The Vanuatu parliament has passed new amendments to Citizenship act adding a new Real Estate Option (REO) for citizenship by investment. Vanuatu launched Real estate citizenship by investment program on on 23 July 2021 under Real Estate Option (REO). Applicants for citizenship by investment under the REO must invest in a property in a Vanuatu Government Approved Project (VGA Project) in addition to payment of the prescribed fees. This Bill amends the Citizenship Act [CAP 112] (“the Act”). The Real Estate Option Program (“the REO Program”) was passed in Vanuatu parliament and published in Gazette.
What is REO Program?
The REO allows acquisition of Vanuatu citizenship through property investment. This route will officially opens doors to citizenship by real estate investment in Vanuatu.
Minimum USD 200,000 invested in GAP properties.
Applicants for citizenship under the REO must invest in a property in a Vanuatu Government Approved Project (VGA Project) in addition to payment of the prescribed fees.
There are 4 currently approved VGA Projects as follows:
- “Pacific Springs” situated at Rentabao on the island of Efate;
- “Narpow Point Coral Bay” situated at Narpow Point on the island of Efate;
- “FPF Rainbow City Project” situated at Narpow Point on the island of Efate;
- “Milai” situated on the island of Espiritu Santo.
The Real Estate Program that existed in 2014 but was then repealed by Parliament in 2015 now reinstated in 2021. The Vanuatu Government has developed policy through this program to attract both major and minor investors by designating important projects that meet stringent Government imposed conditions as Vanuatu Government Approved Projects (the “VGAP”). Only investing in VGAP projects will make it eligible to become citizen by investment.
The REO scheme aims to maximize economic growth, attracting retired investors or wealthy individuals in the real estate option sector. with a focus on providing the necessary infrastructure to cater for growth of the tourism industry, the major investor will only be allowed to sell constructed houses, apartments and condominiums and will be prohibited from selling vacant land. It will be exclusive, unrestricted, and irrevocable right and option to purchase a property at a fixed purchase price within a specified option period.
The benefits of this REO Program include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) it creates employment opportunities in the ongoing operation of hotels and resorts; and
(b) it creates employment and business opportunities for businesses that supply support services to projects, including food supply, retail, tourism and recreation activities; and
(c) it expands and improves infrastructure including roads, telephones, electricity and water networks; and
(d) it invests in the improvement of access to education and health facilities; and
(e) it increases revenue for the Government derived from: (i) VAT and duty on goods and services consumed in the operation of the project; and (ii) application and processing fees payable under the REO Program; and (iii) increased revenue payable directly to custom land owners from turnover derived from operation of any commercial enterprise on the land contained within the project.
Application for citizenship by an investor under the Real Estate Option Program
(1) The Minister is to prescribe by Regulation, the requirements for an application for citizenship by an investor under the Real Estate Option Program.
(2) The prescribed fees payable by an applicant under the Real Estate Option Program covers the applicant, his or her spouse and 2 children.
(3) The Minister may prescribe additional fees for any other child or resident dependant of the applicant.
(4) The Commission must within 3 months of receiving an application under this section, make a decision on whether or not to approve and grant a citizenship.
The government through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) will conduct due diligence on foreigners who apply under the REO.
The minimum investment requirements for citizenship will be announced soon.