While not the most widely chosen destination for expatriates, Slovenia possesses its own allure. Boasting one of the world's most potent passports, Slovenian citizens enjoy visa-free access to 170 nations and the privilege to reside and labour within the EU. The nation employs the euro, a currency renowned for its stability. Furthermore, Slovenia maintains a relatively modest cost of living, alongside its abundant cultural heritage and scenic landscapes. Delve further into this article to acquaint yourself with the process of acquiring Slovenian citizenship and attaining the status of a complete resident.
Benefits of Slovenian Citizenship
The Slovenian passport gives its holder all the rights of an EU resident:
- Choice of residence in any EU country.
- The right to buy real estate in many EU countries without special permission from authorities.
- Visa-free entry to 170 countries.
- The opportunity to study at EU universities on preferential terms, even for free in some cases.
- The right to secure loans from European banks.
How Can a Foreigner Obtain Slovenian Citizenship?
There are two main ways of obtaining Slovenian citizenship:
- Prove that you have the “right of blood” or family relations with a citizen of Slovenia.
Depending on the chosen procedure, the journey towards obtaining a Slovenian passport can span anywhere from several months to a decade. All prospective applicants must exhibit financial stability or the presence of a sponsor, absence of legal issues, proficiency in Slovenian, and furnish documentation substantiating the basis for extended stay within the country. Now, let's delve into the various criteria underpinning applications for Slovenian citizenship.
Lake Bled. Photo: Johnny Africa (Unsplash)
Similar to several other European nations, Slovenia offers the avenue of acquiring Slovenian citizenship through naturalisation for individuals of legal adulthood who have established a lengthy residence here. It is requisite to maintain lawful domicile within the nation for a minimum of 10 years (comprising five years with a residency permit and an additional five with permanent residency). If one has achieved higher education within Slovenia, this timeframe is condensed to seven years, stipulating a prerequisite of spending at least one uninterrupted year within the country just before initiating the citizenship application process.
In addition to long-term residence, applicants for Slovenian citizenship are required to:
- Provide proof of financial stability;
- Provide a police clearance certificate;
- Demonstrate basic knowledge of the Slovenian language (you can provide a certificate proving that you have taken language courses as confirmation);
- Provide proof of timely paid taxes;
- Take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of Slovenia;
- Provide a set of documents proving your identity, place of residence, marital status, and employment (a passport, a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, Slovenia residence permit, housing rent or sale contract, work contract, etc.).
The application fee for citizenship by naturalisation stands at 185.79 euros. Individuals deemed 'extraordinary' candidates, capable of contributing 'economic, social, scientific, and cultural benefits,' undergo an accelerated naturalisation process. Such applicants are required to have maintained residency within the country for a year and possess a passport from any other state (with exceptions made for refugees or stateless individuals).
In exceptional circumstances, specifically when an individual 'renders an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of Slovenia and the elevation of the country's international reputation or prestige,' citizenship can be conferred without the prolonged waiting period typically required. This avenue of naturalisation is exceedingly uncommon and is typically extended to exceptional athletes, scientists, or cultural luminaries.
Ljubljana. Photo: Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson (Unsplash)
If you maintain familial connections with Slovenian citizens, distinct regulations apply to your situation. You become eligible for a passport after three years of marriage to a Slovene national. However, prior to submitting your application, you must spend a continuous year within the country. The applicant is also required to demonstrate at least a fundamental grasp of the Slovenian language and furnish documentary evidence of the marriage.
Repatriation and Citizenship by Descent
Individuals tracing their lineage back up to the fourth generation of Slovenian citizens are eligible to seek citizenship, though substantiating such distant kinship in practice can be challenging. To pursue repatriation, one must furnish evidence of familial connections and reside in Slovenia for a year before initiating the application process. Notably, the relatives of candidates need not necessarily be of ethnic Slovenian origin; those whose forebears acquired citizenship by naturalisation or were granted asylum in the country are also eligible to apply for citizenship.
