One of the most appealing destinations for foreign high net worth investors looking to establish themselves in Europe is Belgium. The acquisition of Belgian citizenship grants an individual EU membership status, plus ownership of one of the most powerful passports in the world.
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is the legal practice carried out by high net-worth individuals of investing a specific financial amount into the infrastructure of a foreign country and in return receiving that nation’s citizenship and passport. The two most commonly sought-after zones for CBI are the Caribbean and the European Union (EU).
The cost of such an investment can be as low as less than $100,000 or as high as in the multi-millions, depending on the country and the demands a country stipulates from the investor.
Benefits Of Belgian Citizenship and Passport
As we all have already established, ambitious and wealthy Arabs, Asians and Africans who feel hindered by the poorly performing passports of their homelands would ideally love to hold dual citizenship and a second passport to an EU country.
The great news for these individuals is that a whole host of EU countries have Citizenship by Investment programs, including Austria, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Hungary, Portugal and Belgian. Even heavyweight European nations like France and Germany have their own versions of CBI programs, but these involve a high level of residency on the part of the applicant.
One of the most interesting citizenship programs is that of Belgium, as it is not overly expensive, requires very little of the applicant in terms of residential demands, and yet results in citizenship to one of the most respected cornerstone-nations of the EU. In fact, Brussels hosts the EU headquarters, as well as those of NATO.
The Belgian Residence Program (BRP) has no minimum residency requirements of its applicants, and yet they can apply for Permanent Residence (PR) and full Belgian citizenship after five years. It is specifically aimed at businesspeople, and the requirement is that applicants invest 350-500,000 in a new Belgian business, or take over an existing business. The bottom line is that the business employs Belgian labor.
As there are no demands on how much time applicants must spend in Belgium, applicants could leave the business in the hands of management while they go off and pursue other avenues of their lives. As Belgian residents, they will have complete freedom of movement throughout Europe’s Schengen Area. After five years of maintaining their Belgian business, they will be eligible for full Belgian citizenship and a passport that in terms of power is ranked joint-fourth in the world, and has access to 174 countries, visa free.
Why CBI in the Caribbean?
Why do wealthy investors want citizenship to a Caribbean nation? Plain and simple, Caribbean and Central American countries like the Cayman Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala provide a level of discrete banking that disappeared from North America and Western Europe decades ago. Being a foreigner and using the banks of these nations works well to a degree, but holding a passport and being a citizen takes legitimacy, security and privacy to a whole other level.
It is conservatively estimated that some $50 trillion is stashed in Caribbean and Central American banks, including vast sums from China, as well as every major corporation in the world. Business people looking to safeguard their wealth and assets can rely on the discretion and creativity of Caribbean banks. The fact that there is an almost complete lack of taxation on off-shore holdings, tax-shelters and bank accounts is also highly appealing.
Why CBI in the EU?
The type of high net-worth individual who desires an EU passport is usually someone looking to travel freely for business purposes. While the banks in the EU are becoming increasingly transparent and wealthy individuals are looking at a 40% tax rate throughout Western Europe, the EU passport is in a league of its own when it comes to freedom of movement.
Areas of the globe like Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are producing more and more extremely wealthy people who are tired of being hamstrung by the underperforming passport provided them by their country of birth. Some of the most powerful and wealthy nations on earth have surprisingly poorly performing passports. A passport’s performance – often referred to as its Power – is measured by the amount of countries it grants its holder access to visa-free.
For example, Saudi Arabia has been the richest state in the Middle East since the 1930s and remains a loyal ally to the West, and yet its passport has access to just 69 countries. China is already established as a global economic powerhouse and in the coming years experts believe that India will duplicate that country’s achievements. Between them China and India account for more than a third of the world’s population, and yet their passports perform equally embarrassingly. Wealthy Chinese passport holders Â have access to just 50 countries visa-free, while even the richest Indians are restricted to visa-free travel to just only 52 countries.
By contrast, the most powerful passport in the world is that of Germany, and it grants its holder access to an impressive 177 countries worldwide visa free. The average EU passport has access to more than 160 countries.
If you would you like more information about the Belgian Residence Program, or you are curious as to what other EU nations with CBI programs have to offer, or wish to know more about CBI programs in the Caribbean, 2ndPassports.com are here to help and advise you. Feel free to contact us via email, WhatsApp or Telegram.
If you prefer you can chat to one of our expert representatives directly you can call us using our encrypted phone and Skype lines. All of our contact details are listed at the top of the 2ndPassports.com homepage.
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