There are many reasons to invest in a second citizenship, ranging from personal safety, increased global mobility to tax optimization for personal and corporate. We selected 9 countries that offer citizenship by investment, that are the most popular among our clients.
What is citizenship by investment?
Citizenship of some countries can be obtained by investing money in the local economy: buying real estate or securities, starting a business, or creating jobs. This citizenship is called investment citizenship. If you decide to obtain citizenship by investment, you do not need to speak the language of the country or even do not have to reside in the country.
Obtaining passports in some countries is easier and faster than in others. For example, you can become a citizen of Grenada in just 60 days and invest $ 150,000. Grenada’s passport opens visa-free travel to the Schengen Area and the UK, and also makes it possible to obtain a long-term business visa to the United States.
Citizenship by Investment Ranking
based on the choice of our clients who have obtained a second citizenship
from 1 January 2019 to June 2020
|№||Country of the program||Timeline||Cost for one applicant|
|1||Malta||12—14 months||from 800 000 €|
|2||Cyprus||6—8 months||from 2 200 000 €|
|3||Vanuatu||1—2 months||from 130 000 $|
|4||Grenada||4—6 months||from 150 000 $|
|5||Saint Kitts and Nevis||3—6 months||from 150 000 $|
|6||Saint Lucia||2—6 months||from100 000 $|
|7||Dominica||2—6 months||from 100 000 $|
|8||Antigua and Barbuda||3—6 months||from 100 000 $|
|9||Montenegro||4—6 months||from 350 000 €|
Why do people invest in a second citizenship?
Citizenship by Investment is a way to obtain a second citizenship. Some countries allow their citizens to have a second citizenship. But there are countries like Spain and Germany that do not allow second citizenship. If you acquire a Spanish passport, you must renounce Russian citizenship.
The second citizenship does not oblige the bearer to live in a country and offers the following opportunities:
- enter 120-180 countries of the world without visas, including the EU and the USA;
- obtain citizenship immediately for the whole family;
- register a company and do business in another country;
- acquire all rights on an equal basis with residents: teach children in schools and universities for free or cheaper than for foreigners, enjoy tax benefits, get medical treatment in the local clinics;
- quickly move to another country in case of an unforeseen event.
Second citizenship is not a dual citizenship. Dual citizenship means that two countries recognize a person as their full-fledged citizen with the obligation to pay taxes only in the country of permanent physical residence.
How to obtain citizenship by investment
All countries have different conditions for issuing second citizenship by investment. The amounts and types of investments, requirements for investor, registration costs, investment terms, and the process of obtaining citizenship differ.
The investment amount may consist of several parts. One part is an irrevocable contribution to the country’s economy in exchange for a passport: this money cannot be returned. The second possible part is an investment in the local real estate, securities, business, or other assets. They can be sold on average after 5 years. Such investments can be profitable.
One will also have to pay state fees, lawyers’ services, translation, and legalization of documents. If you buy real estate, additional costs will be required to pay taxes and services provided by lawyers.
The requirements for an investor are different in each country. First of all, you need to show sufficient income or significant savings, which will be enough to support the family.
An investor can apply for citizenship immediately for the entire family: spouse, children, and applicant’s parents. Each additional applicant, including spouse and children, will have to pay extra fees. An important condition: children over 18 and parents must be financially dependent on the investor.
Due Diligence Procedure is an important stage of any investment program. In other words, this procedure is called a reliability assessment.
Local authorities, with the help of the international criminal police, verify that the money for the investment has been earned legally. In most programs, this is a paid service. On average, Due Diligence costs $ 7,000-10,000 for the main applicant.
Many countries offer citizenship by investment. Based on the choice of our clients, Malta, Cyprus, Montenegro, the Caribbean, and Vanuatu have the most attractive investment programs. Let’s look at them in more detail to help you decide on the choice of the state that is suitable for your goals.
Citizenship by Investment in Europe
The Maltese and Cypriot programs are the most popular among European citizenship by investment programs. The Maltese program is recognized by the European Commission as the safest and most attractive.
Both programs offer several investment options. The Maltese program is 2.5 times cheaper, but most of the investments are non-returnable (from € 650,000). It is necessary to invest € 150,000 in government securities of Malta and buy real estate from € 700,000 (or rent from € 18,000 per year). But after 5 years they can be sold and, if you are lucky, even make a profit – while your citizenship remains intact. As for the Cypriot program, in 3 or 5 years, you can return most of the investment – from € 1,500,000, leaving only housing with a minimum value of € 500,000 in lifetime ownership. It can be resold, but you must have real estate for the same amount.
Citizenship of Malta or Cyprus is an ideal option for those who build a business in European countries, want to establish contacts with European partners, and often attend business meetings. With EU citizenship, you will not have to waste time on visa processing, and bank transfers will be faster due to the lack of foreign exchange controls.
EU citizenship also allows the children of investors to enter a European university, stay in the country, work after graduation, and find a prestigious job.
Investors with second citizenship of Malta or Cyprus receive tax incentives and access to the EU medical system, as well as the ability to choose a tax jurisdiction and quickly move abroad in case of an unforeseen situation.
Malta is an island state in the Mediterranean Sea to the south of Sicily. It is smaller than Moscow, but it is part of the European Union and the British Commonwealth of Nations, so the citizens of the country are simultaneously citizens of the EU and the Commonwealth.
Montenegro is still a candidate country for joining the European Union. As of today, the Montenegrin passport does not allow to work in the EU and stay for more than 90 days in a row. But on the other hand, you can visit more than 120 countries without a visa, including the Schengen zone. You will need visas to enter the UK and Ireland.
