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Beyond minimum investments: Comparing Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs

17 March 2023

by Vikram Iyer

The Caribbean brings up images of breathtakingly beautiful islands, long white sandy beaches with clear blue water, bays, harbors with stunning views, friendly people, and delicious food and drinks.

From vacationing with your friends and relatives to permanently moving and settling with your family, the Caribbean citizenship by investment programs provides a simple, quick, and inexpensive route to a life in paradise. The Caribbean Five: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts and Nevis all boast about their citizenship by investment program. However, comparing the five countries offering economic citizenship to investors and finding which program is best for you and your family can be surprisingly tricky. Of course, the strength of the passport and the minimum investment requirements are crucial. But there are also other factors to consider when choosing which program is best for you.

Blindly opting for the country’s citizenship program offering the cheapest second passport could result in a costly mistake. Therefore, it would be wise to take all necessary precautions. We provide a comprehensive guide encompassing everything beyond visa-free access numbers and investment options. Our complete guide can help you understand other factors that make different programs suitable for different investors.

Strength of Passport

Country Visa-free access to
St. Kitts and Nevis 143 countries
Antigua and Barbuda 141 countries 
St. Lucia 136 countries
Grenada 135 countries
Dominica 133 countries

Investment Requirements

Several investment options are available to individuals seeking citizenship in the Caribbean. One of the most popular is the Sustainable Growth Fund investment option, which the Caribbean Five offer. This fund allows investors to contribute a certain amount of money to a national development fund in exchange for citizenship. 

Other options include real estate investment, government bonds, and enterprise investment. Each option has its unique benefits and requirements.

St. Kitts and Nevis

Sustainable Growth Fund

  • $125,000 for a single applicant ($150,000 from July 1, 2023)
  • $150,000 for the applicant and spouse ($175,000 from July 1, 2023)
  • $170,000 for a family of four ($195,000 from July 1, 2023)
  • $10,000 and $25,000 per additional dependent aged under 18 years and 18 & above, respectively  

Real Estate

  • $200,000 purchase of a unit of an approved development
  • $400,000 purchase of an approved private home

Public Good Investment

  • $175,000

Antigua and Barbuda

National Development Fund (NDF)

  • $100,000 for a family of four or less
  • $125,000 for a family of five or more

Real Estate

  • $200,000 for Single Ownership
  • $400,000 in case of joint purchase, with each applicant investing at least $200,000

Business Investment

  • $1.5 million for a single applicant
  • $400,000 if a joint investment provided the total investment is $5 million or more

University of the West Indies (UWI) fund

  • $150,000 for a family of six or more. Option not available for smaller families

Saint Lucia

National Economic Fund

  • $100,000 for a single applicant
  • $140,000 for the applicant and spouse
  • $150,000 for a family of four and $15,000 per additional dependent
  • $25,000 per additional qualifying dependent

National Action Bond

  • $300,000 plus a non-refundable administration fee of $50,000

Real Estate

  • $200,000

Enterprise Project

  • $3.5 million for a single applicant
  • $1 million per applicant in a joint application of a minimum of $6 million

Dominica

Economic Diversification Fund

  • $100,000 for a single applicant
  • $150,000 for the applicant and spouse
  • $175,000 for a family of five
  • $25,000 and $50,0000 per additional dependent under 18 years and 18 & above, respectively

Approved Real Estate Project

  • $200,000

Grenada

National Transformation Fund

  • $150,000 for a single applicant
  • $200,000 for the applicant and spouse
  • $200,000 for a family of four
  • $25,000 per additional dependent after the third dependent

Real Estate

  • $350,000 in an approved project
  • $220,000 for each share in the unit of an approved project

Assessing the passport’s strength and minimum investments may be adequate if you don’t plan on settling in the Caribbean. However, a professional or entrepreneur or a wealthy retiree cannot afford to ignore points like the country’s tax policy, air connectivity, or access to broadband internet.

For example, a family with young kids would like to consider the quality of the healthcare infrastructure, crime and public safety stats, and the cost of living. Meanwhile, somebody looking to upgrade his or her lifestyle would prefer to focus on finding the premium destination among the five countries.

Beyond minimum investments: Comparing Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs — Migronis


Why do people get Caribbean citizenship?

Cost of Living: the Caribbean vs. the US

The cost of living in the Caribbean is relatively high for two reasons. First, the Caribbean imports all commodities. And second, the government levies high duties and charges on imports, further increasing the cost of products and services for residents.

