Vanuatu Citizenship: Detailed Guide to Citizenship by Investment

Vanuatu citizenship: how to get a Vanuatu passport by investment - Immigrant Invest
Vanuatu citizenship: how to get a Vanuatu passport by investment - Immigrant Invest

Vanuatu is the only country in Oceania where citizenship is granted by investment in a state fund. The first offers of citizenship by investment appeared here in the 1990s. More recently, the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Program (VERP), for example, was created to rebuild the areas destroyed when Hurricane Pam struck in March 2015.

There are two citizenship programs currently in operation: the Vanuatu Contribution Program (VCP) and Vanuatu Development Support Program (VDSP), which is also known as the Vanuatu Citizenship Development Support Program. It offers the fastest way to obtain citizenship in exchange for a non-refundable donation of at least $130,000 to the local government fund. The amount of the contribution depends on the number of family members included in the application for citizenship by investment.

The two programs are targeted at different markets. VCP is specially designed for residents from the Far East, including China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. The program is distributed in mainland China through a network of agents. VDSP is designed for residents of Europe, America and Africa.

Until 2019, VCP was offered at a much higher price than VDSP, although both programs offered applicants for citizenship the same rights. In April 2019, the cost of VCP was reduced to practically the same price as VDSP. However, it is not clear how long Vanuatu’s government plans to continue supporting two practically identical programs.

In this article, we explain in detail how to obtain Vanuatu citizenship by investment in VDSP.

Benefits

Quick processing time of citizenship application. Vanuatu is the only country that processes applications for citizenship by investment in 8 weeks. For comparison, the citizenship procedure in a Caribbean country lasts at least three months.

Visa-free travel. A Vanuatu passport allows the holder to travel visa-free to 125 countries, including the United Kingdom, the EU, Hong Kong and Singapore. A Vanuatu passport holder can spend 180 days a year in the UK or 90 days in every six month period in Schengen countries. A Vanuatu passport also gives access to long-term visas to the United States, Australia and Canada.

Attractive tax terms. Vanuatu has no taxes on worldwide income, dividends, wealth or inheritance. Vanuatu citizenship also allows an investor to easily open accounts at European banks.

No requirements to stay in Vanuatu. The applicant does not need to visit the island in order to obtain citizenship. Most Caribbean countries also do not have residency requirements for investors, apart from the Antigua and Barbuda program, where the applicant needs to spend at least 5 days in 5 years in the country.

The Vanuatu Citizenship by investment program offers a second passport with visa-free travel to 125 countries, including the UK, EU, Hong Kong and Singapore. The citizenship process can be completed within 2 month without the applicant visiting the country.

Cost of Vanuatu citizenship

The price depends on the number of applicants. We have given a breakdown of the costs in the table.

Number of applicants Cost
One applicant $130,000
Investor and spouse $150,000
Family of three
(applicant, spouse and a minor child)
$165,000
Family of four
(married couple and two minor children)
$180,000

The price above includes additional government fees and charges.

Requirements for the applicant

Vanuatu accepts applications from applicants over 18 years of age with proof of funds of at least $250,000 (or the equivalent) in their bank accounts.

Vanuatu does not accept applications from persons with a criminal record of serious crimes or those against whom a criminal case has been opened in any country. It also rules out those included on a national or international list of wanted persons.

The applicant also needs to provide a medical certificate. An application for citizenship may be rejected if a person is seriously ill.

Due Diligence у Вануату усилен
Time required: 1 month
Investment: $130,000

The following family members can apply for citizenship together with the investor:

- spouse;
- children under 18 years of age (children of the applicant and their spouse or adopted children);
- the investor's unmarried children aged 18 to 25 years, as long as they can prove that they are financially dependent on the applicant. This can be done, for example, by a certificate showing that they are students and bank account statements (proof of funds) showing that the applicant has been paying for their studies. The contribution for each child is $15,000;
- parents over 50 years old, as long as they can prove that they are financially dependent on the applicant. The contribution for each parent is $15,000.