Montenegrin citizens can also apply for an E-2 business visa to the United States. It provides entry and residence in the United States for the investor’s entire family.
Montenegro has a favorable taxation system. There is no control over currency transactions, income and dividend tax is only 9%, inheritance tax – 3%, real estate – 0.1-1%. The real estate market in Montenegro is one of the most promising in the region.
So far, Montenegro’s program is in less demand among investors. The Montenegrin passport provides the same opportunities as the Vanuatu program but costs several times more. After joining the European Union, the value of the Montenegrin passport will significantly increase.
Before Montenegro joins EU, its passport remains an attractive tool for travel purposes in the Schengen Area and the United States.
Comparison of European Citizenship by Investment Programs
|Malta|| € 600 000—750 000 — to the national fund for the main applicant; |
€ 10 000 一 charitable contribution;
€ 150 000 — securities;
€ 700 000 — purchase of real estate or rent from
€ 18,000 per year for 5 years
|Cyprus|| € 200 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
€ 2 000 000 — real estate, business or securities of Cypriot companies;
from € 500 000 — purchase of residential property;
|Montenegro|| € 100 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
€ 250 000 или € 450 000 — share in government-approved projects;
Citizenship by Investment in the Caribbean and Vanuatu
Vanuatu is a state in Oceania that also has an investment program. The Vanuatu passport is most often used as a travel document. It also provides visa-free travel to the Schengen Area and the UK. A Vanuatu passport can be obtained through an investment of $ 130,000 or more in the country’s economy under the Vanuatu Development Support Program.
Vanuatu has the simplest and cheapest citizenship by investment conditions in the world. In our ranking, the country’s program ranks third after Malta and Cyprus. It is the fastest low-cost program: citizenship can be obtained in just a month. All documents can be collected remotely and investors actively use this possibility.
Vanuatu has a favorable taxation system. Tax rates are the same for residents and non-residents. The country has no taxes on income, wealth, inheritance, capital gains, and export, income from securities. International companies are exempt from paying taxes for 20 years, limited only to paying an annual fee of $ 300.
Caribbean programs. Obtaining a passport of one of the five Caribbean countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Nevis – is easier than in European countries. The minimum threshold for investment in the local economy is $ 100,000-150,000. The term of obtaining citizenship by investment is only from 2 to 6 months.
You can choose one of the investment options: a non-refundable contribution to the state fund or returnable investments in real estate, business, or securities. To obtain a passport, there is no need to come to the country, except for Antigua and Barbuda, where you need to stay 5 days within 5 years.
Administrative expenses will be $ 25,000-50,000 for the main applicant, and Due Diligence expenses – $ 5,000-7,000 for each family member.
Caribbean passports allow to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within the six months and in the UK for up to 180 days during the year. They also make it possible to simplify the application for United States visas.
Moreover, citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Grenada, or Dominica can also optimize taxes, conduct international business, register property,and open accounts with international banks.
The Grenada program was ranked fourth among international programs qualified to obtain an E-2 business visa for the United States.
Saint Kitts and Nevis programs are the most famous – it has been offering services since 1984. It ranked fifths due to its popularity in the market.
The Antigua and Barbuda program got the last rank among the Caribbean programs due to one condition. Participants need to stay in the country for 5 days during the first 5 years of citizenship. This is not convenient for many clients.
In the Caribbean and Vanuatu, the official language is English and this fact is a significant advantage for the investors. If you would like to visit the country of your second citizenship, it will be easier for you to understand residents or discuss matters with officials.
Comparison of the Citizenship by Investment Programs in the Caribbean and Vanuatu
|Antigua and Barbuda|| $ 100 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
$ 200 000 — real estate;
$ 1 500 000— business;
$ 150 000 — donation to the University of the West Indies Foundation (for a family of 6)
|Saint Kitts and Nevis|| $150 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
$ 200 000 — real estate;
|Saint Lucia|| $ 100 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
$ 300 000 — real estate;
$ 250 000 — government bonds;
$ 3 500 000 — approved business project;
|Grenada|| $ 150 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
$ 220 000 — real estate;
|Dominica|| $ 100 000 — non-refundable contribution; |
$ 200 000 — real estate;
|Vanuatu||$ 130 000 — non-refundable contribution;||1—2 months|
Most popular investment programs
Malta and Cyprus programs are the most popular among our clients. They require significant investment but open up great opportunities. Investors with a passport of Malta or Cyprus can freely live, study and work in any country of the European Union, and conduct international business.
Vanuatu is ranked third due to the speed and ease of obtaining a passport, as well as low participation costs. Only this program showed an increase in income during the 2020 crisis and in thus confirming its competitiveness.
Grenada leads the Caribbean area for offering the ability to live in the United States on an E-2 visa. The Antigua and Barbuda program requires a visit to the country and this condition predetermined its penultimate place in the ranking.
The passport of Vanuatu or other Caribbean countries will grant visa-free travel to Europe, but you will still be a guest in the EU.
Montenegro attracts investors with more potential opportunities than real opportunities today. As a travel document, the Montenegrin passport is comparable to the ones of the Caribbean countries and Vanuatu, but it costs twice as much. Therefore, the demand for Montenegro is minimal.
When comparing citizenship by investment programs, not only the amount of investment and the return period is important. It is also worth considering the quality of life in the country, visa-free access to other countries, requirements for investors, and details on the residence in the country.
Immigrant Invest will help you understand all the nuances of immigration programs and will offer the most favorable option for you.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.