We give you important tips and advice on what to look for when you apply for citizenship by investment programs from the best experts working in the field for the past ten years.

Our guide will help you to pick the right CBI program for you.

Table of Contents

Second Passport Benefits

A passport, is must in the wealth management portfolio for High-net-worth individuals. It is also considered as an insurance policy of the twenty first century for asset protection. These shiny new gold standard investment passports have become an ultimate luxury item – a future investment for family generation.

Recent KnightFrank wealth survey reveals two out of three HNW individuals have already invested in a second passport, while the others are considering one. A passport is the ultimate luxury item replacing super cars, jewelry and antiquities.

Citizenship by investment schemes provide an an excellent opportunity for wealthy families to become dual citizens by investment. One important benefit for dual citizens, is they are allowed to carry more than one passport.

For many a passport gives new identity and new life making you truly a World Citizen. A World without borders opens up for you!

  • Second home, visit anytime you want
  • Greater travel freedom and mobility
  • Get out of your country, when there is Global crisis
  • Access to best healthcare and education systems for your children outside your country.
  • Access to international financial freedom (open bank accounts)
  • Enjoy Retirement to receive pensions
  • Citizenship passed to future family generations.
  • Live, work, study and do business anywhere you want.
  • Education abroad for children abroad with best universities
  • Reduce your taxes with clever tax planning.
  • Expand your business opportunities attending events, conferences, trade shows across the globe.

What is Citizenship by Investment?

Citizenship by investment (CBI) is the process by which investors are given fast tracked citizenship within months in exchange for investments in the country (eg. Donation to state, Real estate, buying state debt etc). The History of economic citizenship goes back to 1980’s

All CBI programs are backed by proper Citizenship by investment legislation to protect investors. The established CIP legislation requires all applicants including family members are required to pass strict background checks including AML/KYC checks before being issued of passports.

Every country has established its own regulations. Some countries even dont require a physical visit, considering many CBI economic citizens, actually live in diaspora and do not immigrate physically to the second country.

CBI schemes are common referred as “Economic citizenship” in Americas , “Investor Citizenship” in Europe by the European commission. The news and media outlets call “Golden passports”, as many wealthy individuals have acquired second passports by investing.

Citizenship by investment is estimated by industry experts to be worth $5 billion annually with Cyprus receiving good chunk of investments. By 2025, the demand for investment passports are projected to double by 2025. The surplus CBI revenues were used by Governments to reduce debt, disaster recovery, hospitals, schools, public infrastructure, housing and pensions for the local population.

The Biggest CBI schemes are

  1. Cyprus
  2. Turkey
  3. St Kitts and Nevis
  4. Malta
  5. Dominica
  6. Jordan

List of Countries Giving Citizenship for Investments

we have compiled, there are 19 citizenship by investment programs in total, spread across Asia, Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific.

Price Status Investment Time (months)
1 Austria €10m defunct States Interest 12
2 Cyprus €2m closed Real Estate 7
3 Bulgaria €1m Active Govt Bonds 18
5 Turkey €250,000 Active Real Estate 3
6 Antigua and Barbuda $100,000 Active Donation 3
7 St Kitts and Nevis $150,000 Active Donation 3
8 Vanuatu $130,000 Active Donation 2
9 Grenada $150,000 Active Donation 3
10 Saint Lucia $100,000 Active Donation 3
11 Dominica $100,000 Active Donation 3
12 Cambodia $250,000 Unknown Donation 12
13 Samoa $1.2m Active Business 20
14 Egypt $250,000 Active Real estate 3
15 Jordan $1.5m Active Capital 12
16 Moldova €100,000 Suspended Donation 3
17 Montenegro €350,000 Active Real Estate 3
18 Comoros $50,000 Closed Donation 2
19 Malta €750,000 Active Donation 12

Best Citizenship by Investment Programs

Every year we make a study on the CBI programs in the world. Our study looked into 37 important indicators from clients perspective assigned PBS scores to each CBI program. This year St Lucia topped the rankings followed by Dominica due to Covid and affects.

Best CBI Rankings 2021

Upcoming Citizenship by Investment Programs

These countries may open CBI program in the future for investments..

  • Solomon Islands
  • Albania
  • Bahamas

Types of Investment routes

Citizenship by investment regulations provide 5 types of investment options eligible to acquire immediate citizenship.

  1. Non Refundable Donation to State fund ($100K or more)
  2. Real Estate Investment ($200K or more)
  3. Government bonds / Treasury securities
  4. Business Capital Enterprise Investment
  5. Bank deposit

The first and most popular option for most citizenship investors is Lump sum donation . We have seen over 80% of the clients, go through this route because it easy, simple, cheap and fast.

The second most popular option with clients is real estate investment. This option attracts more wealthy and HNW investors who want to profit from real estate investment yields. You must hold on to the property for 3-5 years before selling it off in the market. After you sell the property you can still keep citizenship and passport.

The third option is  investing in government bonds. These are risk free investments fully refundable by government after usually 5 years without interest At the moment 7 CBI programs offer buying Government bonds or securities in exchange for passport. St Lucia has announced Corona bonds for $250,000 until Dec 31, 2021. Cyprus has scrapped this option since 2019.

