- Why Apply for a Caribbean Passport?
- Visa-free destinations available to the holders of Caribbean passports
- Relatives that can be added to family applications for Caribbean citizenship
- Extradition treaties signed by the Caribbean states offering second citizenship
- Taxation regimes in Caribbean countries offering citizenship to foreign investors
- Caribbean passports’ terms of validity
- Prices for Caribbean citizenship
- Timeframes of Caribbean citizenship acquisition
- Procedures involved in acquiring Caribbean citizenship
- Investment options available to those applying for Caribbean citizenship
- Foreign nationals not eligible for Caribbean citizenship by investment: the black lists
- Who can help you choose the Caribbean country whose citizenship you should apply for?
Whether you would like to retire to a Caribbean island, or buy a house in paradise, or start a business in the region, or simply acquire a second passport without the need to ever visit your second home country – you have several options to choose from. Saint Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Dominica, and Saint Kitts offer their citizenship to foreigners in return for monetary investments. The offering includes second passports and numerous additional bonuses. Even though the citizenship-by-investment programs administered by these Caribbean island nations are similar in many ways, there are some important differences. This article will help you compare the economic citizenship programs available in the Caribbean and choose the one that fits your needs best.
Why Apply for a Caribbean Passport?
Acquiring citizenship of a Caribbean country in exchange for an investment is attractive for several reasons. The popularity of the economic citizenship programs available in the region is steadily growing as more and more wealthy families choose this express route to Caribbean passports for their families. The island states offer multiple benefits to foreign investors that include the following ones:
- A lot of sunshine and picture-perfect beaches;
- Fresh air and unpolluted environment;
- Organic food;
- Rapidly growing economies;
- High-quality offshore banking and an opportunity to manage investments in a low-tax jurisdiction;
- Confidentiality of foreign citizenship acquisition;
- An opportunity to diversify and protect your assets;
- A second passport that gives visa-free access to a large number of countries;
- An opportunity to live on a paradise island or to relocate there in case of emergency.
Five citizenship-by-investment programs are available in the Caribbean at the moment. You should take several important factors into consideration when choosing the best Caribbean citizenship-by-investment program. These include:
- the timeframe of citizenship acquisition
- the level of investment required to qualify for the second passport
- the security and safety on the island
- the strength of the passport in terms of visa-free travel and general credibility
- the taxes
- non-monetary requirements that might be important to you (For example: vaccination requirements or the lack thereof)
Below we provide some figures that will let you compare the citizenship-by-investment programs in the Caribbean and then make the optimal choice!
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Visa-free destinations available to the holders of Caribbean passports
The number of destination states that the Caribbean passport holder can visit without obtaining visas is one of the most important factors for many foreign investors. This is especially true if the investor comes from a country whose passport is comparatively ‘weak’.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), passports of all Caribbean countries running citizenship-by-investment programs give visa-free access to Great Britain, Singapore, Hong Kong, and EU/ Schengen zone countries.
|Country||Antigua and Barbuda||Dominica||Grenada||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Lucia|
|Number of destinations accessible without visas (or with electronic visas/ visas on arrival)||151||143||144||157||146|
We must note that Grenada stands out in the list. This is the only Caribbean country whose passport gives visa-free access to China.
In addition to that, the Grenadian passport gives privileged access to residence in the USA. Would you like to live and work in the United States? Acquiring citizenship of Grenada can be the first step towards this end, as the passport of the country will qualify you for an E2 visa to the USA. This is a non-immigration visa but it will make your extended stay in America legal. What you will need to do is to start a small business in the US or purchase a company there. No other Caribbean state except Grenada offers the opportunity to acquire an E2 visa.
Relatives that can be added to family applications for Caribbean citizenship
All Caribbean states offering citizenship by investment opportunities accept family applications. All of them allow acquiring foreign citizenship for your spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents. Only the ages of the relatives differ from one country to another. In any case, your relatives included in a family application for Caribbean citizenship shall be financially dependent on you as the main investor.
|Antigua and Barbuda||Dominica||Grenada||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Lucia|
|Own and adopted children||+ (up to 30)||+ (up to 30)||+ (up to 30)||+ (up to 30)||+ (up to 30)|
|Parents||+ (55+)||+||+ (55+)||+ (55+)||+ (55+)|
|Grandparents||+ (55+)||+||+ (55+)||+ (55+)||+ (55+)|
|Brothers and sisters||+||+ (18-25)||+ (18+)||+ (18)||+ (18+)|
|Adding a family member to the family application after citizenship has been granted to the main investor||+||+||+||+||+|
Extradition treaties signed by the Caribbean states offering second citizenship
Some investors wish to have foreign citizenship or a legal residence permit in a foreign country to protect themselves from arbitrariness and autocracy of their home country’s authorities.
