-arrival or via an eTA (electronic Travel Authorisation). 

Albania current ranking (86) in our index will likely improve once the country joins the EU.

Residency in Albania – is it Worth It?

Residency in Albania – Is It Worth It
Is permanent residence or temporary residence in Albania right for you?

Albania is not a prominent country but that doesn’t automatically make it a poor residence choice. You need to weigh the country’s pros against its cons and figure out whether it fits into your offshore puzzle.

Albania might not currently be at the top of many lists, but who’s to say that its situation will not change in the near future? Other countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, have already undergone drastic changes and emerged as investment, tourism and business hubs.

So, if you want to bet on an underdog, Albania might be the place for you.

If you want to know more about your options in Albania or elsewhere, reach out to Nomad Capitalist today. We’ll help you go where you are treated best, just as we’ve helped over 1,500 high–net–worth individuals like you. 


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