Bank deposit is also an very interesting option if you want to risks with your liquid cash. At the moment only Turkey and two other countries have this option. The problem with this approach is interest is too low and some country nations may face difficulty in opening bank accounts .

The final option available is Business investment. This is a great option if you have business background, already successful investor and you can create jobs. Antigua and Saint Lucia are the only two caribbean countries that award citizenship by investment to business investors making atleast $1.5m or $5m jointly. Under the joint investment plan, each investor making $400K qualifies for passport. For Turkey all you have to do is create 100 jobs to become a citizen.

We compiled a nice comparison of investment options available for citizenship by investment program, so that you would know where and how much to invest.

Donation Real Estate Govt Bonds Bank deposit Business
Antigua $100K $200K x x $1.5m
Dominica $100K $200K x x x
Grenada $150K $200K x x x
St Kitts $150K $200K x x x
St Lucia $100K $300K $250K x $1.5M
Vanuatu $130K x x x x
Malta €750K x €150K x x
Bulgaria x €500K €1M x €1M
Montenegro x €250K x x €5M
Jordan x x $1M $1M $750K
Egypt $250K $500K $750K $250K $400K
Turkey x $250K $500K $500K $500K

Covid Impact

Covid had a great impact on the CBI industry. It had both positive and negative effects. The Global demand for citizenship products have skyrocketed with huge rise in inquiries during the covid pandemic. Interest has also picked from Americans and UK nationals (due to brexit)

Many wealthy families and high profile americans have invested in passports as Plan B measure. The Covid has throughout us the importance of families and loved ones, so probably investing in future of family and children is the new trend

Positive

  • Caribbean governments have announced Covid discount for family applications, cutting the costs making it even more cheaper for applicants.
  • Covid created new safe haven investments .
  • CBI applications can now be filed online and oaths can be done through video link (without visiting country)
  • Personal visits, travels and trip required have been waived by 6 CBI countries in Caribbean and Pacific
  • Average application processing times for citizenship approvals have been reduced under 2 months.
  • E-payment platforms have been set up for faster payment processing, rather than relying on costly bank transfers.

Negative

  • Travel and trips become impossible due to Covid and variants, without PCR test and 14 day quarantine.
  • Vaccination passports have been proposed by many world nations.
  • Slight delays caused for background verifications done by governments and third party companies.
  • Delays caused with logistics and passport deliveries.
  • Prior appointments must to visit government offices, embassies and consulates.

How to Pick the right program?

With so many CBI programs around, often it can be more confusing to clients to pick the right passport for the right price. It is important that you do not overspend and pay only what you need for.

Know these Important differences

  • Montenegro EU acquis and Schengen likely to happen by 2025
  • St Lucia is the only country that offers Covid bonds (limited offer until Dec 31) in the Caribbean for CBI
  • Moldova, Cyprus is closed and not operational in 2021.
  • Vanuatu is the fastest CIP in the world with easy application process with superfast approvals (< 6 weeks).
  • St Lucia and Dominica are the cheapest CIP for single applicants.
  • Antigua is the cheapest CIP for families cost wise.

We will give you 15 important tips.to help you decide the right citizenship program.

1. Price factor

Price is the first most important factor for clients applying for citizenship by investment schemes.

The most expensive passport may not be the best passport for you. You have to find the right balance between the price you pay and the passport benefits. Always pick the right one for you and family.

You have to select a CBI program that gives the best benefits for the right price. You also have to keep in mind that the more family members you add, prices rise exponentially. Malta and Bulgaria are the most expensive programs.

Our first tip of the day for you is Don’t Overpay!

How to calculate costs?

All the price calculations are straightforward and transparent. Here is how you calculate the total costs, it really depends on the program.

  • Govt donation ($100K)
  • CIP application and processing fee (upto $2000)
  • Due diligence fee ($7500 for main applicant/spouse, $5000 per child above 16+)
  • Real estate – additional Govt processing fee $30,000 or more applies
  • Lawyer fee ($5000 to $7000)
  • Passport and certificate fee ($400 pp)
  • Additional costs (bank charges, courier, translations etc) – ($500)

Here is our quick price comparison with other citizenship by investment schemes, in terms of Government donation, application and due diligence fees.

Single Applicant

Passport (Single person under Donation option)
Saint Lucia $109,500
Dominica $109,950
Vanuatu $130,400 (All inclusive of lawyer fee)
Antigua $152,800
St Kitts and Nevis $157,750
Grenada $158,500
Montenegro €365,000 (100K donation + 250K real estate)
Malta €750,000 plus costs
Turkey $265,000 (real estate)

Note: Additional Lawyer/Authorized agent fee may range from $5000 to $7000 depending on the lawyer, program and requirements.

Family

Family members have a BIG impact on the prices of CBI schemes. The costs increase when more family members according to the framework of CIP legislation established by Governments.

