While 89% of British citizens would like to own a second passport, only 11% of those surveyed actually do. Though many people are able to acquire dual citizenship by living abroad or as a result of their foreign ancestry, others are able to do so by making an investment in exchange for a second citizenship. This is possible through citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes, where applicants can obtain citizenship of a particular country in exchange for a significant financial contribution to its economy.
According to citizenship experts CS Global Partners, public interest in CBI has seen a tremendous spike over the last few years, which is unsurprising given the multiple benefits of dual citizenship. A second passport could mean the opportunity to fly visa-free to more destinations as each country has a unique travel arrangement with other nations around the world. It also offers a chance for you and your family to live and work in an incredible new location, often with warmer climates and breathtaking natural scenery.
Many countries are embracing citizenship by investment programmes to reap the rewards of a hefty financial boost. These are the top five currently offering the scheme, and how the investment is benefiting their citizens:
St Kitts and Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis is the country that introduce the oldest citizenship by investment programme back in 1984, still running to successfully to this date. The scheme provides you with a second citizenship in exchange for a real-estate investment of at least GBP305,000; a minimum economic donation of £114,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF), or £191,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation. The most straightforward and popular option is SGF.
These schemes aim to develop the economy of the nation, with the Sustainable Growth Fund acting as a successor to the Hurricane Relief Fund. The investments made are used to benefit all the citizens, whether this is through education or healthcare. The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation helps develop economic growth strategies away from the traditional sugar cane industry by investing in entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized businesses.
St Kitts and Nevis is also the only CBI jurisdiction to offer an Accelerated Application Process (AAP), ensuring the passport is delivered in as little as 60 days. Key benefits of the programme include visa-free travel to almost 160 countries and territories. Though some exceptions may apply, St Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by investment programme is currently closed to citizens of Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran.
Since restructuring and relaunching its CBI programme in 2013, Grenada has been popular with people hoping to obtain a second passport. This is the only one in the Caribbean to offer visa-free travel to China and holds an E-2 treaty status with the United States, making it easy to enter and work in America.
The fastest route to citizenship is a donation of at least £114,000 to the country’s National Transformation Fund, which aims to make Grenada’s economy more resilient and prosperous. Investments are used to provide funding to the agricultural sectors and industries like sustainable development, while also offering grants in education and youth training. This funding is also used to promote tourism in Grenada, and the country saw a 27% increase in visitors in 2018 compared to the previous year.
This boost in tourism can be used to entice investors specifically for the growing demand. You may choose to make a joint investment in tourism accommodation for £168,000, or can even invest independently in real estate, at a cost of £305,000.
Investors in Dominica can take advantage of living amongst stunning scenery like the Morne Trois Pitons National Park and the world’s second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake. The cost of living is also much more affordable in comparison to the UK, being 36% cheaper than in London.
The CBI programme offers one of the most affordable economic citizenships you can obtain, accepting an investment of £152,000 in real estate, or £76,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund. This scheme is in place to benefit the local community by sponsoring and developing the education, tourism, and industrialisation sectors. The investment was recently used to help the island recover after being hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and funded the swift regeneration projects. This has meant the tourism industry hasn’t suffered major setbacks, and has helped to safeguard the lifespan of businesses—and investments—across the island by “building back better” – a construction code that makes buildings and infrastructure hurricane-proof.
Gaining St Lucian citizenship means gaining access to the Commonwealth of Nations, CARICOM, and the International Organisation of La Francophonie. Though there are no residency requirements, you must take the Oath of Allegiance in Saint Lucia or before any Saint Lucian Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate.
To apply, you must invest £229,000 in government-approved real estate—which must be held for at least five years—or donate a minimum of £76,000 to the National Economic Fund. This scheme was created to fund government-approved projects that benefit the local community and safeguards St. Lucia’s economy. These projects could include things like infrastructure and buildings, maintaining agriculture, or even funding research institutions and facilities.
The St Lucia passport offers you benefits such as visa-free travel to around 150 countries, including the UK, Hong Kong, and Singapore. There is also no requirement to live in the country at any time during or prior to the application process.
Antigua and Barbuda
With an abundance of sandy beaches, citizens of Antigua and Barbuda can also enjoy visa-free access to 133 countries around the world, including the Schengen countries for three months. However, this duration must be within six months of first entering any EU country. The country is perhaps one of the safest in the Carribbean, with a friendly local community, and you can secure the right to pass your citizenship on to future generations.
In order to gain citizenship to Antigua and Barbuda, you can make a contribution of at least £76,000 to the National Development Fund or invest a minimum of £305,000 in government-approved real estate. However, you are also able to invest £1,140,000 in a pre-approved business, or £305,000 as a joint investor, with a total investment of £3,820,000.
Alternatively, you may invest £114,000 in the West Indies Fund, which finances the University of the West Indies’ fourth campus in Antigua and Barbuda. You must apply with at least three dependants, one of whom will be entitled to a one-year tuition-only scholarship at the university.
Though most programmes do not require you to have spent any time in their nation of choice, you (but not your family) must spend at least five days in Antigua and Barbuda over a five-year period.
With these five nations offering significant travel benefits, appealing business prospects, and brilliant quality of life, investing in second citizenship may be the most worthwhile investment you could make.