Today we are publishing our rankings on citizenship by investment programs for a second year in a row.

Our PBS (points based scoring) model, which we designed last year, is one of a kind in the industry, ranks Best CBI program taking into account 37 important factors looking upon clients before deciding on their favorite investment citizenship program. This year we have integrated important indicators such as consulate assistance, covid discount, post citizenship additions and being family friendly etc

Covid had made a great impact causing a great shift in CBI rankings for this year, since our rankings last year. Interest has soared for passport programs that exempt personal visits, due to Covid lockdowns and worldwide travel shutdowns.

St Lucia has taken No.1 spot in Best CBI rankings for 2021.  Dominica in second place, followed by Grenada in third spot.  All in all caribbean countries dominate the top spots.

Caribbean countries have captured top spots due to the significant changes they made to their programs . For example switching to digital processing of applications, covid discounts and becoming family friendly to overcome Covid.

It comes as no surprise considering Caribbean is the birthplace of citizenship by investment. All these countries have made significant legislative changes to CIP during the aftermath of Covid it simple, easy, affordable and attractive for passport investors while strengthening vetting standards.

CBI Programs that require personal visit or trips have fallen in rankings this year as Covid has made it impossible to travel for investors..

In recent years St Lucia has emerged as globally respected CIP in the world. From the bottom of table last year, St Lucia has made a huge leap capturing first place this year. This is due to the fact the government has made huge improvements to CIP making it one of the best flagship CIP products in the world. The Government made great strides in improving governance, due diligence, transparency, cutting costs, introducing Covid bonds, digital processing of application and first to introduce e-payment option spearheading innovations towards a digital future in the form of virtual citizenship.

Vanuatu has improved its position from bottom to fourth place tied with St Kitts.  In 2020, Vanuatu has made great improvements to the DSP and VCP schemes by processing applications faster than any country in the world and increasing passport validity to ten years.

St Kitts, Dominica and Vanuatu have made great strides becoming a hugely popular programs for speed and processing times. Vanuatu still remains the fastest CIP in the world. Cyprus and Moldova have been removed from the rankings as these programs remain suspended as of today.

Results

Best CBI Rankings 2021

RankCBIPBS score
1Saint Lucia252
2Dominica250
3Grenada248
4St Kitts and Nevis235
4Vanuatu235
5Antigua and Barbuda234
6Bulgaria208
7Malta202
8Turkey196
9Montenegro193
10Samoa164
10Egypt164
11Jordan156

Ranking factors

We have considered these 37 important factors into our PBS scoring model. Each ranking factor is assigned 10 points making it a total of 370 points.

  • Pricing
  • Popularity
  • Easy Application process
  • Govt bonds
  • Safety score (low crime)
  • Visa free to Big 6 – EU schengen, UK, USA, Canada, Russia, China (70 points)
  • Wealth (GDP per capita)
  • Passport time (months)
  • Processing speed (days)
  • Residence requirement
  • Voting rights
  • EU citizenship
  • E-2 treaty with US
  • Education Rank
  • Healthcare Rank
  • HDI Rank (Human development)
  • Privacy – Publish CBI names
  • Tax free advantages
  • Due Diligence and Vetting
  • CBI Transparency
  • Passport Validity
  • Personal visit exemption
  • Lifetime Citizenship
  • Covid discount
  • Post citizenship additions
  • Family friendly (siblings, grandparents etc)
  • Real estate prices
  • CBI e-platform
  • Stateless people
  • Consulates abroad
  • Limited Quotas

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Video

Ranking factors

We explain our ranking criteria in great detail

1. Pricing

The pricing is the most important criteria for many clients. The cheaper the program more points are assigned by our model. St Lucia, Dominica still remain the cheapest CBI programs for one person starting at $100,000.

Antigua remains cheapest for families with 4 dependants or more.. Malta’s direct investment program remains the most expensive EU citizenship by investment program in the world after Cypriot scheme has been suspended in Nov.

CBIPricing
Montenegro350,000 € (real estate + donation)
Malta750,000 € (donation)
St Kitts and Nevis150,000 $ (donation)
200,000 $ (real estate)
Antigua and Barbuda100,000 $ (donation)
200,000 $ (real estate)
Grenada150,000 $ (donation)
200,000 $ (real estate)
Dominica100,000 $ (donation)
200,000 $ (real estate)
Saint Lucia100,000 $ (donation)
300,000 $ (real estate)
$250,000 (covid bonds)
$500,000 (Govt bonds)
Vanuatu130,000 $ (donation)
Turkey250,000 $ (real estate)
500,000 $ (bonds / investment/ cash deposit)
Bulgaria1,000,000 € (bonds)
Samoa1,200,000 $ (business)
Jordan1,000,000 $ (bonds)
Egypt250,000 $ (donation)

2. Popularity

The popularity of the programs are based on inquiries received from clients, applications received, revenues collected and passports issued. St Kitts and Dominica have been around for more than 25 years gaining massive publicity, still remains all time favorites. Vanuatu in recent years have emerged as the most popular program in 2020 for its speed and simple application process.