Obtaining a passport

Applicants for a Vanuatu passport go through six stages in order to obtain a second citizenship.

Signing an agreement

Preliminary check by Immigrant Invest
Time required: 1 day

We specialize in citizenship by investment programs and know how to help a client avoid risks when submitting documents. In order to do this, we conduct preliminary due diligence checks on prospective applicants. We give a legal opinion and assess their chances of successfully participating in the program. If we see potential difficulties arising in their application, we propose ways of addressing them and reducing the chances of our clients being refused Vanuatu citizenship.
Проверка заявителя Due Diligence
Signing an agreement
Time required: 1 day

The applicant can conclude an agreement with our company in our office or remotely. We will, however, need to receive passport copies of any family members participating in the program.

Costs. No costs are incurred at this stage.
Подписание договоров с заявителем
Preliminary check by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Vanuatu
Time required: up to 7 days (in practice 2–3 days)

The FIU of Vanuatu checks the reliability of the investor and determines whether the application can proceed or not. The check costs $2,000. In the event that the application is rejected, this amount will not be returned. All payments go through an authorized agent, i.e., through our company, Immigrant Invest. The FIU issues an opinion based on the results of the check.

Documents that are required at this stage:

  • passport: notarized color scan of passport
  • certificate of no criminal record from the applicant's country of citizenship and from those countries where they have lived for more than one year in the past 10 years
Costs. When submitting documents for verification, the applicant makes a non-refundable payment of $2,000.
Проверка Финансового департамента Вануату
Preparation and submission of documents
Time required: 1 week

Our company helps the applicant collect and correctly prepare the complete package of documents. The exact list of documents varies in each case. As a rule, the standard package includes the following documents:

  • birth certificates of the applicant, spouse and children
  • medical examination certificates for applicants over 18 years of age
  • driver's license
  • certificate of marriage or divorce,
  • certificates of change of surname
  • national and foreign passports
  • receipts (proof of funds) from the university showing regular payments for the education of dependent children; they serve as evidence of the dependence of adult children on their parents
  • documents confirming the legality of the applicant’s income. For example, a certificate from the place of work or an employment contract for employees. A license, company registration documents, or a financial report are also acceptable.
  • bank statement for the past 6 months showing $250,000 in assets
  • 6 photographs (40 mm × 50 mm) for each family member included in the application.
All copies of documents must be certified for an apostille and translated into English.

Our lawyers prepare a package of documents according to the requirements of the program. We know the points that the Government of Vanuatu monitors closely and we deal with any ambiguities or complications that arise. Based on the applicant’s documents, our lawyers then fill out the government forms and send them to the applicant for signature. This can be done in our office or remotely.

By law, only accredited agents can apply to the Vanuatu Financial Intelligence Unit. Our company complies with all laws applicable in Vanuatu and has the required permits.

Costs. At this stage, the applicant contributes 25% of the total amount of payments stipulated in the program.
Подготовка и подача докусентов на гражданство
Processing of documents at the Vanuatu Citizenship Agency and approval
Time required: 2–3 weeks

The Citizenship Commission examines the investor's package of documents. Meetings are held twice a month. The Commission makes a decision on granting citizenship based on the following points:

  • result of the due diligence
  • submitted package of documents
  • confirmation of the money transfer to the government's account
Within two weeks after the meeting, our company receives a written notification of the decision. If the investor is approved, they need to deposit the remaining 75% of the amount within 5 days. However, the Government of Vanuatu can extend the deadline for the transfer to 90 days after approval.

Immigrant Invest has helped and guided dozens of clients obtain citizenship under the Vanuatu program. The knowledge of our lawyers helps clients prepare documents correctly and accelerate the process of receiving citizenship by investment.

