Top Citizenship By Investment Destinations

Top Citizenship By Investment Destinations

10th August 2016

Obtaining secondary citizenship via investment is a worthy cause for HNWIs. However, it can be a confusing task. With a plethora of available investment options, as well as a number of countries to choose from, many HNWIs struggle to decide which citizenship by investment program would best suit their needs.
With this in mind, the following article will lay out what we believe are ten of the best citizenship by investment options currently available for the HNWI looking for the maximum visa-free access to countries opened to them at the lowest cost possible.
So here we go with our first of ten citizenship by investment options (in no particular order):

  • Malta
  • Capital: Valletta
  • Population: 445,426
  • National Language: Maltese
  • Currency: Euro

Malta is a fantastic option for citizenship by investment for a number of reasons. The country itself consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino and all three have their own unique appeal. Malta is the commercial and administrative hotbed, geared toward those seeking a more mainstream and industrial existence. Alternatively, Gozo will appeal to those who appreciate a more rural way of life, with activities such as fishing and agriculture. Finally, Comino is relatively uninhabited with only one hotel and a perfect serenity for those seeking peace and quiet.

Maltese citizenship affords many benefits to the HNWI, including visa-free access to 166 countries. As Malta is a member of the EU, secondary citizenship will open up avenues to travel and work in any EU member. You can also travel to the US with it.
The requirements for gaining citizenship are an investment of USD 1.57 million but when you include fees and other costs you are likely to pay around USD 1.85 million. There is also a requirement to reside in Malta for a “reasonable” period of time – however, it is accepted that you will need not be a permanent resident, so do not worry that you will have to spend over six months residing there. Around 2-4 weeks should be enough to satisfy the requirements.
Although this is one of the more expensive investment options, as a Maltese passport is considered the 8th most valuable travel document possible to acquire, you will be getting what you pay for and more.

  • St Lucia
  • Capital: Castries
  • Population: 183,600
  • National Language: English
  • Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

St Lucia is a visual paradise here on earth. It has all that you would expect from your typical beach location: beautiful bright blue sea views, a tropical climate and palm trees that sway rhythmically to a cool breeze. It is also an adventurers dream with plenty of opportunity for exploration and indulgence in high activity pursuits e.g. rock climbing, water sports and zip lining. It has the perfect marriage of low key relaxation and ways to get your adrenaline pumping.
It is also one of the newest, under the radar and cost effective citizenship by investment programs out there. Introduced in 2016, so far very few passports have been granted. The number of applicants should also be considerably low and so your turn around time for application approval should be faster than other more famous citizenship by investment destinations.
St Lucia secondary citizenship will grant the HNWI visa-free travel access to 121 countries including Sweden or 180 days in the Schengen area of the EU. There are two investment options: either outright purchasing the passport for USD 250,000 or investing USD 550,000 in government bonds for five years. Clearly the investment is the more fruitful option if you have the capital to make it, as you will receive your investment back. This makes St Lucia one of the most attractive of the Caribbean islands in which to gain secondary citizenship.

  • Austria
  • Population: 8,662,588
  • National language: German
  • Currency: Euro

Austria is an affluent country with a large mountainous region. As a result, it attracts many HNWI and other tourists who are seeking a high quality place to hit the ski slopes. The portion of the country which is not caked in snow is also worth a visit – with many hills to explore and beautiful lake views to experience. There are also plentiful museums to visit and amazing architecture to behold for those who are more culturally inclined.

Austria’s secondary citizenship is the most premier that money can buy. With visa-free travel to over 171 countries, it is widely considered the 4th best passport available and the best passport obtainable by investment.
However, it does not come cheap. You are looking of a requirement to invest around EUR 10 million in a business practise which the government approves of – traditionally a business which will provide many jobs for the citizens of Austria and generate taxable income. If you can afford to make an investment of this magnitude, you will be the proud owner of the best secondary passport one can receive via investment.

  • Antiqua and Barbuda
  • Capital: St. John’sPopulation: 91,295
  • National language: English
  • Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Antigua and Barbuda is another tropical paradise. With temperatures generally ranging from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer and annual rainfall averaging only 45 inches, this makes it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands. With an expansive coastline and plentiful coral reef, it would make the perfect place for a fleet to hide themselves – which, in fact, Admiral Horatio Nelson did in 1784. The unique charm of the country attracts sunbathers, snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
Antigua and Barbuda’s secondary citizenship offering is either to make a donation of USD 275,000 or to invest USD 500,000 in real estate. An Antigua and Barbuda passport will gain you visa-free travel access to 132 countries, including Canada.

  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Population: 54, 961
  • National language: English
  • Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Once again, for those who love sandy beaches, St. Kitts and Nevis delivers and then some. What makes St. Kitts and Nevis unique is that the colour of the sands are different in different parts of the country – with black sands in the south which graduate up to white sands in the north. There is also a wide variety of fun activities which utilise the beach environment, such as snorkelling, kayaking, boating, and jet skiing, as well as guided sailing tours, especially off St. Kitts, and windsurfing around Nevis.
The secondary citizenship program offered by St. Kitts and Nevis is the most popular and to date is the bestselling. It is very similar to that offered from Antigua and Barbuda: citizenship can be obtained via a USD 295,000 donation to their sugar fund or a USD 500,000 investment in real estate.
A St. Kitts and Nevis passport will grant the UHNWI visa-free travel to 132 countries, including Brazil, but excluding Canada. If access to Canada is required, then you may be better off with the offering from Antigua and Barbuda which is very similar in investment levels.