  • St Kitts
  • Dominica
  • Vanuatu

3. Government Bonds

Govt bonds offer an exciting investment option to fully recover the investment. These are risk free investments (basically buying govt debt) guaranteed by governments. The interest from buying zero coupon bonds goes to government towards

These are the only countries that offer bonds for citizenship by investment

  • Saint Lucia – Covid relief bonds (USD 250,000) and USD 500,000
  • Bulgaria – 1m euro (Bulgarian govt bonds)
  • Turkey – USD 500,000 (treasury securities and bonds)
  • Jordan – USD 1 million (treasury securities)

We see this as an important investment option, especially during covid times and clients dont want to risk lose their investment  when travel, tourism and real estate sectories are facing a decline due to pandemic.

4. Safety / Low crime

The safety is based on low crime rate. St Kitts has made significant progress with crime rate from what has been couple of years ago. The less the crime rate, makes the country more safe and thus more points.

Considering many CBI citizens do not move or live in the country, this factor may seem impractical. What if a your situation changes? Nonetheless we felt this is important and safety is priceless and cannot be ignored at all.

5. Visa free countries

The passport power based on visa free travel is also a very important decision factor for many clients. It is also important selling factor for many agents. A number of CBI countries have been expanding visa waiver agreements with new countries.

CBIVisa free
Malta184
Bulgaria171
St Kitts and Nevis156
Antigua and Barbuda151
Saint Lucia146
Grenada144
Dominica141
Vanuatu130
Samoa130
Montenegro124
Turkey111
Jordan51
Egypt49

Source: Wiki / Henley

We receive a number of inquiries asking about visa free access to US, Canada and other countries. We see that visa free travel to BIG-6 countries (eVisa, Visa on arrival, eTA etc) is equally important for passport investors. Imagine with one powerful second passport, you could visit all the 196 countries in the world.

Here are some of the tips we give you

  • Only Malta, Bulgaria has visa waiver ETA with Canada. No Caribbean country has visa free access to Canada and United States
  • Only Malta has visa waiver program with the United States.
  • Montenegro has no visa waiver program with United Kingdom.
  • Turkey is a candidate country but citizens does not have schengen access.
  • Only Grenada has visa waiver signed with China.

The strength of a passport to visit many countries without visas, especially to most important six BIG countries in the world is equally important. We have assigned 10 points for each country giving this perk.

Visa FreeUnited StatesUnited KingdomRussiaChinaSchengenCanada
Maltaˣˣ
Bulgariaˣˣˣ
Grenadaˣˣ
Antiguaˣˣˣ
Saint Kittsˣˣˣ
Saint Luciaˣˣˣˣ
Dominicaˣˣˣ
Vanuatuˣˣˣ
Montenegroˣˣˣˣ
Turkeyˣˣˣˣˣˣ
Samoaˣˣ

6. Wealth (GDP per capita)

Wealth of a country in terms of per capita income is also important to attract more investments. We assigned scores to wealth of a country. From the CBI perspective, St Kitts is the richest country in the Caribbean, similarly Malta in Europe.

7. CBI Passport time

The amount of time take from filing application to receiving passport in hand. This is also the frequent question asked by clients. Vanuatu is well known for speed and processing times. It is also the fastest citizenship by investment program in the world.

Take a look at the passport times

  • Vanuatu – 30 days
  • Caribbean – 90 to 120 days
  • Montenegro – 90 days
  • Turkey – 100 days
  • Malta – 12 months
  • Bulgaria – 24 months
  • Samoa – 12 months

8. Processing speed (days)

This represents the average processing time by CIU units, from the time of launching an application to issuing of citizenship certificate.  St Lucia has greatly reduced its average processing times from 80 days to 56 days for no additional fee. St Kitts also has accelerated application process and decisions are taken within 60 days (for an additional fee).

Vanuatu still remains unbeatable when it costs to processing of applications.

  • Vanuatu – 20 days
  • St Lucia – 56 days
  • Grenada – 90 days
  • Dominica – 90 days
  • Antigua – 90 days
  • Montenegro – 90 days
  • Jordan – 10 to 20 days
  • Samoa – 30 days

9. Residence conditions

The physical residence conditions sets tone for popularity of CBI programs. Many clients who apply for passports dont want to visit or live in the country away from home and business. Especially do not want to travel far away during covid time wanting to remain safe.

