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Citizenship by investment gives individuals and their families endless opportunities, including, but not limited to, global visa- free travel, free, world class education and healthcare, as well as attractive tax benefits. Yet, these programmes can be very expensive. Whilst the prices for citizenship by investment programmes can vary depending on personal circumstances, needs and requirements, we have broken down which programmes are the cheapest depending on the most popular ways people choose to finance it.
In your research you’ll see that most existing citizenship programmes are priced at a minimum of $100,000. What you probably didn’t know is that it’s possible to get a second passport for just $50,000. Wondering how’s that possible?
Earlier this year, the St Lucian government introduced Covid-19 Government Release Bonds, so how are they different from the previous government bond scheme? Well, unlike the previous minimum investment for the government bonds, which was over $500,000, minimum investment into the Covid-19 bonds is only $250,000. In case you don’t know, Government Bonds, otherwise known as Sovereign Bonds, are arguably the safest investment out there. The money is held and fully guaranteed by the government with a fixed interest after a certain holding period.
The difference with investing in government bonds through the countries Citizenship by Investment Programme, is the e bonds are Non-Interest Bearing Bonds. So you will invest $250,000, which will be held by the government for 5 years, and will be guaranteed to be paid back to you in full after this period. What you will have to pay to the government, which is non refundable, is $30,000 government processing fee, a $2,500 due diligence free, which verifies that you do not have a criminal record and that your funds come from a legitimate source, and lastly $5000 in lawyer fees. So in total, this comes to $292,000, and must be held for at least 5 years, after which $250,000 can be taken back out, meaning the total amount paid will be just $50,000, making it the cheapest citizenship by investment option.
Okay, so we have discussed how to get the cheapest passport on the market, but what does it get you? A St. Lucian passport will give you visa free/visa on arrival access to 145 countries, including the EU, the UK, and Ireland. This means you can travel around the world and will never again have to face the hassle, or wait times, of going to embassies, applying for permits and visas, and facing the anxiety of waiting to see if your visa has been accepted.
What’s more the country enjoys favorable taxes with No tax on income from abroad, and no wealth or inheritance taxes, meaning greater opportunities for citizens to utilize better economic planning. So yes, $50,000 might be a lot of money to spend, but think of how much can be saved through utilizing better tax planning options.
If you do not have $250,000 in available capital to invest, there are other ways that are only slightly more expensive, which is by making a donation. The cheapest countries to get citizenship through this method are St. Lucia, through its National Economic Fund and Dominica. For both of the programmes, applicants can make a one time contribution, which is just $100,000 for a single applicant. Whilst $100,000 is the least amount of money that will need to be paid upfront, it is worth bearing in mind that unlike government bonds, these are government donations, as such, you will never be able to get this money back.
When getting citizenship by investment, a lot of individuals will want to include their families or dependents on their application. Yet for families of 4 or more, this can be considerably more expensive. For the above programmes, a family of 4 costs over $150,000 for St. Lucia, and over $200,000 for Dominica. So as you can see, adding your family to your application is not cheap. The cheapest way for a family to get a second passport would be through the Antigua & Barbuda citizenship programme. For an individual with 3 applicants, (.e. a family of 4), the cheapest option would be for the main applicant to pay a $140,000 one time donation. It is worth bearing in mind that this government donation, like that of St. Lucia and Dominica, is non refundable, so this money would not be returned after a 5 year holding period, as is the case when investing in government bonds.
Whilst Carribean CBI programmes are the cheapest, other CBI programmes offer significantly more benefits, such as Malta, a small island located in the Mediterannean.
Malta’s citizenship by investment programme is priced considerably higher than its Caribbean counterparts, both in terms of overall cost and with upfront investment. The costs involved include €600,000 direct investment into Malta’s National Development and Social Fund, with an additional €50,000 for each dependent, a purchase of a property valued at a minimum of €700,000 and a donation to a local charity of at least EUR 10,000, so in total this comes to over € 1.1 million in upfront costs, although it is worth bearing in mind that €700,000 is in property, which after a determined number of years, can be sold.
Whilst it may seem overpriced in comparison to other Caribbean programmes, Maltese citizenship gives access to over 180 countries visa free/visa on arrival, as well as the ability to live, study and work within the European Schengen Area. What’s more, citizens get access to free, world class health care and education systems. The country offers excellent standards of living, and as such has become a much desired country to live in for expats. So yes, it can be seen as expensive, but this programme is the only CItizenship by Investment in the European Union, and subsequently the easiest way to get citizenship.
The costs of citizenship by investment programmes vary greatly depending on the number of applicants, the investment type, and of course the country that you want to gain citizenship from. Whilst some citizenship programmes are cheaper than others, cost should not be the sole factor in deciding what to go for. Each country has its own unique benefits; for example,
Vanuatu, St Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua & Barbuda offer attractive tax incentives for citizens, including tax free living, whilst only Turkey and Grenada grant eligibility to USA’s E-2 visa; only Montenegro allows visa free access to Russia, and Grenada is the only country that allows visa free access to China.
As such, it is important to consider why you are looking for a second passport, what are the benefits you are looking for, and which country will suit you and your families needs best. To get a better understanding of the nuances and differences between the different CBI programmes, contact us to book a free consultation with one of our specialist advisors, who will be able to sit down and help evaluate what is the best option for you.