  • Bulgaria
  • Capital: Sofia
  • Population: 7, 202, 198
  • National language: Bulgarian
  • Currency: Lev (BGN)

Bulgaria is a hotbed of historical and architectural monuments. Despite the fact that it occupies only 2% of Europe’s territory, about 40,000 historical monuments have been registered in Bulgaria (7 of which are included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage sites), 36 cultural reserves, 160 monasteries, and roughly 330 museums and galleries. For those who want to breathe in a rich and varied culture, Bulgaria is the ultimate destination for sightseers and history lovers.
What is great about Bulgaria’s secondary citizenship program is that if you have the capital available, you can obtain a secondary passport and have your investment returned in full. There are no extra fees for obtaining the Bulgarian passport. All that is required is that you invest EUR 512,000 in government bonds at first, which will gain the UHNWI residency. After one year and another investment of EUR 512,000, citizenship is granted.
As long as you visit Bulgaria twice over these two years, citizenship will be granted and you will have your Bulgarian passport. This will grant access to 149 countries, including the USA (for 90 days). Unfortunately, it does not grant access to Switzerland who recently passed administration restrictions for citizens of Bulgaria.

  • Grenada
  • Capital: St. George’s
  • Population: 109, 590
  • National language: English
  • Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Another Caribbean island full of beaches to enjoy and landscapes to explore, Grenada offers another option for secondary citizenship. Other than the clear blue sea and sand speckled beaches you can expect froma Caribbean island, Grenada has a unique blend of both African and French cultures. The people are famously friendly and if a relaxing day by the beach followed by a dinner looking out onto the ocean with the music of local artists playing in the background sounds like your kind of scene, Grenada is the perfect destination.

Grenada actually temporarily closed its citizenship by investment program from 2001-2013 but has since reopened it. The cost of acquiring said citizenship is relatively cheap for the UHNWI – all that is asked is that you invest USD 250,000 in a government approved real estate project.
Upon receiving a Grenadian passport, you will have visa-free travel to 110 countries which includes the UK, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Panama, and most British Commonwealth nations. It does not however give you visa-free travel to Canada or the US, so for those who are looking to visit these locales, a Grenadian passport may not be for them.

  • Cyprus
  • Capital: Nicosia
  • Population: 1, 141, 166
  • National language: Greek/Turkish
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)

Cyprus has a little bit of just about everything you could hope to experience. For culture seekers, there are enough architectural and historical sites for you to sink your teeth into. The coastline is beautiful and well worth exploration and the capital Nicosia has plenty of bars and restaurants for those seeking dinner and drinks after a long day. Or you could head to the Troodos Mountains for some skiing. There really is something for everybody in Cyprus.
After the country went through a recession in 2013, Cyprus has now began offering a citizenship by investment program with a requirement of making an investment of EUR 2,500,000. This will give you a passport in a country who is an EU member, thereby granting all the benefits that come with that e.g. freedom of movement and freedom of trade.

  • Dominica
  • Capital: Roseau
  • Population: 72, 660
  • National language: English

If you have a love of diving, Dominica is the place for you. In this country, the ocean floor is filled with as many interesting and diverse forms of life as the lands above. With volcanic vents and plunging sea walls, colourful reefs and soft corals, sea turtles and sperm whales, there is a whole world beneath the waters. For those who prefer to keep their heads above ground, there is plenty of opportunity for nature hikes across the landscape. The country is brimming with life, hence why it calls itself: “The Nature Island”.
It is also the least expensive option of all the Caribbean islands for acquiring citizenship by investment. A UHNWI can purchase Dominican citizenship for their spouse and children for only USD 250,000. This in comparison to other Caribbean islands, for example St. Kitts, who would require a USD 295,000 donation to their sugar fund for just a single Dominican passport.
The downside to the cheaper cost is that a Dominican passport only grants visa-free travel to 91 countries, in comparison to St. Kitts 132. However, if the countries you want to gain access to all come under the permissions granted by a Dominican passport then this will be a cheaper and more attractive option for you.

  • Russia
  • Capital: Moscow
  • Population: 144, 192, 450
  • National language: Russian
  • Currency: Russian ruble (RUB)

Russia is huge. With an expanse of more than 17 million square kilometres. Even by plane it takes approximately 10 hours to fly from one end to the other. Much of it is covered in snow, on the other hand, there are free flowing rivers and blood red sunsets. With such a large ground space there is of course much to see and do, and many people to meet and plentiful food and drink to devour. Home to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, the country is brimming with history and culture. Everybody should visit Russia at least once in their lives – and a Russian passport is an excellent document to own.
The Russian citizenship by investment program was only brought into law in late 2014, and so far very few passports have been issued as a result. The requirement that you set up a business or invest in one which will employ a large number of people and generate huge tax revenues for the country is a steep one. Unlike many of the other citizenship by investment programs on this list, it is not simply enough to invest money to qualify for citizenship – you must create new business and new jobs for its citizens.
With visa-free travel to 100 countries, perhaps the main pull to obtaining a Russian passport is by looking ahead into the future. As one of the world’s superpowers, it may prove to be very beneficial to be the holder of a Russian passport a few decades from now.

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