As a result, we imposed reduced points on CBI programs that require residence conditions. Those CIPs that have zero residence condition remain the most attractive for citizenship investors.

CBIResidence conditions
Montenegroˣ
Malta12 months
St Kitts and Nevisˣ
Antigua and Barbudaˣ
Grenadaˣ
Dominicaˣ
Saint Luciaˣ
Vanuatuˣ
Turkeyˣ
Bulgaria12 months
Samoa15 days
Jordanˣ
Egyptˣ

10. Right to Vote

The Right to vote is an important democratic right of a citizen. Full citizenship rights come with entering politics and working for the government.

In ancient rome, citizenship was the path to power engage in politics. Some schemes are not complete CBI programs, denying these rights. We have assigned reduced scores to countries with CBI legislation that simply deny these rights

 

CBIVoting
Montenegro
Malta
St Kitts and Nevisˣ
Antigua and Barbudaˣ
Grenada
Dominicaˣ
Saint Lucia
Vanuatuˣ
Turkey
Bulgaria
Samoa
Jordan
Egypt

11. EU citizenship

Becoming an EU citizen is everybody’s dream. It does not come easy and takes a lot of hard work. Only Malta, Bulgaria confer full EU citizenship rights for investment. These are the only two active citizenship by investment schemes in European Union.

EU citizenship is in great demand due to Brexit and decline in US passport power driving many high profile persons to invest in a second passport for Plan B. Pandemic passports have become new safe haven investments offering a safety for families.

Montenegro is not EU member state (remains in Europe) and a strong candidate country to EU by 2025

12. E-2 treaty with US

The E-2 visa benefit should not be ignored by prospective investors who have business interests in the US.

E-2 visas are cheaper, faster and best alternative to EB-5 green card program. The basic difference is E-2 visas are issued for 2 years for business investment in the US (about $100K), costs about $250 visa fee and processing time is just 3 weeks.

The problem is E-2 visas are available only for treaty countries. If you dont come from a country that dont have E-2 treaty with US then your only option is seek citizenship in treaty country that has active CBI (eg. Grenada, Turkey)

These are the only 5 CBI countries that have E-2 treaty with United States

  • Grenada
  • Turkey
  • Montenegro
  • Jordan
  • Egypt

13. Education Rank

The scores were assigned based on education system and learning.

UK, Europe, Canada, US and Australia have the most famous universities in the world. The Caribbean has also very good universities  and have produce great leaders and Nobel winners.

Grenada has world famous St George medical university while Antigua has a new University of West Indies campus. The Government has launched UWI fund as CIP option to raise revenues for the benefit of education.

14. Healthcare Rank

Healthcare systems cannot be ignored in citizenship rankings during this desperate times of worldwide pandemic. We have assigned scores based on WHO health care rankings

15. HDI Rank

The High Human development is essential for happy and stress free living. In this chaotic modern world, it is a must to live and work along side of nature. New technologies also have side effects no one talks about.  Relentless smartphones and social media only develop anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation. Only spending relaxing time with nature is the cure for these ailments.

Vanuatu is famous for being fourth happiest country in the world.

The higher the HDI rank increased points were assigned to our PBS scoring model.

16. Privacy – Publish CBI names

Few countries publish names of CBI citizens who have made investments. Wealthy citizenship investors fear for their privacy and dont want their names to be available public.

Malta and Dominica publish names of CBI citizens to public in Government gazette.  We value privacy as a result these countries get zero scores, while all other countries get maximum 10 points.

17. Tax free

The tax free benefits available to citizenship investors are taken into consideration. Taxes are based on residency not on citizenship. The more the tax free benefits, more the points

St Kitts and Antigua do not have personal income income taxes on local and foreign income. Vanuatu has zero corporate taxes. Many caribbean countries do not have wealth taxes. Also no capital gain or inheritance taxes.

18. Due Diligence

Due diligence is at the heart of citizenship by investment . It is these strict vetting checks that keeps the CBI industry intact from disintegrating. It is an important indicator for the reputation of the CBI schemes. Governments employ third party due diligence firms as an additional layer of security checks.

It boils down to the process of vetting and background checks on applicants and their family members. Applicants who can be denied of passport for a number of reasons

19. CBI Transparency

Transparency and full disclosure by governments increases trust among clients and investors thus increasing the reputation of CBI programs along with increased marketability. Many governments publish annual reports reports showing cbi revenues, availability of application forms online, appointing agents etc. vetting process applied, applications received, refused etc.