Slovenia recognizes the principle of jus sanguinis, or the 'right of blood,' as a determinant for citizenship. This signifies that children born to Slovenian citizens abroad are entitled to apply for a Slovenian passport; this requires both parents to hold Slovenian citizenship, and the child must not possess passports from other countries. An exception is made when one parent possesses a Slovenian passport while the other is stateless.
Children born within the borders of Slovenia have the right to citizenship if either of the parents holds a Slovenian passport. The same rules apply to children who are adopted by Slovenian citizens.
The fee for applying for citizenship through family ties is 25 euros.
Business and Investments
In the absence of familial ties within Slovenia, an alternative route to securing long-term residence and eventually citizenship is through business investment. This approach offers distinct advantages beyond Slovenian residency, such as the comparatively modest corporate tax rate of 19%, a relatively low figure for a European nation. The initial investment requirement is also relatively modest, at 7,500 euros. However, several conditions apply:
- Fixed Asset Investments: Committing a minimum of 50,000 euros towards fixed asset investments within the first six months of business operations;
- Steady Turnover: Sustaining a consistent monthly turnover of at least 10,000 euros over a period of no less than six months;
- Employment Commitment: Entering into an employment contract with at least one Slovenian or EU citizen for a duration not shorter than six months;
- Tax Compliance: Ensuring the punctual submission of tax returns during the preceding six months, with no outstanding tax liabilities;
- Work Permit Quota: Adhering to the stipulated work permit quota.
If you have adhered to the regulations outlined above, you become eligible to apply for a residence permit after a span of six months. This permit grants you the authorization to sustain your business activities within the country. The initial residence permit is granted for one year and can be renewed annually for a duration of five years. If you have abided by the nation's legal framework and have effectively cleared the language proficiency examination at the foundational level, you become eligible to petition for a permanent residence permit. Subsequently, after an additional five-year period, you can embark on the journey towards citizenship.
Similar to the naturalisation process, acquiring Slovenian citizenship through business investment can be notably expedited. For instance, you have the option to exhibit to the authorities your earnest intent and capacity to make a substantial contribution to the nation's economy. To accomplish this, you would need to invest over 1 million euros in aggregate into your business endeavours and also employ a minimum of 15 highly skilled Slovenian citizens.
Can I Obtain Slovenian Citizenship through Buying Real Estate?
Obtaining citizenship, as well as permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia, is not possible solely through the purchase of real estate. Furthermore, beginning in 2023, Slovenia has imposed restrictions on citizens from certain nations acquiring real estate, including Russia, Ukraine, China, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This limitation can only be circumvented by procuring real estate through a company established in Slovenia, which, in turn, can be owned by citizens of the aforementioned countries.
Dual Citizenship in Slovenia
Applicants seeking citizenship should be aware that by default, Slovenia does not permit dual citizenship. Obtaining citizenship through naturalisation generally requires relinquishing your current passport. However, you can maintain dual citizenship in the following scenarios:
- If you acquire citizenship through marriage to a Slovenian citizen or as a relative of a Slovenian citizen.
- If you were born in Slovenia and have resided there throughout your life.
- If your original country of citizenship prohibits renunciation of its citizenship.
- If you obtained citizenship while underage, you may need to surrender one passport upon reaching legal adulthood.
Furthermore, renouncing your existing citizenship might not be obligatory in certain situations. This occurs under two circumstances:
- If you enter the country as a stateless individual or as a refugee.
- If the laws of your country of origin entail automatic loss of citizenship upon acquiring a new one.
In a Nutshell
Slovenia extends various avenues for foreigners to secure a residence permit and, potentially, citizenship in the future. These pathways encompass naturalisation, repatriation, family connections, and investments. The timeline for obtaining a Slovenian passport can span from several months to a decade, contingent upon the specific eligibility criteria. Slovenia actively seeks to attract skilled and accomplished individuals, as well as those who hold a genuine passion for the nation's culture and economy and aspire to play a role in its advancement. If you have demonstrated remarkable achievements in these areas, you may be granted preferential terms for obtaining citizenship.
Cover photo: Neven Krcmarek (Unsplash)