We will show you the total costs for family applying under SGF donation under one application

Donation only Family of 4 (2 child < 11)
Antigua $146,200
Dominica $193,200
Grenada $220,000
St Kitts and Nevis $162,500 (Limited Discount)
Montenegro 385,000 € (donation plus real estate)
Vanuatu $186,500 (All inclusive of lawyer fee)
St Lucia $167,000
Malta 900,000 €
Turkey $269,000 (real estate)

Note: The Lawyer/Authorized agent fee additional may range from $5000 to $7000 depending on the program and requirements.

Real Estate

Investing in real estate may also qualify you for citizenship by investment. The Caribbean countries charge additional $30,000 government processing fee on top of real estate investment. The below fee structure will give you a good idea on what to expect..

CBI Minimum real estate Government processing fee
Antigua USD 200,000 (Share) / $USD 400,000 (full title) USD 30,000 (upto family of 4)
Dominica USD 200,000 (share or full title) USD 25,000 (single) and $35,000 (family of 4)
Grenada USD 200,000 (share) or USD 350,000 (full title) USD 50,000 (upto family of 4)
St Kitts and Nevis USD 200,000 (share) or USD 400,000 (title) USD 35,000 (single) or USD 75,000 (family of 4)
Montenegro EUR 250,000 (north) or EUR 450,000 (south) Application fee EUR 100,000 (goes to donation) plus Govt fee (euro 15000 single and additional 10,000 per family member)
St Lucia USD 300,000 onwards USD 30,000 (single) or USD 55,000 (family of 4)
Turkey USD 250,000 None

Note: Due diligence fee, lawyer fee, application and passport fee additional.

St Lucia Covid Bonds

St Lucia has a super interesting special route for citizenship. The CIP St Lucia has recently announced bond offer with 50% discount for USD 250,000 (fully refunded) after 5 years. It is important to note that the $250,000 offer is available for family of 5 members without increasing the minimum investment. The bond investment must be held for 7 years in case of families. There is additional $30,000 government processing fee and $7500 due diligence fee.

Considering the entire $250K bond sum in refunded, the true cost of citizenship will be less than $45,000 and the citizenship cost per family member is only $12,500. Here is an example.

Single Applicant Family of 5 (main applicant, spouse, 3 children < 16yrs)
Bond: $250,000
Due diligence: $7500
Govt processing: $30,000
Lawyer fee: $6000
Total: $293,500
Bond: $250,000 (held for 7 years)
Due diligence: $15000
Govt processing: $30,000
Lawyer fee: $6000
Total: $301,000

2. Processing times

A significant number of clients have asked us about which citizenship programs have simple application and fast processing times.

We have always tell them the same answer. Allow 3-4 months and apply as early as possible. The difficult part is arranging the certification of documents such police certificate, medical certificate, birth certificate etc. These basic documents consume more time.

Vanuatu has simple and super fast application processing times. We have seen letter of approvals issued by Citizenship commission, as early 4 weeks.

If you want the fastest program, our suggestion would be Vanuatu, whole process completed in 6 weeks. All caribbean passport schemes takes atleast 3-4 months.

3. Passport power

The strength of a passport to visit many countries without visas, especially to most important six BIG countries in the world is equally important.

Visa Free United States United Kingdom Russia China EU Schengen Canada
Malta ˣ ˣ
Cyprus ˣ ˣ ˣ
Bulgaria ˣ ˣ ˣ
Grenada ˣ ˣ
Antigua ˣ ˣ ˣ
Saint Kitts ˣ ˣ ˣ
Saint Lucia ˣ ˣ ˣ
Dominica ˣ ˣ ˣ
Vanuatu ˣ ˣ ˣ
Montenegro ˣ ˣ ˣ ˣ
Moldova ˣ ˣ ˣ ˣ
Turkey ˣ ˣ ˣ ˣ ˣ ˣ

Please note Canada and United States impose Electronic travel authorization (ETA) on visa waiver countries.

Another important thing to remember for clients, they should pick the right passport, that has visa free access to the country they frequently visit. For example if you have business ties or family or children studying in United Kingdom, it would not make sense to apply for Montenegro or Moldova passport.

You should also be able to spot minor difference with visa free access using CBI passport. For example. Turkish passport is an excellent passport to visit Japan or South Korea

South Africa Israel Japan Singapore South Korea
Antigua and Barbuda
Bulgaria
Dominica
Grenada
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Cyprus
Turkey
Malta
Moldova e
Montenegro
Vanuatu
Jordan
Egypt

e – eVisa
√ Visa not required
ₓ Visa required

It is also important to take into consideration visa free access to some 61 territories (dependent colonies) in the World. Some are British, French, Dutch colonies

For example you may want to travel to british colonies such as Bermuda , Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands (BVI), or US colonies such as US Virgin Islands (USVI). Sint Maarten is also worth mentioning a Dutch territory. These wealthiest islands are beautiful attract many wealthy millionaires often travel to these locations for holiday vacations.

Visa Waivers

Visa waivers fuel demand for passports that come with visa free movement. It has become the most important marketing factor to attract clients applying for passports. Imagine with one powerful second passport, you could visit all the 196 countries in the world.

You will see below the soft visas (eVisa, ETA, VOA etc) and hard visas required to visit 196 countries in the world for CBI passports. Clearly Malta is powerful and Caribbean passports are not far behind.

