In case you didn’t know, thanks to Citizenship by Investment, it is now possible to legally purchase second citizenship and gain a brand new passport to a country other than your own. Only eight nations in the world currently offer CBI programs, but which five provide the best value?
Upon reading the title of this piece, an individual might be compelled to ask the question “Why would anybody wish to “buy citizenship”“? “Surely” they may say to themselves “your citizenship is your birthright, granted to you either by the country of your birth or your parent’s parentage, and that is what you will remain for your life time”.
While that’s great for people born in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, plus any country you wish to name from Western Europe, it’s not so great for folks from despot ruled nations in Africa, countries cast in the role of pariah states in the Middle East, and nations looked upon with major suspicion in Asia. If you hail from Canada, the UK or Germany, you know that no matter where you go in the world, you will on the whole be welcomed with open arms. Your passport will get you into countries visa free, banks will be only too happy to do business with you, and local businessmen are willing to trade with you. That might not be the case if you come from Iran, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Pakistan or India.
However, it’s now possible for a person from a severely ostracized nation like Somalia to gain a second passport and citizenship to a Caribbean or European Union country in a matter of months, thanks to Citizenship by Investment, or CBI as it is also known.
The Difference Between Residency and Citizenship
There is a massive difference between a residency program and a second citizenship program. Many countries in the world offer residency in return for investment via Investor Visa, Residency by Investments and Golden Visa programs. Basically, all of these programs offer the same thing; they give an investor five years of temporary residency in a specified country in return for a five-year investment, normally in the shape of a real estate purchase or an investment into Government Bonds. After five years, the investor can apply for permanent residency, and after a year of being a permanent resident, the investor can then apply for citizenship to that country. So basically, an investor who partakes in an investment program needs to plan ahead and realize that this process will take six years of their lives.
By comparison, a Citizenship by Investments program guarantees an investor the full citizenship and passport of a country within 12 months of them entering into a program, and often much quicker. Only eight countries in the world offer CBI programs, and they are located in the European Union and the Caribbean; the EU countries are Austria, Cyprus and Malta, while the Caribbean nations are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Because EU passports are far more powerful than their Caribbean counterparts, and citizenship to a European Union country guarantees the holder the right to live and work in any other EU country indefinitely, the CBI programs of Austria, Cyprus and Malta are all considerably more expensive those of the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the program of Malta is relatively affordable, especially when one considers that the bulk of the investments made (real estate and bonds) will remain the investor’s property.
Below are the Top-Five Countries in the world where one can literally “Buy Citizenship”
Malta – €1.2 million
Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. With a landmass of 316 km2 and a population of slightly less than 500,000, it is the smallest legitimate country in the EU. What Malta may lack in size, it more than makes up for in personality. Its people are a hybrid of Italian and British, and combine the vivacity and passion for life of the former and the resoluteness and decency of the latter. The result is an island that boasts a burgeoning touristic industry, is a viable banking and tax-haven (and thus a favorite with many major online gaming and gambling websites). This all adds up to a strong and growing economy.
Malta is the cheapest option of the three European Union countries that offer CBI programs. The most expensive is that of Austria, who require a €3 million nonrefundable charitable investment or a €10 million business investment in return for their citizenship and passport. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus recently reduced their CBI program of €5 million to a more affordable €2 million.
And then there is Malta. For a combined financial outlay of €1.2 million made up of a real estate purchase, government bond investments and a charitable donation, an individual can gain Maltese citizenship and a powerful EU passport with visa free access to 167 countries.
In addition, as an EU citizen, you would be legally entitled to live and work in any of the countries in the European Union without limitations on time and with the same rights as local citizens. So an individual from Somalia could gain Maltese citizenship via its CBI program and then choose to live, work and raise a family in Germany, if they wanted to.
The combination of the freedom EU citizenship brings plus the visa-free access a European Union passport guarantees is what makes European CBI considerably more expensive than that of its Caribbean counterparts.
Grenada – $350,000
Grenada is a beautiful West Indian, Caribbean island nation, historically famous for its spices and an American invasion in the 1980s, but more recently for its tourism, and status as a banking and tax haven. Grenada is located in the Lesser Antilles, off the coast of Venezuela, and sits in between Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is sometimes called the “Island of Spice” due to its production and exportation of nutmeg and mace.
Whilst spice has given Grenada its fame, tourism and banking are now its no.1 source of income. The island lends itself naturally to all levels of holiday, from the traditional family getaway, to fans of extreme beach and water-sports. Grenada’s dense rainforests full of exotic wildlife are a must-see for explorers and ecotourists.
Like many Caribbean nations, Grenada offers a level of discreet banking that is no longer available in Western Europe or North America, and as a result has proven popular with business people from the US and Europe, as well as the Middle East and Asia.
