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an introduction to
citizenship by investment

What is citizenship?

The concept of citizenship has been around for millennia, as ancient Greek states, like Athens, pioneered the idea of giving individuals citizenship. Citizens in Athens had the right to own property, run for political office, vote on administrative affairs, and fully contribute to the economy. 

Citizens now have full rights within their country, but their status comes with responsibilities such as avoiding any criminal conduct, contributing to the economy, and respecting the rights of other citizens.

Routes to obtaining citizenship

Many consider getting a second citizenship a complex process because most of the routes to becoming a dual citizen are quite long or demand extremely specific requirements. Here are the main routes to acquiring a second citizenship:

  • Naturalisation - the most common, and longest, route to obtaining a second citizenship; naturalisation occurs when a person spends a specific amount of years as a resident of a nation until they can apply to become a citizen under the host country's laws. 
  • Citizenship by Marriage - in most countries, if you marry a citizen of that country then you are eligible to apply for citizenship, either directly or after obtaining a residence permit and then becoming a citizen through naturalisation.
  • Citizenship by Descent - this route is fairly simple, but extremely exclusive. Countries such as Serbia, Ireland, and others offer people with ancestors who were citizens of a particular nation the chance to apply for citizenship. However, proving ancestry can be a complex process depending on the documentation required, and it is very specific to a small portion of the world's population.
  • Exceptional Citizenship - in some cases, a country can grant people Exceptional Citizenship. However, this option is an extremely rare occurrence and usually granted to high-profile people like Tom Hanks, who obtained Greek Exceptional Citizenship for his charity work in the country.
  • Citizenship by Investment - this is the simplest option. Many countries offer investors the chance to obtain citizenship through investing in a nation's economy; this topic is covered in detail below.

What is Citizenship by Investment?

The idea of Citizenship by Investment also stems from ancient times, and the Roman Republic was the first nation to develop it into a route to citizenship.

Those who contributed to the Roman economy under specific requirements were granted citizenship and all the rights that came with it, and the concept holds true today.

Many countries now host what is referred to as Citizenship by Investment Programmes, which are routes to obtaining a citizenship certificate and passport of a nation through contributing to the economy.

The idea is that if a person contributes to a country's economy, they have fulfilled part of their duty as a citizen and hence should be considered one. Their other responsibilities are avoiding criminal activities and respecting the laws and the rights of other citizens. 



Benefits of getting a second passport

Citizenship by Investment is one of the most valuable solutions a person can pursue. The benefits of obtaining a second passport are endless, varying from one person's circumstances to the other, addressing personal pain points and solving distinct problems a person may have. However, here are some major benefits that everyone enjoys which are:

  • Greater safety & security - a second passport is the ultimate contingency plan to mitigate the risk of political or economic turbulence in one's home country. Having a second home means a person can flee to a safe destination along with their family and wealth, ensuring their wellbeing. 
  • Enhanced global mobility - with a second passport in hand, a person widens the possibilities of international travel. As a second passport with a strong list of visa-free destinations makes travel easier.
  • Better investment and tax opportunities - by obtaining a second passport of a nation with a strong economy, commerce, and real estate, a person can broaden their global investment opportunities. Getting a second citizenship of a tax-friendly country also provides HNWIs with more taxation options, alleviating their tax burden. 
  • An elevated standard of living - a second passport opens more doors to healthcare services, luxury living locations, and regions with a higher quality of life or lifestyle.
  • Higher education and employment opportunities - having a second passport means greater opportunities for top tier education and employment opportunities in better schools and companies throughout the world that were previously inaccessible through one's original citizenship. 

How Citizenship by Investment benefits countries

Citizenship by Investment is extremely beneficial to the countries granting citizenship, as it provides the government with significant sums of unencumbered foreign direct investment funds to help develop the nation. 

The Commonwealth of Dominica, for example, previously used funds generated through its Citizenship by Investment Programme to create affordable housing for its residents. The programme is also funding the construction of the country's first international airport, a project that will positively affect its residents' lifestyle and the nation's economy.

The most common types of investment

The most common types of investment

Citizenship by Investment Programmes differ from one country to the next, but the most common types of investment usually fall into five main categories, which are:

Donations or contributions

Many countries grant citizenship to those who donate a minimum amount to a country's economy. The donation option is usually the simplest and most affordable route to obtain citizenship, as, in some countries, the required amount starts at as low as US $100,000. However, donations, by their definition, mean that investors do not get their money back.

Donations are usually made to government-run funds, which the government uses to develop the country. In some cases, a government may create an ad hoc fund to combat economic crisis or natural disasters, such as the St Kitts and Nevis Hurricane Relief Fund, which was a temporary route to citizenship that required a lesser donation than the normal Sustainable Growth Fund due to the country having to quickly rebuild after a devastating hurricane season.