Before the detractors start shouting about CBI harboring criminals, this is not the case at all. But what if the new government of Afghanistan is seeking your extradition for some religious crime? That would be an extreme example, but it is well known that In some places, the authorities will frame up a case and put forward false accusations, even issuing Interpol warrants, if the person expresses opposing political views. If this is the case, having a country to escape to would be precious for that person indeed. At the same time, you have to be aware that the Caribbean states that we are discussing here have made extradition treaties with the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda: In 1993, the Antiguan authorities passed an Extradition Act that allows extraditing criminals even to foreign countries that have not signed an extradition treaty with Antigua. The country has made such a treaty with the USA and the Organization of American States that includes 35 members. In 2001, Antigua signed an extradition treaty with India.
- The Commonwealth of Dominica: The Government of the country has signed extradition treaties with the USA and some members of the British Commonwealth of Nations including Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and South Africa.
- Grenada: The Grenadian authorities have signed extradition treaties with the USA, China, and the Russian Federation. As the country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, it will extradite criminals prosecuted in other member states.
- Saint Kitts and Nevis: The Government of the country has signed extradition treaties with the USA and some members of the British Commonwealth of Nations including Great Britain, Canada, India, and New Zealand. International legislation is applied as far as extraditing criminals to other states is concerned.
- Saint Lucia: The country has signed bilateral extradition treaties with the USA and France. As Saint Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, it will extradite people fleeing from justice in other member states. The Saint Lucian authorities will reject the request for extradition by default if the person is prosecuted for his/ her political views.
Taxation regimes in Caribbean countries offering citizenship to foreign investors
|Antigua and Barbuda||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Grenada||Dominica||Saint Lucia|
|Requirements for becoming a tax resident of the country||Physical presence in the country for more than 183 days within a calendar year||Physical presence in the country for more than 183 days within a calendar year / Development of a special tax residence program for wealthy individuals is in progress|
|Personal income tax||None||None||Tax rate is 30% (there is a tax-exempt minimum). Residents and non-residents are taxes on their income in Grenada only||Tax rate is between 15% and 35%. Residents are taxed on their global personal income while non-residents are taxed only on the income made in Dominica||Tax rate is between 10% and 30%. Residents are taxed on their global personal income while non-residents are taxed only on the income made in Saint Lucia|
|Capital gains tax||None||Levied only if the property is sold before 12 months of ownership expire. The rate is 20%.||None||None|
|Gift tax||Gifts may be subject to taxes. The rate is between 2.5% and 7.5%.||None||None||None||None|
Caribbean passports’ terms of validity
Obviously, the longer your second passport is valid, the better. The terms of Caribbean passports’ validity are typically five or ten years.
|Type of passport||Term of validity, years|
|Antigua and Barbuda *||Biometric||5 or 10|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Biometric||10|
* The Antiguan authorities will initially issue a five-year passport to the foreign investor and then extend it for ten years. You have to visit the country for the first passport renewal. This requirement has been waived, however, due to the pandemic (see below).
As you can see, all Caribbean states with the exception of Saint Lucia issue biometric passports. This passport type provides for higher security and it carries a microchip containing the passport holder’s biometric data (fingerprints, iris scan, or similar).
Investment Requirement for Caribbean citizenship
Whichever of the five Caribbean countries you select, the required investment amount is going to be the lowest if you choose to make a non-returnable donation to the state funds. It is also possible to make a returnable investment in real estate, government bonds, or a business venture but the required investment amount might be considerably higher in this case. So you will have to decide if you want to hand over a smaller amount of money up front, or invest a higher amount but have an asset you can resell after a few years.
Sometimes, bank or seller financing is available for real estate investments that can reduce the cash outlay. See our article here for more details on Bank Financing of Caribbean Citizenship by Investment
The table below lists the minimum required donation amounts.
|Antigua and Barbuda||Dominica||Grenada||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Lucia|
|Minimum required donation amount||US$ 100,000||US$ 100,000||US$ 150,000||US$ 150,000||US$ 100,000|
These donation amounts hold only for a single applicant for Caribbean citizenship. If a family application is filed the donation amounts will probably increase. In addition to that, you will need to cover the administrative costs that include the government’s application processing fee, the due diligence fee, and the passport issuance fee.
