Second citizenship

Why Vanuatu citizenship might be a smart choice

Investors choose to apply for a Vanuatu passport for several reasons. Most often it is to travel around the world without visas and become eligible for tax benefits. Sometimes, they select it in order to register an international company or open a business account in a European bank.

The education of their children is another reason why our clients choose Vanuatu citizenship. The state is part of the British Commonwealth, which means that Vanuatu citizens are eligible to apply for scholarships and concessional rates to study in the UK.

Investors often have questions about the country and citizenship procedure. For example, what is Vanuatu like, how does the program differ from the well-known Caribbean ones, and where is the oath of allegiance administered.

We got answers to these and other questions from Zlata Erlach, the head of the Immigrant Invest office in Austria and an expert in citizenship by investment programs.

Vanuatu citizenship by investment: Vanuatu history

Please tell us about Vanuatu: what kind of country is it? 

— Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific, east of Australia. It is one of the best resort areas in Melanesia. 

Due to the remoteness of the islands, their pristine nature has so far been preserved. Perhaps this will no longer be the case after another decade or two. This is one of Vanuatu’s priceless treasures. 

People come to the country to plunge into an unusual culture, go diving and sea fishing and see coral reefs. 

There are relatively few tourists, even from the East or Australia, which is an advantage for those who want to have a quiet break and relax away from the crowds. At the same time, Vanuatu’s infrastructure is quite well developed and it is part of the British Commonwealth. 

Classical tropical scenery: hotel swimming pool overlooking the ocean on Efate Island in Vanuatu

Natural pool with the world’s bluest water in the city of Luganville. Groundwater takes on this color when it rises to the surface through layers of limestone

Почему гражданство Вануату — рациональный выбор

Coral reefs off the coast of Espiritu Santo

Why do investors choose a Vanuatu passport?

— Many people know about the benefits of Caribbean citizenship as it is now well known. However, when investors find out that Vanuatu citizenship offers similar opportunities and at the same time is issued faster and is cheaper, they select it. Especially when their time and budget are limited.

Some applicants are put off by the geographical remoteness of Vanuatu. However, in fact, holders of a Caribbean passport rarely have to travel there. 

A Vanuatu passport, like those of the Caribbean countries, is used as a means of traveling around the world visa-free rather than for immigration. At the same time, everyone has their own goals: to travel without visas, legally reduce their tax obligations or register companies in a country where tax rates are low.

To find out what are the differences between these programs, I advise you to read our article  “9 Reasons to get a second passport”.

A Vanuatu passport is more often used to travel around the world rather than to immigrate. As a result, it doesn’t matter how remote the country is. The administration of the oath of allegiance and the issuance of a Vanuatu passport can take place remotely. 

Tell us about the unusual cases when investors have chosen a Vanuatu passport

— Recently we were approached by a political refugee, Narong, from Thailand, who was temporarily staying in Germany. With his passport, he could not travel outside the European Union as he would have been deported to his homeland. Therefore,he wanted to get a second passport and chose Vanuatu.

With his second passport, Narong stayed in the UK for four months and then returned to Germany. In Vanuatu, he registered a company and took advantage of the preferential tax rate applied to Vanuatu citizens. We wrote about this case in our article  “Vanuatu citizenship for freedom of movement around the world and business registration”. 

In 2020, the family of an Italian count received Vanuatu citizenship. Vittorio is an entrepreneur from Naples, the owner of a business that produces and supplies fabrics. He often came to St Petersburg to meet his business partners. 

Vittorio had to apply for a visa to visit Russia: previously he had to endure the tiring and drawn out procedure of submitting his documents at the consulate in Rome, wait and then return to collect his passport and visa. He grew tired of this endless bureaucratic process and decided to apply for a Vanuatu passport instead. We discussed this case in our article “Vanuatu citizenship for an Italian count”.

Is it difficult to get a Vanuatu passport? 

— In 2022, getting a Vanuatu passport is the easiest and fastest way to get a second citizenship. No other citizenship program in the world offers better conditions.

Vanuatu citizenship is issued within four weeks in return for investment in the country's economy. The cost for one applicant, including the Due Diligence and administrative fees, is $130,000.  