Real estate investments

Investing in real estate is one of the most popular routes to obtaining Citizenship by Investment. Most countries have a real estate option, and many of them allow investors to choose between actual property or buying shares in luxury resorts to obtain citizenship.

Real estate investments are cost-effective in the long run, as investors can resell their properties after a specific holding period set by the government. Investors can even profit off of the property during the holding period by renting it out or receiving dividends. The real estate option is also attractive for larger families.

Government bonds/securities

A couple of countries give investors the option to buy government bonds or securities to obtain citizenship. Government bonds are considered a safer option but do not yield much profit.

Private securities, on the other hand, are higher risk but can achieve a higher return on investment. 

Hybrid investments

This option is unique to Malta's Citizenship by Investment Programme and requires applicants to invest in more than just one route. Applicants will need to invest in real estate as well as donate to the government. 

Establishing a business/job creation

A few countries offer applicants the choice to apply for citizenship through establishing a business. Some countries require applicants to invest a specific amount of capital in their business, while others grant citizenship based on the number of jobs a certain business has created and maintained for a set amount of years. 

Citizenship by Investment countries

Many countries around the world offer their own version of Citizenship by Investment Programmes. As of 2022, eight nations have a route to economic citizenship. The premise remains the same, but the requirements and processing of the programmes differ from one country to the next. 

However, generally, anyone who wants to apply for Citizenship by Investment must:

  • Have a clean criminal background
  • Provide a source of funds for their investment
  • Submit a full application
  • Make a qualified investment
  • Be at least 18 years of age

Malta and Antigua & Barbuda are the only countries from the list below that have a physical residency requirement. No other Citizenship by Investment nation requires applicants to reside or visit the country to obtain citizenship. 

our citizenship PROGRAMMES

Antigua and Barbuda
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Antigua and Barbuda

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda offers a quick and cost-effective route to citizenship. Applicants looking to obtain a second passport from Antigua and Barbuda can choose from four different investment options:

Find out more
  • A non-refundable donation to the National Development Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 
  • A contribution to the University of West Indies Fund starting at US $150,000 for a family of six or more
  • Investing a minimum of US $1,500,000 into an approved business

The University of West Indies Fund option is particularly interesting for large families, making Antigua and Barbuda a financially-friendly option for families with larger compositions. 

  • Visa-free countries: 150 countries, including the EU and UK
  • Processing time: 3-4 months
  • Residency requirement: Five days within five years after obtaining citizenship in order to renew the passport
Dominica
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Dominica

The Commonwealth of Dominica first launched its Citizenship by Investment Programme in 1993 making it the second oldest in the world. It currently offers one of the most economically viable options to obtain a second passport. Applicants can choose between two investment options:

Find out more
  • A non-refundable donation to the Economic Diversification Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 

Dominica's programme provides the most affordable option for single applicants.

  • Visa-free countries: 143 countries, including the EU, UK, and China
  • Processing time: 3-6 months

Residency requirement: None

Grenada
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Grenada

Another Caribbean country with a similar Citizenship by Investment Programme, Grenada, offers HNWIs the chance to obtain a second passport through investing in one of two options:

Find out more
  • A contribution to the National Transformation Fund starting at US $150,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $220,000 

Grenada is unique as its citizens are eligible to apply for the US E2 Treaty Visa, a route to residency in the US limited to few countries. 

  • Visa-free score: 144 destinations, including the EU, UK, and China
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: None
Malta
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Malta

The only European Citizenship by Investment Programme is based in Malta, providing applicants with an opportunity to obtain an EU passport through investment. Applicants who wish to apply to the Maltese Citizenship by Investment must:



Find out more
  • Contribute to the government:
    • EUR 750,000 if they want to obtain citizenship after one year of residence in Malta; OR
    • EUR 600,000 if they want to obtain citizenship after three years of residence in Malta
  • Purchase or rent real estate:
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 700,000; OR
    • Renting real estate for the annual amount of EUR 16,000
  • Donate a sum of EUR 10,000 to a predetermined and approved NGO

Malta has one of the strongest passports in the world, ranking 7th globally, and providing visa-free access to a staggering 186 countries worldwide. It is home to the only EU Citizenship by Investment Programme, which makes it quite unique.

  • Visa-free countries: 186 destinations, including the EU, UK, USA, Canada, and Australia
  • Processing time: 14-16 months
  • Residency requirement: 1-3 years depending on the investment amount
Montenegro
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Montenegro

Located in SouthEastern Europe, the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Programme is the world's newest CBI programme providing applicants with an opportunity to obtain citizenship in a luxury tourist location that is on course for accession to the European Union in 2025. Applicants who wish to apply for the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Programme must:

Find out more
  • Contribute to the government:
    • EUR 100,000 non-fundable donation to the Government Fund of Montenegro
  • Purchase real estate:
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 400,000 on the coast of Montenegro or in the capital of Podgorica; OR
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 250,000 in the northern part of Montenegro

Montenegro provides visa-free access to 125 countries worldwide and it provides access to the USA through the E2 Investor Visa treaty, giving citizens the ability to apply for a non-immigrant visa in the USA. 