The most transparent CBI schemes are Malta, Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia etc. These programs received maximum points for their transparency

St Lucia scored top marks along with Malta as the country  greatly improved the transparency of CIP. For example revamped new website, publishing statistics,  free application forms available online for investors to familiarize with the documentation process.

From what we have seen only St Lucia and Vanuatu have published application forms for free download in CIU websites, giving CBI investors a great deal of transparency. All the other countries application forms can only be obtained from authorized agents and law firms (not available online).

20. Passport Validity

The validity of passport greatly influences the decision taken by prospective investors. It is one of the most important selection criteria. A long validity often 10 years is often desirable than 5 years, for less hassles. Some countries have lowered the validity to 5 years for vetting purposes to periodically check investors.

It is worth mentioning that Vanuatu has increased the validity from 5 years to 10 years in 2020 making the CIP all the more attractive for investors.

CBIPassport Expiry
Montenegro10 year
Malta10 years
St Kitts and Nevis10 years
Antigua and Barbuda5 years
Grenada5 years
Dominica10 years
Saint Lucia5 years
Vanuatu10 years
Turkey10 years
Bulgaria10 years
Samoa10 years
Jordan10 years
Egypt10 years

21. Personal visit exemption

Covid has made trips or visits impossible for the purpose of acquiring citizenship. From what we have seen, investors hate taking trips to a far away country spending thousands of dollars in travel fares and dont want to risk contracting covid. Safety and family is more important than investing or anything else.

For many CBI programs, without taking a personal trip it is impossible to fulfill  the formalities with real estate and applying for citizenship is still required. Real estate sales have been stalled as investors dont want to spend huge sum of money without seeing the property in person and careful avoid any sort of scams.

The Visit requirement has been waived off by Vanuatu and all caribbean countries to make the process simple and easy. As a result this one factor created a huge surge in interest for CBI programs that require no personal visit

22. Lifetime Citizenship

Not all countries that run CBI schemes provide citizenship for life.  Some countries offer citizenship upto third generations only. Only Grenada, Turkey, Malta, Bulgaria, Montenegro, allow citizenship to passed on to future generations unrestricted. These countries score big scores in the rankings

23. Covid discount

Caribbean countries have cut prices and offered government discount to investors. Those countries that provided covid discount have scored additional points in our PBS scoring model

  • St Kitts and Nevis – USD 45,000 savings until Jan 15
  • Dominica – Prices cut for family of 4 (contribution reduced to $175,000)
  • St Lucia – Prices cut for family of 4 (contribution cut to $150,000) and 50% discount Covid bond offer until Dec 31.
  • Antigua – Prices cuts family prices for family and children

24. Family friendly

All caribbean countries have amended CIP legislation to family friendly, allowing siblings and children to be added as post citizenship addition. This only brings more convenience to investors giving them a more relaxed approach to add family members at later stages

Caribbean countries scored additional points for implementing this perk.

25. Real estate prices

Cheaper Real estate prices is also adds interest to clients to pick a country for citizenship. Malta has the most expensive real estate prices, while Montenegro has the lowest in Europe.

Caribbean countries have slightly higher prices. Vanuatu has the cheapest real estate prices among all CBI programs but Vanuatu does not have a real estate option for citizenship at the moment.

The cheaper the real estate prices more points are assigned.

26. CBI Platforms

Covid has driven almost all government services towards toward online services. Digital filing and processing of applications is absolutely essential during pandemic times, eliminating all paperwork. Caribbean countries (also Vanuatu) were quick to implement CBI online platforms working spearheading digital innovations towards virtual citizenship for the future.

St Lucia is the first country to implement e-platform for payment processing

As a result these countries were given a boost in our scoring model.

27. Stateless people

This year we assigned more points for CBI programs that accept stateless people, giving them investment opportunity.  As of today, only these countries accept stateless people

  • Vanuatu
  • Dominica
  • Antigua
  • Turkey

28. Consulate Assistance Abroad

Consulate assistance is very important for CBI citizens. For example to renew their passport, authentication of documents, and any emergency support, when stranded abroad.

Malta, Turkey, Bulgaria, Montenegro have diplomatic representations around the world. Many Caribbean countries have diplomatic footprints established in UAE, UK, USA and in many parts Europe.

The more consulates abroad to help citizens, higher the points assigned.

29. Quotas

Few CBI programs have limited quotas to curtail the number of investors.

  • Malta – 1500 investors (capped 400 per year)
  • Montenegro – 2000 investors
  • Jordan – 500 investors

All other CIPs doe not impose quota limits.

Our model assigns higher scores for programs that have no limits encouraging more investment.