First, a fee of $5,000 is paid for an initial Due Diligence check. The investor needs to submit their passport, a certificate of no criminal record and a resume in English. Any family members included in the application for Vanuatu citizenship by investment together with the investor must also undergo a Due Diligence check. 

After the initial Due Diligence check, the investor pays 25% of the agreed investment amount, and then their application is submitted to the Vanuatu government committee dealing with citizenship by investment. Due to the pandemic, the waiting period has increased to 2-3 months.  

How was the oath of allegiance administered during the pandemic?

— As soon as the investor passes the Due Diligence check, it is time to take the oath. Before the pandemic, the law required the applicant and their family members included in the application to visit Vanuatu or Hong Kong for this or pay for the expenses of an honorary consul to travel to a location convenient for them. 

Due to the difficulty of traveling during the pandemic, the citizenship department decided to help investors and has allowed them to take the oath remotely online. 

Which family members can participate in the Vanuatu citizenship by investment program?

— The conditions of the program are quite supportive of family members and allow the following members to be included in the same application as the investor:

  • the main applicant’s spouse;
  • their children under 18; 
  • their children 18 to 25 years old who are financially dependent on the investor and are not married; 
  • parents of the main applicant and their spouse over 50 years of age. 

A child born after the investor obtains citizenship can also become a Vanuatu citizen for $15,000. 

What can one invest in to get Vanuatu citizenship? 

— The Vanuatu program offers only one investment option: a non-refundable contribution to the National Development Fund. The government invests the money received from the program in the economy. Perhaps in a couple of years there will be an option to invest in real estate.

What other opportunities does a Vanuatu passport offer?

— With Vanuatu citizenship, you can register an international company and open a bank account at a European bank. It might help you avoid possible currency control restrictions in your country of origin when settling transactions with your foreign partners. Foreign currency payments from accounts in a European bank are transferred faster and with lower fees, if any.

As I said, most often a Vanuatu passport is selected for traveling around the world without visas. Vanuatu citizens can visit 95 countries visa-free as of July, 2022. Free entry to the EU and Schengen countries is temporarily suspended for Vanuatu citizens.

Visa-free countries for Vanuatu citizens

Asia
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Armenia Visa on arrival
2 Bangladesh Visa on arrival
3 Cambodia Visa on arrival
4 Hong Kong Visa-free
5 Indonesia Visa-free
6 Iran Visa on arrival
7 Israel Visa-free
8 Jordan Visa on arrival
9 Laos Visa on arrival
10 Macao Visa on arrival
11 Malaysia Visa-free
12 Maldives Visa on arrival
13 Nepal Visa on arrival
14 Palestinian Territory Visa-free
15 Philippines Visa-free
16 Singapore Visa-free
17 Sri Lanka Electronic entry permit
18 Thailand Visa on arrival
19 Timor-Leste Visa on arrival
Africa
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Botswana Visa-free
2 Cape Verde Visa on arrival
3 Comoro Islands Visa on arrival
4 Egypt Visa on arrival
5 Eswatini Visa-free
6 Gambia Visa-free
7 Guinea-Bissau Visa on arrival
8 Kenya Visa-free
9 Lesotho Visa-free
10 Madagascar Visa on arrival
11 Malawi Visa on arrival
12 Mauritania Visa on arrival
13 Mauritius Visa-free
14 Mayotte Visa-free
15 Mozambique Visa on arrival
16 Reunion Visa-free
17 Rwanda Visa on arrival
18 Senegal Visa-free
19 Seychelles Visa on arrival
20 Sierra Leone Visa on arrival
21 Somalia Visa on arrival
22 Saint Helena Visa on arrival
23 Tanzania Visa-free
24 Togo Visa on arrival
25 Uganda Visa-free
26 Zambia Visa-free
27 Zimbabwe Visa-free
Europe
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Andorra Visa-free
2 Belarus Visa-free
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina Visa-free
4 Bulgaria Visa-free
5 Croatia Visa-free
6 Cyprus Visa-free
7 Faroe Islands Visa-free
8 Gibraltar Visa-free
9 Ireland Visa-free
10 Kosovo Visa-free
11 Moldova Visa-free
12 Monaco Visa-free
13 Montenegro Visa-free
14 Romania Visa-free
15 Russia Visa-free
16 San Marino Visa-free
17 United Kingdom Visa-free
18 Vatican City Visa-free
Oceania
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Cook Islands Visa-free
2 Fiji Visa-free
3 French Polynesia Visa-free
4 Kiribati Visa-free
5 Marshall Islands Visa on arrival
6 Micronesia Visa-free
7 Nauru Visa on arrival
8 New Caledonia Visa-free
9 Niue Visa-free
10 Palau Visa on arrival
11 Papua New Guinea Visa on arrival
12 Samoa Visa on arrival
13 Solomon Islands Visa on arrival
14 Tonga Visa on arrival
15 Tuvalu Visa on arrival
North America
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Anguilla Visa-free
2 Antigua and Barbuda Visa-free
3 Bahamas Visa-free
4 Barbados Visa-free
5 Belize Visa-free
6 Bermuda Visa-free
7 British Virgin Islands Visa-free
8 Cayman Islands Visa-free
9 Costa Rica Visa-free
10 Dominica Visa-free
11 Dominican Republic  Visa-free
12 El Salvador Visa-free
13 French West Indies Visa-free
14 Greenland Visa-free
15 Grenada Visa-free
16 Guatemala Visa-free
17 Haiti Visa-free
18 Honduras Visa-free
19 Jamaica Visa-free
20 Montserrat Visa-free
21 Nicaragua Visa-free
22 Panama Visa-free
23 St Kitts and Nevis Visa-free
24 St Lucia Visa-free
25 St Vincent and the Grenadines Visa-free
26 Trinidad and Tobago Visa-free
South America
No. Country Entry conditions
1 Bolivia Visa on arrival
2 Ecuador Visa-free
3 French Guiana Visa-free
4 Peru Visa-free

