Foreign pensioners will find it much easier to retire to Albania if a new draft law currently being debated in parliament is approved.
Currently, elderly or retired foreign citizens have to provide a ‘reason’ for being here such as family reunification or a job. Those that are retired can apply for a permit as a volunteer but they are required to pay tax and social security contributions, despite not receiving a salary for volunteer work.
Under the draft law ‘On Foreigners’, retirees may now apply for a permit specifically for them. Article 85 of the law says that all foreign citizens who are entitled to draw a pension in their home country can apply for a retiree permit in Albania.
In order to qualify, they must present a notarized rental contract, proof on an annual pension with a minimum value of 1.2 million ALL (EUR 9722), health insurance, an Albanian bank account into which the pension must be deposited, and a clean criminal record.
The permit is renewable every year but the individual is not allowed to carry out any economic or professional activities while in Albania.
Other categories of immigrants that will benefit from the new law include researchers and students. They will have the right to reside for nine months after their studies finish, enabling them to look for work in the country.
Lastly, following an influx of ‘digital nomads’ who choose to live in Albania while working for a foreign company abroad, the law will now provide a permit for them as well. Previously, they would have to set up a company to pay themselves, find a local employer, or be in a civil partnership with an Albanian citizen in order to remain legal.
Unfortunately for pensioners, the clause regarding having the pension deposited into an Albanian bank account may prove problematic for some. High fees for transferring money internationally can result in significant losses for pensioners.
This is also an issue that has been highlighted by foreigners applying for other permits that do not want or cannot afford to pay fees of up to EUR 60 per transaction to deposit into an Albanian bank.
Another problem that has been highlighted by foreign residents is the process whereby after getting the permit, they have to go through the same process a second time to register at the Municipality. The documents required by both institutions are the same and include apostilled birth certificates, notarized passport copies, rental contracts, family certificates, and criminal record checks.
Some foreigners reported costs of around EUR 500 for each application due to the costs of acquiring and legalizing these documents. For those on a pension or a local salary, these costs are out of reach.
The new draft law should streamline this, combining the two processes into one application. It is also expected to provide greater clarification on processes, deadlines, and requirements. The overall aim is to bring the process in line with EU legislation on migrants residing in member states.
The law also foresees the issuance of visas taking place online instead of requiring multiple trips to an immigration office.