If the applicant does not transfer funds within 90 days, the Government of Vanuatu will revoke their approval of granting citizenship and will not refund the funds received earlier.
vanuatu-citizenship-by-investment-294314881-step-5
Taking the oath of allegiance and obtaining a passport
Time required: 1 day

According to the rules of the program, the applicant does not receive Vanuatu citizenship until they take the oath of allegiance.

The applicant can choose the country in which they want to take the oath:

  • in Vanuatu before the Commissioner for Oaths
  • in any country of the applicant’s choice
In the latter case, the investor invites the Commissioner for Oaths and Vanuatu’s imimigration officer to the Vanuatu consulate located closest to their selected location or to another convenient building and pays costs of at least $10,000, depending on the location selected. The swearing-in ceremony takes about 30 minutes.

After the oath, the Commissioner issues a certificate of naturalization and a Vanuatu passport to the applicant.

In Russia, for example, the Vanuatu office is located in the Australian Consulate. However, the swearing-in can take place in any convenient building: for example in the applicant’s office or in a hotel lobby.
Получение паспорта Вануату за инвестиции

Honorary Citizenship of Vanuatu

In April 2019, the Vanuatu government issued an order to remove the designation honorary citizenship from the naturalization certificate. This was done due to the fact that the distinction could be used to differentiate between those who became citizens by investment and natural-born citizens, as the honorary status does not allow holders to hold positions in government or participate in politics. This was the only feature distinguishing honorary citizenship of Vanuatu from ordinary citizenship of the country.

It still remains unclear whether citizens by investment will be given the right to vote, as the Vanuatu government has yet to issue an official statement on this subject. In the Caribbean, for example, citizens by investment are allowed to vote as long as they live in the country. Whether the same practice will be introduced in Vanuatu remains to be seen.

For detailed advice on obtaining Vanuatu citizenship please contact our company, Immigrant Invest.

Vanuatu’s tax system

Vanuatu has an attractive tax system. Tax rates on the island are the same for residents and non-residents. There is a 0% tax rate on

  • income
  • wealth
  • inheritance
  • capital gains
  • corporations
  • export of capital
  • Profit on the stock exchange

Company taxation

The state’s tax system was designed taking foreign investors into consideration, as 15% of Vanuatu’s GDP is made up of income earned by international companies. The government is interested in creating a favorable legal and business environment.

International Business Companies (IBCs) registered in Vanuatu are exempt from tax for 20 years. They only pay an annual fee of $300, which is due by June 30.

Taxation in Vanuatu

Corporate income tax 0%
Personal income tax (PIT) 0%
VAT 12,5%
Capital gains tax No
Withholding tax No
Other taxes None
Foreign exchange control None
Government duty/Stamp duty 300-1 000 $

There is 0% corporate and income tax charge for investors who buy a ready-made company on the island.

The owners of companies must control the movement of capital, monitor foreign exchange currency transactions and maintain company accounts. However, there is no requirement to file reports with government agencies or audit the company accounts.

Vanuatu restricts access to the financial information of companies registered in Vanuatu, as well as to business and personal information on the owners and beneficiaries. The information is confidential under all circumstances, apart from cases when the company is involved in money laundering, fraud or terrorism.

Countries with which Vanuatu has tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs)

  • Australia
  • Denmark
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Republic of Korea
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Sweden

Information for registration of a company in Vanuatu

Legal system A mixed system combining English, French and Vanuatu laws
Acquisition of shelf companies Allowed
Use of Cyrillic alphabet in the name Allowed
Information required to be kept in the registered office Accounts, records, minutes of meetings, copies of resolutions, registers of directors and shareholders

Taxes on real estate transactions

The renter or buyer of a property must pay a stamp fee of 5% and a registration fee of 2% of the transaction amount.

Popularity of the program

Since 2017, the Department of Vanuatu Immigration and Passport Services has issued more than 4,000 passports by investment. The Government of Vanuatu’s income from citizenship by investment programs is growing every year. At the end of 2018, the country received $88 mln or 33% of its income from VCP and VDSP programs. During the same period, only two countries received a larger percentage of income from citizenship by investment programs: St Kitts and Nevis (48%) and Dominica (52%). According to Vanuatu’s Department of Finance and Treasury, foreign investors contributed $46 million through citizenship by investment programs. This was $14 million more than the amount contributed in the whole of 2017.