Besides, you should expect to pay legal fees as well. You can’t avoid this cost, as the legislations of all five Caribbean countries require that foreign nationals file applications for citizenship only via licensed agents.
Special Limited Time Offers
The world is going through hard times at the moment and of course, the Caribbean states offering citizenship-by-investment opportunities are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic too. Some countries are offering limited-time discount offers in an attempt to attract foreign investors. The following discounts are available, in particular:
- Saint Kitts has lowered the required donation amount for a family of four from US$ 195,000 to US$ 150,000 (-23%). A family of four can qualify under the donation amount required for a single applicant. The offer is in force until January 2022.
- Saint Lucia offers a 50% discount on the required amount of investment in zero-interest government bonds to those foreign nationals who apply for Saint Lucian citizenship before the end of 2021. The investment requirement has gone down from US$ 500,000 to US$ 250,000. These are sovereign bonds where the capital is fully repayable. You can also borrow against the bonds from financial institutions.
Timeframes for Caribbean citizenship acquisition
You can acquire a Caribbean citizenship, and subsequently your new passport, within very much the same period in all five cases. Please see the table below.
|Antigua and Barbuda||Dominica||Grenada||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Saint Lucia|
|Citizenship acquisition timeframe, months||3-4||3-4||3-6||3-4*||3-4|
* Please note that Saint Kitts and Nevis offers an Accelerated Application Processing (AAP) opportunity that allows acquiring Caribbean citizenship within only 45 to 60 days from the day when you file the application. This will have to come at an additional cost though. The following additional fees are due if you decide to use the AAP scheme:
- Main applicant – US$ 25,000;
- Adult dependent family member (18+) – US$ 20,000;
- Underage dependent family member (<18) – US$ 500;
Acquiring Caribbean citizenship: Step by Step
As far as the procedures that you have to go through when applying for Caribbean citizenship are concerned, they are very much the same in every country. Regardless of which Caribbean country you choose, you will have the following opportunities:
- You can file the application for Caribbean citizenship remotely. You do not have to visit the country neither prior to acquiring its citizenship nor after your second passport has been issued (as it will be sent to you with a courier).
- You do not have to pass any language, history, nor any other tests.
- You can monitor the application processing by keeping in touch with your immigration agent.
- You will have to follow very clear rules when providing proof of the legality of the sources of your investment capital, when supplying the police clearance as well as your medical certificates.
- You will have to make the investment/ donation in the required amount only after the immigration authorities of the country approve your application for citizenship.
There is one exception from the ‘no-personal-visit-required’ rule. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda requires that the new citizen visit the country at least once during the first five years of holding the passport and spend at least five days there. If you fail to meet this requirement, you will not be able to extend your Antiguan passport. The country’s authorities make it obligatory for new citizens to visit Antigua hoping that they will love it there and want to stay on the islands for good – or at least spend a considerable amount of time there. Clearly, a foreign national relocating to Antigua will bring more money to the national economy than the one who simply buys the passport.
Please note that due to the pandemic, the Antiguan authorities have temporarily lifted the requirement described above. The suspension is slated to be in force until August 31, 2022.
Investment options available to those applying for Caribbean citizenship
All the five countries offer at least two investment options each. Wherever you apply for citizenship in the Caribbean, you can make a donation or an investment in real property located in the country. Antigua and Saint Lucia offer some additional routes to their citizenship, however.
Saint Lucia offers four investment options to foreign nationals seeking its citizenship. In addition to making a donation or an investment in real estate, you can invest in a business venture in the country or buy Government bonds. Antigua, in its turn, allows investing in business but not in bonds.
If you are thinking of investing into real estate in order to qualify for Caribbean citizenship, you should consider Saint Kitts first of all. The Government of the country allows foreign investors to purchase any real property in Saint Kitts and Nevis, which will make them eligible for citizenship. The minimum investment amount is US$ 400,000. This is a limited-time opportunity, however, that is going to be available until November 1, 2022. When the world economy recovers from the present crisis, the old rules will return: foreign applicants for citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis will only be able to purchase property that is part of Government-approved development projects.