Visa not required Visa required eVisa eTA Visa on arrival eVisa / Visa on arrival Total Access
Malta 118 30 13 3 18 14 166
Austria 117 30 12 3 13 21 166
Cyprus 117 33 15 1 16 14 163
Bulgaria 110 34 15 1 17 19 162
Antigua 98 54 11 1 26 4 140
Saint Kitts 99 53 10 2 27 4 142
Grenada 92 59 13 1 26 4 136
Saint Lucia 90 60 12 2 27 4 135
Dominica 87 61 14 1 27 5 134
Vanuatu 80 67 13 0 29 5 127
Montenegro 74 68 16 0 23 14 127
Samoa 78 69 13 0 29 6 126
Moldova 72 76 14 0 20 13 119
Turkey 65 79 9 2 22 16 114
Cambodia 17 127 19 0 20 11 67
Jordan 16 130 18 1 18 11 64
Comoros 14 138 10 0 24 9 57
Egypt 16 132 16 0 21 10 63

Source: Best Passport Rankings Study 2020

On 28 May 2015 the EU signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with St Lucia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Republic of Vanuatu, the independent State of Samoa and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Canada revoked visa waiver agreements for all Caribbean countries selling passports by 2015 citing citizenship for sale pose a serious risk to Canada’s borders.

We noticed when Canada revoked visa waiver and imposed visa restriction on Antiguan citizens in 2017, the applications for CBI passport took a nose dive. This goes on to show how important are visa waivers for citizenship by investment programs.

But the Caribbean countries have managed to expand their visa waiver agreements to Russia and other countries in an effort to boost tourism and passport revenues.

4. Passport Validity

Passport validity is a very important to consider when applying for citizenship by investment programs. Some countries issue passports for 5 years or 10 years.

Passports with ten year validity is more convenient to clients, as they dont have to go through hassle of renewing passports quickly.

Note that Antigua, St Lucia and Grenada have passport validity of 5 years. All other passports come with 10 year validity. Antigua is a special case, once you renew the passport first time, the passport validity extended to 10 years. If you renew your passport after first issue, the validity is increased to 10 years (from 5 years)

CBI Validity
Antigua 5 years
St Kitts 10 years
Dominica 10 years
St Lucia 5 years
Grenada 5 years
Vanuatu 10 years
Turkey 10 years
Malta 10 years
Cyprus 10 years
Bulgaria 10 years
Moldova 10 years
Montenegro 10 years

5. E-2 Visa

Access to E-2 investor visa is a very important benefit that comes from Citizenship by investment (CBI) schemes to enter US.

There are only 7 CBI countries that have E-2 treaty investor signed with United States.  All other Citizenship by investment programs (CIP) do not offer this benefit

  • Montenegro
  • Turkey
  • Bulgaria
  • Grenada
  • Moldova
  • Egypt
  • Jordan

E-2 visas are cheaper alternative to EB-5 in terms of processing speed and cheaper investment. Certain countries such as China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Russia do not have E-2 treaty direct with US, so citizens from these countries can take advantage of CBI schemes as backdoor entry to US. Remember E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas and even family members can apply.

Here are some of the important difference between E-2 and EB-5 visas.

E-2 EB-5
Visa Category Non-immmigrant Immigrant Visa
Min. Investment $100,000 – $200,000 $900,000 to $1.8 million
Visa validity 2-5 years Temporary Green card (2 years)
Green card No Yes
Job creation 5 jobs 10 jobs
Waiting time 3 weeks 2-15 years
Citizenship No Yes
Residence conditions None Must move and live in US.
Not absent for 6 months per year
Quota none 10,000 annual limit
Working Full time Director
Work permit Spouse only Spouse and children < 21
Application paperwork Easy Complicated / Strict rules
Who can apply? E-2 treaty countries No restrictions
Taxes on Worldwide income* May be Yes
Visa fee $205 $3,675 (I-526 petition)
Legal costs $10,000 to $20,000 $50,000 to $100,000

*Please seek professional tax advice before your immigrate to US.

6. Right to Vote

The Citizenship by Investment Regulations of these countries do not permit right to vote to economic citizens.

  • Antigua,
  • St Kitts and Nevis,
  • Dominica
  • Vanuatu

All other countries offer voting rights and even holding government office positions and entering politics.

St Lucia, Grenada are the most complete CBI programs in the Caribbean.

7. Citizenship transferable to Generations

These citizenship by investment programs allow transferring citizenship rights upto three family generations only.

  • Dominica
  • Antigua
  • St Lucia
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Vanuatu

Except these four programs, all other CBI programs offer full lifetime citizenship.

8. No personal visit

Citizenship Programs that have no personal visit requirements for passports are much more attractive and desirable to clients.

Imagine you live in UAE, the Caribbean or Vanuatu is still far way and you dont want to spend thousands of dollars in flight bookings to take your family just for a passport. This is unrealistic, especially the world is reeling with the outbreak of coronavirus. It is really not a good time to travel during disease outbreaks.