Grenada is also one of only eight nations in the world that offer CBI programs, and the most recent addition to this family, opening for business in 2013. In order to become a Grenada citizen by virtue of its CBI program, an investor must purchase a minimum of $350,000 worth of Grenada real estate, and retain ownership for a minimum four years. As a citizen of Grenada an investor would be the holder of a powerful passport with visa-free entry to 124 countries.
Dominica – $100,000
Another West Indian, Caribbean island nation offering citizenship by investment is Dominica. Of all of the CBI carrying Caribbean islands, Dominica – or “The Nature Island” as it is affectionately called – is the least commercialized. As a result, its CBI program is the most economical on the market, and can be purchased for just $100,000, making it extraordinary value, considering it also delivers a passport with visa-free access to 119 countries.
At 750 km2 with a population of 73,000, Dominica is a volcanic island largely covered in dense rainforest, and is home to one of the largest Boiling Lakes in the world. The island is a popular extreme sports and ecotourist destination, and is also one of the prime whale watching locations in the Caribbean.
Despite its rainforests, volcanoes and wild life, Dominica is also home to a well-structured business community and offers highly efficient and discreet banking and tax shelter facilities. Dominica’s credibility in banking and business is reflected by its membership of CARICOM, CFATF, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Commonwealth of Nations, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Organization of American States (OAS).
The Dominican CBI program offers an investor the opportunity of becoming a Dominican citizen and passport holder in return for a non-refundable charitable donation of US $100,000.
St. Kitts and Nevis – $250,000
For many foreign investors who are knowledgeable about the machinations of CBI, the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program is the best on the market – EU programs included. That is high praise indeed, but it is tough to argue against it. For a fraction of the cost of the Malta program, St. Kitts and Nevis grants a powerful passport with visa-free access to 136 countries, including all of Europe.
There are several factors as to why the St. Kitts and Nevis program is so good; for one, as the creators of the first ever Citizenship by Investment program in 1984, they have had more practice and experience than anyone else. Also, they have twice had major overhauls of their program, in 2007, and in 2016.
The 2007 update was so successful it helped save the country from total collapse, and resulted in CBI becoming St. Kitts and Nevis’ no.1 export. In 2016 St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris announced these additional improvements to the CBI program:
- A 24/7 Case Management System, which is the first of its kind in the world of CBI industry
- Online System Accessibility for Applicants, allowing applicants to track the progress of their citizenship
- 45-75 Days For CBI Completion, which makes the St. Kitts and Nevis program the fastest in the world
If you are a business person from the EU or the US, you will be only too familiar with St. Kitts and Nevis’s capacity as a banking and tax-shelter haven. However, if you are an ambitious but frustrated high net-worth individual from Africa, Asia or the Middle East, you will likely look toward St. Kitts and Nevis as the means of obtaining second citizenship and a far better passport than the one that is currently holding you back in your business life.
The St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program presents investors with two options:
- A nonrefundable charitable donation for the minimum amount of $250,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF)
- A recoverable real estate purchase of $400,000
Antigua and Barbuda – $200,000
Why would 2ndPassports.com consider Antigua and Barbuda’s CBI program the best value of the five listed in this article? Could it be that Robert De Niro is an honorary ambassador of the islands, and we have no intention of upsetting Don Vito Corleone… ?
All jokes aside, Antigua and Barbuda is a beautiful island with a powerful passport that has visa free access to 136 countries. It is also undergoing a major overhaul and enjoying massive investment as it bids to become “the Dubai of the Caribbean.” As a result, there has never been a better time to invest in the country via citizenship by investment than right now.
Antigua is the largest and most developed of the two islands, with almost 90,000 people living there (compared to just 2,000 currently living on Barbuda) and has several 5-star hotels and luxury resorts, as well as multiple bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Antigua is also the country’s business center, with offshore investment banks like Davos International Bank, BOI Bank Corporation, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Scotiabank based there.
However, Barbuda’s profile is about to get a whole lot higher, thanks in part to the aforementioned Mr. Robert De Niro. Hollywood legend De Niro and his Australian business partner billionaire James Packer have invested over $250 million into “Paradise Found”, a “Millionaire’s Playground” complete with more than 50 luxury villas, a hotel, a night club, a casino and an airport large enough to handle private jets and helicopters.
That’s not all; in 2016 Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne followed up a highly successful tour of the Middle East by announcing his intention of turning his country into the “Dubai of the Caribbean”, with 10,000 new hotel rooms and a direct flight from the Middle-Eastern economic powerhouse to his country.
Investors keen to become Antigua and Barbuda citizens can do so by one of three options:
- Via a non-refundable Charitable Donation of US$200,000 donation to the Antigua and Barbuda National Development Fund (NDF)
- Via a $400,000 Real Estate Purchase which cannot be sold until five years after the completion of purchase
- Via a $1.5 million Business Investment, which must be maintained for five years.
For more information on any of the citizenship by investment programs listed above, the CBI programs of Austria, Cyprus and Saint Lucia, or any of the Golden Visa and Residency by Investment programs currently available, feel free to contact 2ndPassports.com today, or at any time.
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