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.
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|
|Investor and spouse||$150,000|
| Family of three |
(applicant, spouse and a minor child)
| Family of four |
(married couple and two minor children)
The price above includes additional government fees and charges.
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
- capital gains
- export of capital
- Profit on the stock exchange
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%|
|Capital gains tax||No|
|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)
- Faroe Islands
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- San Marino
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.
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|
|Currency||Vanuatu Vatu (VUV)|
| Time zone VUT |
|(UTC + 11)|
|Traffic||On the right hand side of the road|
|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.
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
|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.
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.
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
- Citizenship Act (Cap. 112)
- Citizenship (Development Support Program) Regulations, Order No. 33 of 2019
- Citizenship (Contribution Program) (Amendment), Order No. 34 of 2019
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.