Except 5 CBI programs, all other countries require a personal visit atleast once

CBI Personal visit
Antigua 5 days
St Kitts none
Dominica none
St Lucia none
Grenada none
Vanuatu none
Turkey none
Malta yes
Cyprus yes
Bulgaria yes
Montenegro yes

9. No Residence conditions

Citizenship by investment programs that have zero or no residence conditions are more attractive to many clients.

All countries (except caribbean and vanuatu) such as Turkey, Malta issue residence permits first before issuing naturalization certificate under CBI.

CBI Residence
Antigua 5 days*
Dominica None
Grenada None
Saint Lucia None
St Kitts and Nevis None
Turkey none
Vanuatu None
Malta 12 months
Cyprus 6 months
Montenegro None
Egypt no
Jordan no
Bulgaria 24 months

*Antigua imposes 5 day residence requirement when you renew your passport after 5 years. If you dont visit Antigua, your passport will be canceled. For Turkey, formalities can be completed by issuing Power of Attorney

10. Healthcare / Education / Safety

European countries are superb when it comes to education and healthcare, especially Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. These countries also have low crime rate and high safety rankings. Moldova and Montenegro are okay catching up to european standards but they have a long way to go.

Caribbean countries still struggle with crime and do offer affordable healthcare. They also have some nice universities eg. St George Medical University in Grenada and the newly opened University of West Indies (UWI) campus at Antigua. Antigua recently opened UWI fund donation option for citizenship by investment.

You should only consider this if you want to move and live the country. If you just want a passport for mobility, probably you can ignore these.

11. Quotas

You must also seriously consider limited quotas with citizenship by investment schemes. This is because once the quota reaches the limit, the schemes wont reopen again and you missed the opportunity to acquire citizenship through investments.

These are limits currently imposed on certain CBI schemes. The Caribbean passport schemes do not have any limits

Malta Total quota 1500 (New) 400 per year
Montenegro 2000
Vanuatu No limits
Turkey no limits
Cyprus 700 per year
Jordan 500 per year
Dominica
Antigua
Grenada
St Kitts
St Lucia
No limits

13. EU Citizenship Rights

The European Union (EU) citizenship, first of all does not exist as its own, it a supplemental citizenship conferred by member states of the EU. The Citizenship of the European Union shall not replace national citizenship and is automatically lost if revoked by the member state.

EU citizens can also be dual citizens. Most EU states do grant citizenship through ordinary naturalization meeting conditions such as long term residency, integration, passing civic and language tests.

Only three member states (Malta, Bulgaria) grant expedited citizenship based on investment.

  • Bulgaria – €1m (Government bonds, financing possible)
  • Malta – €750K Donation + Processing fee)

Bulgaria remains the cheapest option, while other programs are only suitable for High-net-worth investors costing excess of one million euros.

What rights do EU citizens enjoy?

  • Right to free movement, settlement and live anywhere across the EU.
  • Right to trade and transport goods, services and capital freely through EU borders ( no restrictions on capital movements)
  • Right to vote in and run as a candidate in local elections, european elections and european citizens initiative
  • Right to consular protection by embassies of other EU member states when embassy is not present
  • Right to equal pay, discrimination at workplace,
  • Right to legal protection, data protection and privacy.
  • Full citizen rights including protection from deportation
  • Favourable tax regime (requires advance planning)

Non-EU Nationals

Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not part of European Union therefore these country nationals are not EU citizens. Although these countries are not members of the EU, their nationals can work in the EU on the same footing as EU nationals, since they belong to the European Economic Area.

14. Real Estate

Investing in real estate for passport has distinct advantages.

  1. You get permanent residence card + citizenship + passport.
  2. You get permanent home address, proving strong ties to the country.
  3. Sell the property shares later in 3-5 years, you would still be citizen.
  4. You can also invest in hotels or resorts for equity buyback shares.

Prices for real estate to acquire passport starts from $200,000 in the Caribbean much higher in Europe. Remember ONLY investing in Government approved developments will qualify you for citizenship.

These are some of the best five star real estate projects we recommend for buyers. Some of these projects are under development

  1. Six Senses  Hotel / Kawana Bay, Grenada
  2. Canelles Resort / Alpina Hotel, St Lucia
  3. Kolasin Hotel / Durmitor Hotel, Montenegro
  4. Non Such bay, Antigua
  5. Park Hyatt / Marriott, St Kitts and Nevis
  6. Jungle Bay Villas / Secret Bay, Dominica

14. Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is debatable topic. Many highly developed asian and middle-east countries still restrict dual citizenship, while americas and europe are open to the subject of dual nationality.

These are some examples with

  • Fully Restricted: India, China, Japan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Austria etc..
  • Requires permission: Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka
  • Partial Restrictions: Pakistan, Latvia (only with treaty countries)

The reason why dual citizenship has become so important is, dual citizens are permitted to carry two or more passports while traveling. In addition, dual citizens get plethora of benefits such as pension, education, healthcare. Dual citizenship also has some disadvantages and risks associated with it.

If you are national of country where dual citizenship is prohibited, you have to watch out you dont automatically lose previous citizenship, when taking up second citizenship. You must seek legal advice!

There are laws to denaturalize or strip citizenship if you are involved in terrorism or illegal activities. Several caribbean countries already revoked citizenship of CBI citizens before. This is important because, if you already renounced your previous citizenship and the second country revokes your citizenship for any reason, you would become stateless.