 

Are there benefits and concessions for Vanuatu citizens when studying in the UK? 

— Yes, Commonwealth scholarships at British universities are available for Vanuatu citizens. The children of investors who received Vanuatu passports under the citizenship by investment program may be eligible to apply for some of these scholarships: for example, the Commonwealth Rutherford Fellowships. 

What are the tax rates in Vanuatu?

— The short answer is low. I’ll tell you more.

There are no taxes in Vanuatu on wealth, capital gains, inheritance, dividends, interest, global income or stock exchange profits.

In order to legally reduce their taxation, a Vanuatu citizen needs to become a tax resident of the country. To do this, they need to confirm that they spend at least 183 days a year in Vanuatu.

Another way of reducing your tax burden is by registering a company in Vanuatu. International Business Companies (IBCs) established in the country are exempt from taxes for 20 years. Instead of taxes, they make an annual payment of $300 to the government of Vanuatu.

The VAT rate for international companies is 12.5%.

Is it possible to get a US visa with a Vanuatu passport?

— Yes, Vanuatu citizens can obtain a US B-1/B-2 visa for up to 5 years.

They can submit their application to a US Consulate in any of the countries where they can enter visa-free. The US visa is issued in about 2 weeks.

With a B-1/B-2 visa, the holder can stay in the US for up to 180 days a year. However, you need to apply for a different category of visa if you want to work or study in the US.

What issues does Immigrant Invest help solve after their client obtains a Vanuatu passport?

— Our lawyers not only accompany our clients until they get citizenship but also provide additional services after they get citizenship.

Most often, our clients contact us with the following requests: 

  • register a company name in Vanuatu;
  • prepare a business license application;
  • open a bank account on their behalf;
  • renew their passport;
  • arrange for the issuance of an ID-card;
  • help arrange a birth or marriage certificate to be issued.

Zlata, what is your advice to those choosing a country of second citizenship?

— First of all, think of your goals rather than simply follow the fashionable trend when selecting a country for a second passport. When Pavel Durov received a St Kitts and Nevis passport by investment, many of our clients also wanted to apply for citizenship of this particular country.

I hope that in the future one of our famous clients will choose to get a Vanuatu passport: then there will be a dramatic increase in the number of international citizens with a Vanuatu passport. Seriously, the Vanuatu passport is already extremely useful. It makes no sense to make a larger investment in another program if Vanuatu citizenship can help you attain your goals.

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Why Vanuatu citizenship might be a smart choice