High-income individuals who are looking for means to expand their travelling freedom, and better tax optimization opportunities – but still have not settled for a specific second-passport country will find the following reading informative.
Let’s talk about acquisition of your second citizenship through investing in a real estate, or donating to a government fund, of one of the Caribbean countries that offer their passports in exchange for foreign investment. We’ll discuss the benefits of a Caribbean passport, nuances of government citizenship programs, and financial requirements.
The magnetism of a Caribbean passport
The Caribbean Basin countries have been affected, to varying degrees, by the 2017 hurricanes. To alleviate the financial burden of consequence mitigation, and attract more foreign investment, some of the countries with citizenship by investment programs have reduced the cost of their passports. The forced but necessary discount is not the only appeal of a Caribbean passport, though.
We have compiled a comprehensive and impressive list of the common benefits of a second Caribbean citizenship:
- Visa-free movement. The investors can forget about visa-induced headaches, time, finance, and effort-wise. Over 100 countries are unlocking their borders before the holders of Caribbean passports, including Schengen countries and the UK. Long-term US and Canada visas are much easier to obtain with a Caribbean passport.
- In case of any unforeseen circumstances in the investor’s homeland, a safe alternative place of residence is at the ready, with all the necessary means to lead a comfortable life and manage business.
- An advantageous taxation system. Caribbean countries don’t impose most of the taxes we are used to, which is especially important to investors.
- The processing takes from 3 to 5 months. The investor may oversee the process remotely, and all the paperwork is handled by certified local agents. The passport is then delivered to the investor, so it is not necessary to travel to retrieve it.
- Confidentiality. Caribbean countries allow dual citizenship and do not disseminate any information about the applicants to any third parties.
- There are no residence requirements for retaining the status.
The most noticeable difference between the European and Caribbean citizenship through investment programs is, of course, the cost, and the program requirements as well; while the EU countries are imposing quite strict requirements on the applicants, the Caribbean countries are not as strict.
Compare: Malta’s CBI program is considered to be Europe’s most accessible, and its minimum investment amount is €816,000, and the minimum entry threshold for a Caribbean program is $100,000. A pretty good alternative, isn’t it?
What Saint Kitts and Nevis has to offer
A Saint Kitts and Nevis passport is a signifier of safety, comfort and beautiful perspectives. Presently, it is the most popular Caribbean passport that offers visa-free access to many developed countries, better taxation prospects, and allows to easily obtain long-term US and Canada visas.
The program was launched in 1984, and is world’s oldest citizenship by investment program. Its success is easily represented by numbers: approximately 11,000 foreign investors have become Kittitians.
A foreign national can become a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis for a minimum of $150,000 (this is with the temporary 40% discount) donation to the Hurricane Relief Fund. Another investment option is through purchase of elite real estate objects, at the starting price of $400,000. The water-front property then may be resold, but only after 5 years of obtaining the passport.
One of the advantages of the program is lack of residence requirement – that is, the applicant is not obliged to spend a single day on the island in order to retain the status of a citizen. It is not necessary to travel to Saint Kitts and Nevis, to become a citizen, too, since it is possible to submit biometrics in one’s original country of residence.
Become an economic citizen of Antigua and Barbuda
The Antigua and Barbuda CBI program has been functioning since 2013, and, according to official statistics, over 2,000 applications have been approved by the local authorities since then. The undeniable advantage of the program is that it facilitates the process of getting a 10-year US visa.
There are two main and most popular ways of obtaining this passport: a non-refundable donation to the National Development Fund, and purchase of a real estate object from a government-approved list. The minimum donation is $100,000, and the cost of a villa or an apartment starts at $400,000. There are also some additional fees that have to be considered. The island is a tourist-favoured destination, and the residential real estate is of high liquidity.
Pay attention: There is no requirement for physical presence in the country, but it still is necessary to stay in Antigua and Barbuda for at least 5 years within the first 5 years after obtaining the citizenship.
Defy borders with a passport of Grenada
Grenada has launched its citizenship by investment program in 1997. According to the latest data released by the Grenadian Ministry of Finance and Energy, the interest of foreign investors in the program has shot up by 300% compared to the last year; 449 applications were approved in the first half of 2017.
Similar to other Caribbean programs, the two most popular ways of becoming a citizen of Grenada are donation to the government fund ($200,000 for a family of 4 to the National Transformation Fund, in Grenada’s case), or purchase of real estate at the starting price of $350,000. In 4 years, the investor may choose to sell the property and recover the investment.
Pay attention: Grenada’s geographical location is safer than that of its neighbours – there is no danger of Atlantic hurricanes that have damaged the economy and infrastructure of the Caribbean region way more than once. That is why investing in Grenada’s real estate is not as risky as in other Caribbean nations with CBI programs.
Passport of Dominica, a key to many freedoms
Dominica’s passport superpower is its cost. A single applicant may become a citizen by exchanging for the passport a non-refundable $100,000 donation to the Government Fund, or investing at least $200,000 in real estate, which then must be held for at least 3 years. Since the launch of the program in 1993, over 2,000 foreign nationals have received their Grenadian passports.
In order to attract more foreign investors, Dominica’s authorities have, in 2017, crossed a couple of items out of the list of documents necessary for submission, such as financial reports, bank references, personal references, and vaccination records. This measure is not an unwelcome one, however, it was not a revolutionary move.
Saint Lucia and the powers of a Caribbean passport
The legal basis of the CBI program has been finalized by the Saint Lucian authorities in 2015. There is the option of National Economic Fund donation ($100,000 for a single applicant, $190,000 for a family of 4), and real estate investment option (at a starting price of $300,000). Whatever the choice, the processing does not take longer than 4 months.
One of Saint Lucia’s leading advantages is high level of confidentiality and personal data security while conducting cross-border business — no details are disclosed to third parties, and the authorities have the right to reject the request to disseminate information on the investor’s business activities.
A growing number of wealthy businesspersons and VIPs is paying attention to the entire new world of opportunities that a second passport can offer. All Caribbean offers are similar: tax planning, business expansion, world travelling, so one of the crucial factors here is, perhaps, the cost, which varies from case to case, from country to country. Cost-wise, it makes more sense for family of 4 to apply for Antiguan citizenship, and for a single applicant, to choose between Saint Lucia and Dominica. Due diligence check, another factor based on official statistics, is less tedious in Dominica than in, say, Grenada.
The choices are aplenty, and every Caribbean option has its pros. Making up your mind may take some time, but one thing is indisputable: the rest of the world becomes less distant, and the goods that it has to offer become more easily accessible. Isn’t it the time to seize this chance?