Consular protection during emergency may be limited for dual citizens in some cases. For example if you are Chinese-Canadian dual citizen, you have limited consular protection at canadian embassy in china for some emergency.

15. Commonwealth Citizenship

Only Eight citizenship by investment (CBI) programs offer commonwealth citizenship as a supplemental citizenship. There are a number of benefits available being a part of commonwealth. Commonwealth citizenship status is automatically lost if the citizenship is lost from the membership state.

  • Europe – Malta, Cyprus
  • Caribbean – Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia
  • Pacific – Vanuatu

One important benefit Commonwealth citizens get is they may receive consular assistance from British embassies and consulates in foreign non-Commonwealth nations where their home countries have not established diplomatic or consular posts.

Many Commonwealth countries do not treat citizens from other member states as foreign nationals. The rights that Commonwealth citizens are entitled to differ depending on country. They are eligible to apply for British emergency passports, if their travel documents have been lost or stolen and permission has been given by their national governments. In some member states, they may also be issued non-passport travel documents when they are unable to present their national passports

When residing in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth citizens are generally exempt from registering with local police,may be employed in non-reserved Civil Service posts, and are eligible to enlist in the British Armed Forces.

16. Embassies and Consulates

Citizens who plan to invest for passport, It is also important to consider the consular assistance when you are abroad. For example if you are in UAE, many caribbean countries have established diplomatic missions to make it easier for you.

Citizens can seek consulate or embassy help through diplomatic missions abroad. These missions will provide you services such as

  • Passport renewals or loss of passport
  • Urgent services such as emergency certificate for travel
  • Investment and trade
  • Notarization and Power of Attorney
  • Citizenship by investment services

We have compiled list of embassies and consulates of countries of all the countries running citizenship by investment programs.

17. Easy Application Process

You must also consider a program which offers easy application process that puts less burden on you to arrange the necessary papers and documentation. Vanuatu has the easiest application so far, European citizenship programs are the hardest, Caribbean is difficult requiring you assemble lot of additional documents.

  • Vanuatu (Easiest)
  • Caribbean (Difficult)
  • Europe (Hardest)

18. Privacy and Confidentiality

It is absolutely essential that you pick a program that gives you the maximum privacy. It is true that your citizenship is not reported to your home nation by the granting countries., you have to take precautions against media leaks etc if you are high profile public figure.

For example Dominica, Malta are the two countries that publish citizenship investors to public by publishing in a gazette. Privacy is not airtight with these countries.

As far as we know, these are the most private top secret citizenship by investment programs

  1. Vanuatu
  2. St Kitts and Nevis
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Grenada
  5. Montenegro
  6. Turkey

19. Oath

St Kitts and Nevis is the only country that exempts citizens from taking oath of allegiance, saving you lot of time completing citizenship process. All other countries require taking oaths at consulates abroad in front of commissioner of oaths. Vanuatu accepts taking oaths through video link in front of the officer.

Oath is the important final step to complete the citizenship process. You will not become full citizen without completing this process and passport will not be issued.

How to Apply

The Application steps are pretty straightforward for all programs (standard procedure). Please start the process well ahead atleast 3 months in advance. Have some of the important documents ready such as Police certificate ,Medical certificate, original birth certificate (required for passport)

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Application forms
  2. Apply through Authorized agent (lawyer) who will do the initial KYC and initial due diligence.
  3. Pay 50% of the Lawyer fee plus CIP Due diligence fee
  4. The Agent will upload your application to CIU Unit electronically
  5. Wait for background checks to complete and approval letter to be issued by CIU unit (3 months)
  6. Complete the remaining investment within 3 months
  7. Take an oath
  8. Citizenship certificate is issued
  9. Passport is issued (2 weeks)

How to make Payments

There are some rules you have to follow when making payments, to protect yourself.

  • The Donation sum must be sent by bank transfer to government bank account. (Do not pay to agents)
  • Pay only due diligence fee and agent fee to authorized agents.
  • Real estate payments must be kept in the escrow account, as per government rules
  • All payments should be sent from the main applicants bank account. (must be in your name). (do not use corporate account)
  • Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are not officially accepted by any government. Some real estate developers and agents do accept bitcoin.
  • Delays may occur if the received sum is less than the minimum required investment. Please include bank charges, foreign transfer conversions before initiating the wire transfer.

Due Diligence / Background Checks

Due diligence is the heartbeat of the investment immigration industry collecting $15 billion in investments through CBI and Golden visa schemes.

Governments have maintained highest standards of due diligence keeping out high risk applicants to protect the integrity of the migration schemes.