Interesting facts

Vanuatu is located in the South Pacific archipelago, to the north-east of Australia. The country consists of 83 islands, 65 of which are inhabited. The length of the territory from north to south is 1300 km. The country gained independence in 1980 and its name was changed from New Hebrides to the Republic of Vanuatu.

Capital and largest city Port Vila
Official languages Bislama, French, English
Population 290 000
Currency Vanuatu Vatu (VUV)
Time zone VUT
(Vanuatu time)
(UTC + 11)
Traffic On the right hand side of the road
Telephone code +678
Close relations with Australia, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea
Difficult relations with Burma, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria

Tourism accounts for 20% of Vanuatu’s GDP. In addition to tourism, the country is developing its agriculture and animal husbandry sectors. For the past 10 years, Vanuatu has been ranked among the happiest places on the planet. There are no sources of pollution in the country, and therefore the water and air remain clean. Also, the crime rate in Vanuatu is low.

State structure. The Republic of Vanuatu is a parliamentary democracy with elections every four years. The parliament of Vanuatu is unicameral and has 52 members. The leader of the main party in parliament is selected as the prime minister and heads the government. The head of state, the president, is elected every five years by parliament and by the presidents of six provincial governments.

Languages. Vanuatu has three official languages: English, French and Bislama (English-based creole). The latter helps citizens who have studied English or French since childhood to communicate through a common language. Bislama is spoken by 200,000 local citizens. The name of the local currency, vatu, means “stone” in Bislama.

Ethnicity of residents. The vast majority of the population (98.5%) is made up of Melanesians, with Europeans, Asians and Pacific Islanders making up the remaining 1.5%. Most of the locals live in the countryside.

95% of Vanuatu’s residents are Christians. The remaining 5% believe in the Cargo cult that originated on the islands during the Second World War.

Sport. Rugby and cricket are popular in Vanuatu.

Climate. Vanuatu has a tropical climate. For nine months a year, the weather is warm and humid, and for the other three to four months the weather is colder and drier. The average daily temperature is 20–32 C.

Volcanoes. There are nine active volcanoes in Vanuatu. The active volcano Yasur on Tanna Island is the most accessible volcano for tourists. It is located 361 meters above sea level and its crater is 400 meters in diameter. Yasur last erupted in 2008.

Ecology. Vanuatu is part of the Australian ecozone, which also includes New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand. Vanuatu does not have any large mammals, venomous snakes or spiders. There are 19 species of reptiles, 11 species of bats and 61 species of birds on the islands. The region is rich in marine life. The coastal areas are home to 4,000 species of sea molluscs.

Vanuatu’s Attractions

Underwater post office. Vanuatu is home to the world’s only underwater post office. The post office is located near the capital. To send a letter, you need a special waterproof envelope.

Monument to a Russian traveler. In the capital of the country, Port Vila, there is a monument to the Russian navigator Vasily Golovnin.

Sunken liner. The location of the SS President Coolidge, which sank in 1942 with over 5,000 troops onboard, is a favorite place for divers. Only two persons were killed in the accident, as the troops managed to swim ashore thanks to the captain, who tried to run the ship aground and immediately ordered the troops to abandon ship. Divers today are drawn to the military trucks, jeeps and cannons that sank with the ship.

Cost of living in Vanuatu

The cost of living in Vanuatu is higher than the global average. For example, a family of two spends $887 per month on food and travel, excluding rent for housing. The monthly salary in Vanuatu is around $900.