Countries

% of Cost of Living in the US

Antigua and Barbuda

87.1%

St. Kitts and Nevis

84.12%

St. Lucia

71.77%

Dominica

64.25%

Grenada

61.37%

Source

The cost of living for a citizenship investor can be significantly higher than for an ordinary resident in the Caribbean. Antigua’s interior regions have affordable homes, but the CIP-approved projects in the coastal region are comparable to the prices of those in destinations like Miami.

Ultimately, the cost of living in a country depends on your financial resources and lifestyle. However, this data gives you a general idea of how costly or cheap it will be to move from a country like the US to one of the five CBI countries in the Caribbean.

Taxes

St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda have zero income tax, meaning living in these countries for more than 183 days a year will result in zero income tax on your local and foreign incomes.

On the other hand, Grenada, Dominica, and St. Lucia have a peak income tax rate of 28%, 35%, and 30%, respectively. Further, dividends, royalties, and interest are tax-free except in Dominica and St. Lucia.

Tax residents in the Caribbean don’t pay any tax on capital gains and inheritances. In other words, moving to St. Kitts and Nevis or Antigua and Barbuda can lead to significant tax savings.

But don’t forget to consider the cost-of-living angle to ensure the money you save on taxes does not end up financing your routine life in your new country.

Healthcare

Suppose you want to move and settle in the country after getting your second passport. In that case, you would have to consider the quality of healthcare and medical infrastructure as essential parameters.

Irrespective of whether you have young kids or are a retired individual, choosing a country with the best medical facilities can prove to be a wise decision in the long run. An effective way to compare your options is to look at the proportion of hospital beds and physicians to the country’s population

Countries

Hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants

Physicians per 1000 inhabitants

     

Dominica

3.8

1.08

Grenada

3.57

1.45

Antigua and Barbuda

2.89

2.76

St. Kitts and Nevis

2.3

2.52

St. Lucia

1.3

0.11

Source: World Bank

Dominica has the most hospital beds but performs very poorly on the availability of physicians. In this respect, Grenada is better than Dominica. However, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis offer the best balance regarding their medical infrastructure’s physical and human components.

Irrespective of your choice, private health insurance with coverage for emergency evacuation is a must for all those planning to settle in the Caribbean.

Countries for investors with the best healthcare systems

Education

If you have young kids, quality education is a crucial factor that you should consider when choosing an investment program.

St. Kitts has multiple international schools offering American, Canadian, and UK curricula. Most Caribbean countries follow the UK curriculum and have a mix of public and private schools for primary and secondary schooling.

The All Saints University School of Medicine makes Dominica a good choice for giving your child a quality education at a reasonable cost. There are both public and private schools for young children, and the healthcare infrastructure is robust.

International students have to pay significantly higher fees, which means choosing the right country today can help you save thousands of dollars in the future.

If your child is interested in studying medicine, the American University of Antigua College of Medicine is an option. The tuition fees for citizens range up to $25,000, which is less when compared to $75,000+ in the US and other countries.

Broadband Internet

Nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine a life without access to high-speed broadband Internet. People moving to the Caribbean are highly likely to work remotely. So a stable and reliable internet connection is necessary for working with customers and clients worldwide and staying in touch with loved ones.

Countries

Fixed broadband subscriptions (per 100 people)

   

St. Kitts and Nevis

62.97

Grenada

25.88

Dominica

22.22

St. Lucia

18.41

Antigua and Barbuda

8.63

Source: World Bank

This data gives us a good idea about the availability and reliability of broadband internet in the Caribbean region. St. Kitts is way ahead of other countries. But the low numbers of the other countries indicate that you should prepare to put in the time and effort to set up the right high-speed net service for yourself and your family.

Beyond minimum investments: Comparing Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs — Migronis


How to buy an island?

Recreation

If you love beaches and are willing to pay a little extra for premium facilities, then Antigua & Barbuda is a great option. Referring to Antigua’s ‘365 beaches’, a resident clarifies, “It seems like a catchphrase but actually… we do have, literally, hundreds of pure white sand beaches.”

And if you are looking for something more than the sun and the surf, then St. Lucia’s attractions ranging from Sulfur Springs and a live volcano, can be a smart choice.

Choose Wisely

Unfortunately, comparing Caribbean citizenship by investment options is much more complicated than comparing investment requirements or the number of hospital beds.

You must identify the most important factors for you and your family, compare your options, and correlate your choice with the program’s requirements. St. Kitts may be a great place to settle, and the $200,000 real estate option may seem perfect.

However, finding a modern home with space, design and amenities suitable to your lifestyle can cost between $2 million to $5 million or even higher.

Here is where working with professionals with years of experience helping clients through the entire process can make your Caribbean citizenship decision smooth and hassle-free.   

Contact us today, to schedule a free consultation with our expert

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