Agents first do preliminary due diligence and background checks before passing the files to Governments. Governments and CIUs do various profiling checks for sanctions, source of funds and other risk tools to identify risk. Third party due diligence reports from Thomson Reuters, Exiger, Refinitiv, S-RM are sought by Governments before a decision is made on approvals. Sometimes this takes atleast 2-3 months. Over 90% of the work involved for passport applicants lies in screening for risk. High risk applicants including Politically exposed persons (PEPs) are subjected to Enhanced due diligence (EDD)

Citizenship Applications are refused in the following cases

  • Failing background checks
  • Previous Criminal record
  • Visa rejections from visa waiver countries.
  • Individuals or entities subjected to sanctions.
  • Wanted persons by Interpol or other law enforcement agencies.
  • Failing to explain sources of income.
  • Applicants from a country subjected to sanctions (eg. Iran, North Korea, Sudan)

Applicants for Caribbean passport programs undergo common vetting by the Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC) along with Enhanced due diligence (EDD) checks. JRCC the sub agency for Caricom IMPACS (Implementation agency for crime and security).

The JRCC assists regional law enforcement personnel in the detection of persons who are traveling with stolen, lost and fraudulent travel documents, along with the identification of and monitoring the movements of persons of interest, including those who may be a high security threat to the safety and security of the Region.

The Legislation of Citizenship by Investment Act empower authorities to revoke citizenship of applicants, any time after granting citizenship, if found to be

  • Imprisoned abroad for 12 months or more
  • Bringing disrepute to the country engaging in illegal activities
  • Wanted person or subject of interest to international law enforcement

Cyprus, Malta, Saint Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis, Malta, Bulgaria have a history of revoked passports and stripped citizenship on applicants who acquired citizenship through investments.

Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria do not accept applicants subjected to OFAC (US), EU or UK sanctions.

Restricted countries

Nationals of countries such as

  • Iran,
  • North Korea,
  • Sudan,
  • Somalia

are restricted for some Caribbean citizenship by investment schemes* unless they live outside these countries for over 5 years and have no financial connections to these countries.

Taxation

Taxes are an important subject with citizenship by investment . In most countries, taxation is based on residence (183 days a year) and not based on citizenship. Tax laws in most countries are extremely complex and varies for dual citizens.

Vanuatu, St Kitts and Antigua are only three countries that have NO personal income taxes on both local and foreign income. If you pursue a  passport that comes with no personal income tax, these countries are the most desirable ones. All other CBI countries in the Caribbean will exempt you from personal income taxes ONLY if you are a non-resident citizen.

Here is a quick comparison of how taxes apply in CBI jurisdictions

CBI Corporate Tax Personal Income Tax Wealth Tax Capital Gains Inheritance or Estate Tax Tax Treaties
Antigua 25.00% 0% 0 0 0 Caricom, UK
St Kitts 33.00% 0 0 0% (< 1yr) 0 CARICOM, Monaco, Switzerland, UK
Dominica 25.00% Residents only 0 0 0 Caricom
St Lucia 30.00% Residents only (upto 30%) 0 0 0 Caricom, Switzerland
Grenada 28.00% Resident/Non-residents income within Grenada (15%) 0 0 0 Caricom,UK
Vanuatu 0.00% Upto 17% 0 0 0 19 countries
Turkey 22.00% 15-35% yes 22.00% 1-30% 94 countries
Malta 35.00% Upto 35% 0 12.00% 0 76 countries
Cyprus 12.50% Upto 35% 0 20.00% 0 65 countries
Bulgaria 10.00% 10-18% + SS 0 0 0.4-0.8% 86 countries
Moldova 12.00% 12% + SS 0.80% 10.00% 0 50 countries
Montenegro 9.00% 9-12% 0 9.00% 5.00% 42 countries
Egypt 22.50% Upto 22.5% 0 0 2.50% 50 countries
Jordan 20.00% Upto 14% 0 0 (except company share sale or depreciable assets) 0 32 countries

Sources: Deloitte and other sources

Important: Please seek a tax advice from a qualified expert before you consider citizenship planning. The above information is general  compiled for knowledge purpose only.

In 2018, OECD listed 16 countries including Caribbean and European CBI/RBI schemes as non compliant jurisdictions for CRS tax sharing. If you already a CBI citizen, banks might ask you to disclose tax number from your home country.

CBI OECD blacklist
Antigua ͯ
Bulgaria ͯ
Cyprus
Dominica
Grenada
Malta
Montenegro ͯ
Moldova ͯ
Turkey ͯ
St Kitts
St Lucia
Vanuatu
Jordan ͯ
Egypt ͯ
Samoa ͯ

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

It is also very important you only apply for legally running and official programs and you do not fall into a passport scams. Follow these 3 cardinal rules.

Rule 1: Do not buy real estate or pay full Government contribution before receiving Letter of approval from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Government. This should take 2-3 months. Most agents will only ask you to pay initial retainer deposit which consists of agent fee and due diligence fee. If your application is refused you dont need to pay the contribution. Dont let yourself be conned!

Rule 2: You are only supposed to pay the donation or contribution ONLY directly to the Government bank account. Don’t pay to third parties.

Rule 3: Don’t invest in real estate developments that are not approved or authorized by Government. CIUs are required to publish list of approved property developments in their website. You wont qualify for citizenship/passport investing in unapproved developments. These are likely scams to lure investors. Governments running CBI programs, have moved establish escrow legislation to protect property investors.

Rule 4: Do not fall for honey trap CBI offers offered by unlicensed agents, undercutting the minimum investment set by government. Please check official citizenship units for reference to fees and prices.