As far as the other four countries are concerned, they have come up with no limited-time offers similar to the one that Saint Kitts is making. As has always been the case, you can buy Government-approved property only to qualify for citizenship there. The property comes in the form of resort complexes in most cases. The supply is quite short, and there is hot competition in the resort complex development market. Some resorts are clearly much better than others. It’s essential to find an expert with local knowledge to guide you through the process.
Foreign nationals not eligible for Caribbean citizenship by investment: the black lists
You have to be a law-abiding, trustworthy, and well-to-do person if you would like to acquire Caribbean citizenship. However, this is not enough: your present citizenship also plays a role.
Most Caribbean countries offering citizenship-by-investment opportunities will have ‘black lists’ of countries whose citizens are not eligible to apply for Caribbean citizenship. The authorities of each country may put forward different reasons for blacklisting certain national states but the reasons are not as important as the lack of opportunity to acquire a second passport for some people. This is how things stand for now:
- Antigua and Barbuda: The Antiguan black list includes the following countries: Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. Citizens of these countries can apply for citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda by investment if they have lost all economic ties with their home countries and if one of the following conditions applies:
- The applicant left the home country before coming of age;
- The applicant has been a legal resident in Canada, United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, or United Arab Emirates for at least ten years.
- Dominica: The Dominican legislation does not officially prohibit citizens of any country to apply for economic citizenship of Dominica. At the same time, applicants from certain countries will be considered with greater caution. If the level of corruption is too high in a country or if it is under international sanctions, its citizens will find it hard to obtain Dominican citizenship. The list includes the following countries:
- Sao Tome and Principe;
- North Korea;
- Grenada: The Grenadian legislation puts no restrictions on the nationality of the applicants for its citizenship. De jure, any foreigner is eligible to apply provided that he/ she can afford the investment.
- Saint Kitts and Nevis: Afghanis and North Koreans are not welcome to apply for citizenship of the country by investment. This restriction will be lifted if the applicant from one of these countries has been a legal permanent resident in the USA, UK, or Canada.
- Saint Lucia: The Saint Lucian authorities claim that they are unable to process applications for citizenship from Iranians due to some technical issues. The true reason why they would not consider applicants from Iran, however, is the US sanctions regime.
Who can help you choose the Caribbean country whose citizenship you should apply for?
As you can see from the text above, when you scratch the surface there are actually some differences between the five citizenship-by-investment programs available in the Caribbean. However, all the countries will want the foreign applicant for their citizenship to meet the following requirements:
- The applicant shall demonstrate the legality of his/ her sources of income to the satisfaction of the immigration authorities.
- The applicant shall be able to pass the due diligence checks;
- The applicant shall supply medical certificates confirming that he/ she is in good health;
- The applicant shall submit all the required application documents including the domestic passport, the birth certificate, the marriage license, the passport-size photographs, and so on.
- The applicant shall make an oath of allegiance to his/ her second home country.
The foreign investor seeking to acquire Caribbean citizenship has several options to consider. Each national citizenship-by-investment program will have its own advantages and disadvantages. International Wealth and Offshore Pro Group experts will be happy to discuss each option with you in detail and help you make the optimal choice.
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How do I acquire Caribbean citizenship by investment?
It depends on what country you are applying to for second citizenship. Normally, however, you have to 1) have enough money for that for the donation/ investment, 2) be a law-abiding person with legal sources of income, 3) be in good health, and 4) cover the administrative costs associated with processing your application for citizenship. Besides, you will have to hire a lawyer or immigration agent who will help you prepare all the required application documents.
What Caribbean countries offer citizenship-by-investment opportunities?
The following countries in the Caribbean offer their citizenship to foreign investors as things stand for now: Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. According to the latest insider information, the authorities of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are seriously considering the opportunity to launch a citizenship-by-investment program too.
What factors should I consider when choosing the Caribbean country to apply for citizenship to?
Much will depend upon your personal preferences, goals, and opportunities. International Wealth experts recommend that you consider the following most important characteristics of each citizenship-by-investment program when making the choice: the cost of citizenship acquisition, the speed of application processing, the number of visa free destinations that will be available with the Caribbean passport, the requirements for dependent family members, the tax benefits, the passport term of validity, the extradition treaties that the countries have signed, and the available investment options (donation, investment in real estate, in business, or in Government bonds). Please read the article above for a more in-depth answer to this question!