Honorary citizenship is a status bestowed Vanuatu government on a foreign or native individual whom it considers to be especially admirable or otherwise worthy of the distinction. Awarding Honorary citizenships is purely a political decision.
Law experts argue ‘Honorary citizenship’ does not confer full citizenship rights, generally one of the weaker forms of nationality. It can be revoked anytime, excludes voting rights or political rights or serving the public office of the government.
The Vanuatu Citizenship Act (Cap 112 Consolidated Amendments 2021) grants powers to The President of Vanuatu may on the advice of the Prime Minister confer honorary citizenship to any person on the categories specified below.
- A person who has contributed or will contribute to the advancement and betterment of the development of Vanuatu.
- A person who has been appointed under the Foreign Service Act No. 19 or 2013 as a representative of the government overseas.
The Citizenship Commission shall check the eligibility based on
- No criminal record and
- Must be high standing in his or her community, organisation, society or country
The Vanuatu Citizenship by investment previously under CIIP and VERP were granting honorary citizenship to investors. The revamped Development Support Program (DSP) donation or real estate investment did confer Honorary citizenship to investors until 2019. The Honorary Citizenship” terminology, since then is canceled and removed from citizenship certificates. In an interview to RNZ, the Vanuatu’s Citizenship Commission said issuance of honorary citizenship has ceased, because of the flaw that honorary citizens were issued regular passports , which caused confusion at borders.