Feb 7, 2020

How to get a Special Passport in Armenia – from 1200 EUR

Foreigners who consider Armenia as their destination for permanent residence or as another backup plan in case they might face economic, political pressures in their country, may need more information about the options of obtaining a special residence status in Armenia. When applying for this document, a foreign citizen gets a document in the form of a booklet, i.e. a Special Passport, while in the case of a temporary or permanent residence permit, they are issued an identity document in the form of a card.

In this article we will discuss some of the benefits of obtaining a special passport, as well as pros and cons of this status for a foreigner. You are encouraged to contact our qualified lawyers, if you wish to apply for a special residence status in Armenia. The cost of the service starts from 1200 EUR.

Next, we provide a brief overview the legal norms and privileges which are provided by this document in the Republic of Armenia.

Special residence status in Armenia: form and its advantages

According to the legislation, a special residence permit (passport) in Armenia has a validity period of 10 years. In appearance, the document is different from a temporary/permanent residence permit, because it is issued in the form of a passport, rather than a card. However, all types of residence permits (temporary, permanent or special) offer relatively equal range of comparative benefits. In particular, they allow the holder of the permit:   

  • To travel freely from and to Armenia without a visa;
  • To live, work, study in Armenia;
  • To do business in Armenia;
  • To engage in any other legal activity in Armenia without the need to obtain work permits or other documents.

Another significant advantage of the special passport of Armenia is that its owners can own agricultural land in their own name, without the need to set up a legal entity in Armenian jurisdiction.

Special Passport of Armenia: requirements for applicants and registration procedure

Foreigners who choose Armenia in order to obtain a special residence status, need to know that the entire procedure for documents processing is made as transparent and clear as possible. 

In practice, special passports in Armenia are issued to foreigners of Armenian descent, that is, ethnic Armenians. However, the document may also be issued to foreign investors. Basically, special passport is claimed by those ethnic Armenians who encounter certain limitations in terms of obtaining a second citizenship due to restrictions in the country of first citizenship (i.e. dual citizenship is not allowed in their country), or they might rather not consider Armenian citizenship for other reasons (for example due to military service issues). In exceptional cases, special passports may be issued to non-Armenians who are engaged in economic or cultural activities in Armenia.  

As for investors, obtaining a special residence permit in Armenia is overall a much more straightforward process than obtaining a passport. Although there are no specific criteria, the Prime Minister may offer a foreigner a special residence permit if he considers that the volume of investment made by the applicant is not sufficient to become eligible for citizenship and national passport.

The procedure for issuing special passports is more complicated than a temporary/permanent residence permit and in many aspects, it is similar to the procedure for applying for citizenship. 

The time required to obtain a special passport is approximately 60 days. Unlike a permit for temporary/permanent residence, the final decision on the issue or refusal to issue a special passport of Armenia is made by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. 

Special Residence Status in Armenia: Establishment of Armenian origin

The special passport of Armenia requires documentary evidence of the applicant’s being of ethnic Armenian descent. Armenian origin is usually substantiated by means of documents issued by the Government or church, which evidence the ethnic descent of the applicant. The baptism certificate of the applicant and/or his parent (grandparent) is another common way of establishing Armenian origin. 

Foreigners who are looking to receive special residence status in Armenia, need to keep some key points in mind:

  • children of the holder of a special passport can also receive special passports for free if they are under 16 years of age. Persons who are 16 years of age and older must apply as separate individuals;
  • a special residence permit may be extended for unlimited number of times, each time for a period of 10 years;
  • holders of special passports are not considered citizens of Armenia and, therefore, are not subject to compulsory military service.

How can we help you?

  • we will   examine your specific situation;
  • we will take care of the required paperwork;
  • we will fully accompany you in the process of obtaining a special passport of Armenia;
  • we will establish contact between you, as the applicant, and with state authorities;
  • we will help with the extension of the special status of residence in Armenia to you and your family members.

It is also worth highlighting the key aspects which are relevant for applicants who are going to obtain special residence status in Armenia based on Special Passport.

Special Status of Residence in Armenia: key aspects

Unlike citizenship, when obtaining a national passport of Armenia, it is possible to apply for a special residence status equivalent to a residence permit through a legal representative (attorney) by proxy. The state duty for the issuance of Special Passport is currently about 310 USD (150,000 Armenian drams). The fee is paid by the applicant upon submitting application for the special residence status in Armenia. In case of rejection of the application, the state fee is refunded to the applicant.  