Prices in shops

Products Price
Bottle of water, 0.33 l 1,4 $
Milk, 1 l 1,8 $
Loaf of fresh white bread, 0.5 kg 2,6 $
White rice, 1 kg 16,9 $
Local cheese, 1 kg 16,9 $
Eggs, pack of 12 4 $
Chicken breast fillets boneless and skinless, 1kg 17,3 $
Tomatoes, 1 kg 10 $
Potatoes, 1 kg 2,4 $
Oranges, 1 kg 7 $
Bananas, 1 kg 6,9 $
Apples, 1 кg 6 $
Beef tenderloin, red meat, 1 kg 8 $
Bottle of wine, average price 13 $
Packet of cigarettes 7,3 $

Prices in cafes and restaurants

Type of restaurant Price
Lunch in an inexpensive restaurant for one person 8,5 $
A three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant 53 $
Lunch for one at McDonalds or another fast food chain 6 $

A meal for two persons in an inexpensive restaurant costs $17, two tickets to the cinema also cost $17, two bus tickets cost $2.5, and a liter of petrol costs $1.5.

Rental costs in Vanuatu

Type of housing Price/month
1 bedroom flat in the center 780 $
1 bedroom flat outside the city center 650 $
3 bedroom flat in the city center 1 600 $
3 bedroom flat outside the city center 1 125 $

Utilities cost $130–185/month for a couple, depending on the size of the flat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, he can. The fee for adding a spouse is $42,000. For adding children or parents the fee is $15,000. There is no need to take an oath of allegiance.

If an investor obtained citizenship not with the assistance of Immigrant Invest, he needs a certificate of naturalization and birth certificates to add family members.

Learn more about adding of family members

The Vanuatu passport passes on to the main applicant’s children. The cost of document application is $15,000 for a child.

The necessary documents include:

  • The main applicant’s certificate of naturalization
  • A birth certificate confirming the family connection

The procedure is identical to submission of a new application. If children are over 18 years old, the Vanuatu Financial Department will conduct Due Diligence.

Learn more about citizenship heirdom

A child is a dependant if the main applicant provides food and money, pays for the child’s studies. If a child earns his own money or gets married, he cannot be considered as a dependant. Learn who can get Vanuatu citizenship

A parent is a dependant if the main applicant provides food, assures safety and care. If a parent has a job, he cannot qualify for Vanuatu citizenship with the investor.

Yes, grandparents can also become dependants and apply for citizenship. Learn who can get Vanuatu citizenship

In April of 2019 the Vanuatu government amended documents regulation the citizenship obtaining procedure. The purpose of amendments was to bring the rules for obtaining passports to uniform global standards.

An application for Vanuatu citizenship might be rejected, if the investor:

  • Provided false information
  • Could not confirm the source of income
  • Has a criminal record in any country of the world
  • Applied fake or invalid documents.

The Vanuatu passport is valid for 10 years. There is no need to fly to the island to renew the passport. A renewed document will be delivered by a Vanuatu Consulate or a licensed agent. It’s better to start the renewal procedure 6 months before the passport expiration date.

No, there is no exam required for investors under the immigration program.

No, he does not.

No, he does not.

No, it does not. The procedure of citizenship obtaining is confidential in Vanuatu. The information about passport issuance is not disclosed to any third parties.

All the program participants must have their fingerprints and photos taken.

No, such an option is not provided.

It depends on body of the offence. If an investor has committed a serious criminal offense or evaded taxes, he will be denied citizenship.

The investor can get a driver's license which will be ready in half an hour when presenting an international license. The investor can also get a tax ID for starting a business and a utility bill address.

Yes, citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and North Korea cannot obtain citizenship.

Yes, an investor needs a proof of employment or confirmation of a business run by the investor.

Yes, but an investor needs to prove a connection between the sponsor and the main applicant. In this case the sponsor will not be liable to pass Due Diligence.

He won’t pass Due Diligence.

Yes, he can. It does not affect the application for citizenship. But the investor will have to explain the reason for the refusal of entry.

No, he does not. Applicants for the second passport do not have to live in the country either before, during or after obtaining citizenship.

Yes, it is required.

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