Detached private villas with their own gardens, marinas and golf courses have always attracted the interest of wealthy foreigners. The cost of such facilities starts at 2 million dollars, and today they cannot be purchased as part of citizenship programs of Caribbean countries. The new option will provide this opportunity.
The terms of the option will encourage wealthy people to invest more money in St Kitts and Nevis property. This is how the government hopes to attract investment in the country's economy and compensate for losses due to the pandemic.
The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris, also believes the changes will help develop the luxury real estate market and increase construction on the islands.
St Kitts and Nevis was the first Caribbean country to launch a citizenship programme for investment in 1984. Since then, the terms of the programme have been continuously improved. Other Caribbean countries rely heavily on the experience of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It is likely that a similar property purchase option will eventually appear in other Caribbean citizenship programmes.
How much and in what kind of real estate can be invested under the programme in 2020
According to the St Kitts and Nevis Programme Department, in 2020 the property option is very popular with investors. Under the current conditions, investors acquire shares, apartments and villas in 5-star hotels and resort complexes. All projects are approved by the government for participation in the programme.
In 2020, the minimum transaction amount under the option with a deposit in real estate is $200,000. This is the value of the share in an approved hotel or complex. The cost of apartments under the program is on average from $300,000 to $400,000. A one-bedroom villa will cost from $400,000, and the cost of a 3-bedroom cottage starts from $1 million.
It is possible to sell a share in a project or property in 5 or 7 years.
What will happen to the real estate purchase license
Under the laws of St Kitts and Nevis, if a foreigner wants to buy property in the country, a special licence must be purchased. Its value is 10% of the amount under the contract of sale.
Citizenship programme participants do not need to buy a licence for facilities that are approved by the government. However, they will not approve real estate under the new option. This means that when buying a villa for $2 million, the investor will have to buy a license for $200,000. In this case, the cost of one license is comparable to buying a share in an approved property.
Prime Minister Timothy Harris did not specify how the government is going to resolve the issue of a licence to buy real estate under the new option. But there is a possibility that the license will be cancelled for cases when a foreigner buys real estate to participate in the citizenship programme. Otherwise, the demand for the new option may be minimal.
What other changes are planned from 2021?
Prime Minister Timothy Harris said that in the next 3 years the government plans to improve the citizenship programme in several areas.
New programme options. St Kitts and Nevis can go beyond the option to purchase residential properties. Options may appear with the purchase of government bonds or contribution to the business. In 2020, such options are already available under the citizenship programmes of St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda.
Review of the terms and conditions of existing options. The Government of St Kitts and Nevis can increase control over real estate investments, but how - is not yet specified. The Department will also review the terms of the option with a non-refundable contribution to the state Sustainable Development Fund. This is the second investment option under which foreigners can obtain citizenship in 2020.
The minimum contribution amount under current conditions is $150,000. A revision of the contribution option is necessary to balance the inflow of investments into the programme. We shared the plans of the programme department in the Forbes material "Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis: an interview with the programme manager Les Khan".
Strengthened Due Diligence procedures. Technologies for fingerprint scanning is one of the possible changes. If the government introduces it, the programme participants will take their fingerprints before submitting the application. The Department will use them when checking due diligence on an investor. This will provide 100% assurance of the authenticity of the applicant's identity and documents.
What has changed in the programme in 2020
In 2020, St Kitts and Nevis took steps to make the citizenship programme more attractive and competitive in the face of a pandemic. The changes are intended for investors who plan to obtain a second passport together with their family members.
Contribution for families with four people. In July 2020, the Government reduced the non-refundable contribution. If an investor is involved in a programme with three relatives, for example, a spouse and two children, a contribution of 150,000 USD is required. Previously, the contribution for such a family was 195,000 USD.
The benefit is valid until 15 January 2021. We talked about a change in the material "St Kitts and Nevis: the amount of the subsidy to the state fund for families has been reduced to 4 people".
New conditions for family members to participate. In November 2020, St Kitts and Nevis allowed investors to include siblings in their applications. At the same time, the investor must pay a joining fee. The amount of the fee depends on the investment option.
Contribution for the accession of siblings
|Investment option||Contribution amount|
|Non-refundable contribution to the Sustainable Growth Fund||20 000 $|
|Investments in real estate||40 000 $|
We talked about the new conditions in the material "St Kitts and Nevis has added brothers and sisters to the list of those who can obtain citizenship for investment".
Revenues from the Citizenship Programme are supporting the economy of St Kitts and Nevis during the crisis. The country's government also uses this money to implement social projects, pay benefits to poor citizens, sponsor professional retraining of local residents and purchase medical equipment.