Foreign citizens who consider Armenia as a country for permanent or occasional residence should know the key advantages of a special passport. Among them are: 

  • privileged status;
  • validity period – 10 years with the right to extend an unlimited number of times;
  • simple process of obtaining the special passport;
  • an opportunity to own agricultural land;
  • lack of military service obligation;
  • the most straightforward way to full-scale citizenship.

It is worth noting here that the holders of a special passport of Armenia cannot participate in the elections or be elected to the state government bodies. For comparison, if the individual acquires citizenship together with a national passport of Armenia, they become eligible for service in the national army. Also, they can participate in elections and be elected.

All documents required for registration of a special residence status for a period of 10 years, should be submitted to the State Immigration Office (Passport and Visa Police Department) in Yerevan or to the respective Embassy/Consulate of the Republic of Armenia.

Special passport of Armenia: important to know

Persons who have received special residence status are equated by rights and obligations with Armenian citizens, with the exception of military duty and participation in elections.

The standard deadline for review of applications is about 60 days, in exceptional cases, if additional questions arise, the review period may increase.

Foreigners of ethnic Armenian origin (based on documentary evidence) or individuals engaged in cultural, economic activities in the Armenian jurisdiction should be aware of the following:

  • if the application is rejected, a repeated application may be submitted no earlier than after a period of 1 year;
  • Special Passport of Armenia does not provide visa free regime for visiting CIS countries;
  • if the special passport is lost, the restoration of the document involves the payment of a fee to the state treasury in the amount of 75,000 Armenian drams (approximately 160 USD). 

There are no minimum requirements for stay for special residents: there is no need to spend a certain number of days in Armenia in order to maintain the status of a special resident.

Obtaining a special resident status does not affect tax standing of the individual. As a rule, foreigners need to live at least 183 days a year in Armenia in order to become a tax resident.   

Special residence status in Armenia – list of documents for application

Special residents are qualified to apply for Armenian citizenship if they have been residents in the country for the past three years. Since the Law on Citizenship does not define the term “permanent resident” and does not provide for minimum requirements for stay, in practice a three-year period is used to maintain resident status (temporary, permanent or special).    

In addition to the requirement of a three-year residence, the resident will have to pass a test for knowledge of the Constitution of Armenia. It is conducted in Armenian language, and the applicant will probably need to dedicate some time to obtain basic knowledge of the Armenian language before attempting the test. 

To obtain a special passport of Armenia, foreigners need to prepare the following set of documents:

  • a completed application;
  • a letter including information about current citizenship, about the previous citizenship(s) (if any), by indicating the reasons for loss of such citizenship(s), country of origin and nationality, reason for applying for a special passport of Armenia, other biographical information;
  • valid passport;
  • 6 passport size photos (high resolution);
  • receipt of payment of fees.

All documents should be submitted only in Armenian, be legalized, an apostilled. If you intend hiring our lawyers for the filing of the application, the documents can be sent by registered mail by courier service, such as FedEx, DHL, etc.

It should be borne in mind that the special status of residence is not automatically issued, it involves specific consideration of each application with particular caution. If the foreign citizen plans to visit Armenia for personal presence during the application process, the approximate length of stay in the country would be:

  • 2-3 days for the preparation of documents and application;
  • Time period for application review within 60 days (you may wait for the resolution outside of Armenia as well, as our lawyers will notify you of the status of the application);
  • 2-3 stays to complete formalities and receive Special Passport of Armenia. At this stage, a personal visit is not required – our lawyers will receive documents by proxy and forward them to you by postal service.

If you are interested in obtaining a special residence status for 10 years, you are welcome to contact us at the email address [email protected]. The cost of the service starts from 1200 EUR. This is certainly a great opportunity for foreign investors to get a special residence with relatively small volume of investment involved. Furthermore, substantial capital injections into the economy of Armenia allow to issue citizenship by investments in an expedited manner.    

You can contact our lawyers to receive consultation on opening bank accounts in Armenia, buying real estate, registering a company, applying for a residence permit and getting a visa to enter Armenia. We will prepare all the necessary documents required for foreign investors and businesspeople and relieve you of the whole paperwork as well save you considerable amount of time.