Rule 5: Dont fall for fake citizenship by investment schemes. The real schemes are backed by CBI legislation and laws. In most countries of the world it is impossible to get passport without living for a long period (atleast 5 years), and also pass citizenship and language test.

Citizenship By Investment Units (CBIU)

The Governments, in accordance to the citizenship by investment regulations have established CIU’s as a separate agency to oversee smooth operations and and functioning of CBI programs.

The role of CIUs’ include

  1. Application acceptance approvals
  2. Policy changes and regulations to strengthen the schemes
  3. Approval of real estate projects
  4. Handle due diligence operations of the subjects
  5. Agent and marketing agent approvals
  6. Rules for Marketing and promotion of schemes.
  7. Recommend approved investors for citizenship to the minister
  8. Notify Passport office to issue passport for approved investors.
  9. Organize events and conferences
  10.   Provide training and consultation for agents
  11.   Publishing reports and statistics pursuant to the CBI

You can see the full list here

Q&A

Here you will find some of the commonly asked questions about investment citizenship and passports.

How many CBI programs are the there?

As of today, there are 12 official citizenship by investment programs currently running.

What’s New in 2021?

Due to Covid, the Global demand for CBI programs have soared. Interest is high. Governments have cut prices for families and moved to electronic filing reducing average processing times.

What is the difference between citizenship and residency?

Citizenship by investment leads to instant passport, whereas residency programs will offer you a visa and permanent residence card. Citizenship has become an important status during the Covid pandemic to travel through borders.

What is the minimum investment required?

The minimum investment for citizenship set by Governments is $100,000 plus associated costs and fees.

How to get EU citizenship for investments?

Only Malta and Bulgaria offer citizenship for investments in European Union (EU). These programs are expensive costs close to 1 million euro investment. Montenegro CIP offers citizenship in Europe (as candidate country for EU acquis). Note the difference between ‘EU’ and ‘Europe’.

Citizenship or residency? Which is better?

Citizenships become much cheaper and faster than residence schemes. It saves you money, taking trips and lot of hassles on the long run.  Depending on your current nationality, you have to do proper citizenship planning

Which is the best citizenship by investment program?

We give you quick summary of the CBI programs below

  • Cheapest – Dominica, St Lucia
  • Fastest – Vanuatu
  • Easiest – Vanuatu
  • Best – Malta

What are the benefits of CARICOM passport?

The Caricom passport issued by 15 member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for their citizens. All citizen enjoy free movement within the OECS area with just ID card or drivers license. All five CBI countries issue CARICOM passports.

Are there any age limits for family members?

Yes, main applicants must be over 18 years of age. Dependent children above 30 years cannot be added in family family. Please refer to the rules here

Where can i find legal background to all the CBI programs?

We have compiled here in one place

Where can i find application forms?

You can find application forms free to download. Forms for some countries are not available online. It is only provided by authorized agents.

How do i do the certification of documents?

The credentials of the notary, translator and medical examiner must be provided along with your certified documents. You also need to get apostille or super legalization on your documents.

Can stateless people apply for CBI pograms?

Yes, but only certain countries accept – Turkey, Vanuatu, Antigua, Dominica.

Can i appeal if my application is refused?

Yes you can through the authorized agent. It depends on the program.

Can i get refund if my application is turned down?

The lawyer fee and due diligence and application fee are non-refundable. You only make the entire investment AFTER your file is approved by government.

What is your fee? Are there are hidden or finders fee?

Best citizenship is a free platform. We do not charge any fee to clients. We disclose all prices very transparently to clients. It is pretty straightforward and no hidden fees.

Why genuine link to the country is important?

We tell clients to learn a thing or two about the country before you apply for a passport. Atleast you should know where it exists on the map. A genuine link to the country is very important to strengthen your citizenship status with the country, this way your citizenship is secure and hard to revoke.

You can create genuine link in the following ways: Paying taxes and social security, buying a real estate or permanent home, charity donations and non-profit charity efforts, frequent trips or long periods of living, learning local language, culture and integration to local population etc..

How do i collect passport considering the Covid situation?

Once the process is complete, you can collect your passport at the nearest consulate or embassy of the country you apply.

Are there any military service?

Military service is not compulsory for investment citizens and are exempted from conscription.

Are the borders open for citizens who received passport through CBI?

Yes, citizens are not restricted to enter their own country even during Covid. As a citizen, you must use the same passport to enter and exit the country. You may be required to take quarantine and test.

Common Acronyms

  • CBI – Citizenship By Investment
  • CIP – Citizenship by Investment Program
  • RBI – Residence by Investment (RBI)
  • ECP – Economic Citizenship Program (ECP)
  • CBI/RBI – Citizenship by investment (CBI) and Residence by Investment (RBI)
  • CRBI – Citizenship and Residence by Investment
  • MCBI – Moldova Citizenship By Investment
  • DCBIP – Dominica Citizenship By Investment Program
  • IIP – Immigrant Investor Program
  • TCBI – Turkey Citizenship by Investment
  • CIU – Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU)
  • CBIU – Citizenship By Investment Unit
  • CBIC – Citizenship By Investment Committee (CBIC)