  • Visa-free countries: 125 destinations
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: 1 visit required after receiving the approval in principle
St Kitts and Nevis
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St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis was the first nation to introduce what is commonly referred to as a modern Citizenship by Investment Programmes back in 1984. The Caribbean nation's programme has become extremely popular and is one of the most discussed Citizenship by Investment Programmes globally. St Kitt and Nevis offers applicants two different investment options:

Find out more
  • Donating an amount starting from US $150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund  
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 

St Kitts and Nevis has an abundance of real estate options and has the 2nd highest visa-free travel access among the other Citizenship by Investment Programmes. 

  • Visa-free score: 157 destinations, including the EU and UK.
  • Processing time: 4-6 months (2-month expedited processing service is available)
  • Residency requirement: None



St Lucia
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St Lucia

The last of the Caribbean countries that offer Citizenship by Investment, St Lucia provides one of the most cost-effective options for single applicants. The country also offers investors the chance to invest in government bonds, among other options, which are:

Find out more
  • COVID-19 relief bond investment of US $250,000 (limited time offer) 
  • Government Bond investment of US $500,000 
  • Donation to the National Economic Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Investing in Real Estate for no less than US $300,000 
  • Enterprise (business) establishment for at least US $3,500,000 

St Lucia's diverse investment options make it unique catering to various global investors, and its passport falls within the same range as its Caribbean compatriots in terms of global mobility. 

  • Visa-free score: 146 destinations, including the EU and UK
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: None.
Vanuatu
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Vanuatu

The last country on the list is the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. The country offers a simplified route to gaining a second passport, as there is only one investment option currently available:

  • An economic donation of USD 130,000 for a single applicant, or USD 185,000 for a family of four to the Vanuatu Government
Find out more

Vanuatu's second passport programme is unique because it accepts investments in a range of currencies such as the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, and Japanese Yen. It also has a route for applicants to pay with cryptocurrency through its various global agents. The programme is also one of the quickest in terms of processing times, allowing applicants to obtain a second passport within two months. 

  • Visa-free score: 98 destinations, including Japan and Singapore
  • Processing time: 2-4 months
  • Residency requirement: None
Antigua and Barbuda
antigua_mod.jpg

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda offers a quick and cost-effective route to citizenship. Applicants looking to obtain a second passport from Antigua and Barbuda can choose from four different investment options:

Find out more
  • A non-refundable donation to the National Development Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 
  • A contribution to the University of West Indies Fund starting at US $150,000 for a family of six or more
  • Investing a minimum of US $1,500,000 into an approved business

The University of West Indies Fund option is particularly interesting for large families, making Antigua and Barbuda a financially-friendly option for families with larger compositions. 

  • Visa-free countries: 150 countries, including the EU and UK
  • Processing time: 3-4 months
  • Residency requirement: Five days within five years after obtaining citizenship in order to renew the passport
Dominica
dominica_banner.jpg

The Commonwealth of Dominica first launched its Citizenship by Investment Programme in 1993 making it the second oldest in the world. It currently offers one of the most economically viable options to obtain a second passport. Applicants can choose between two investment options:

Find out more
  • A non-refundable donation to the Economic Diversification Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 

Dominica's programme provides the most affordable option for single applicants.

  • Visa-free countries: 143 countries, including the EU, UK, and China
  • Processing time: 3-6 months

Residency requirement: None

Grenada
grenada_banner.jpg

Another Caribbean country with a similar Citizenship by Investment Programme, Grenada, offers HNWIs the chance to obtain a second passport through investing in one of two options:

Find out more
  • A contribution to the National Transformation Fund starting at US $150,000 
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $220,000 

Grenada is unique as its citizens are eligible to apply for the US E2 Treaty Visa, a route to residency in the US limited to few countries. 

  • Visa-free score: 144 destinations, including the EU, UK, and China
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: None
Malta
malta_mod.jpg

The only European Citizenship by Investment Programme is based in Malta, providing applicants with an opportunity to obtain an EU passport through investment. Applicants who wish to apply to the Maltese Citizenship by Investment must:



Find out more
  • Contribute to the government:
    • EUR 750,000 if they want to obtain citizenship after one year of residence in Malta; OR
    • EUR 600,000 if they want to obtain citizenship after three years of residence in Malta
  • Purchase or rent real estate:
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 700,000; OR
    • Renting real estate for the annual amount of EUR 16,000
  • Donate a sum of EUR 10,000 to a predetermined and approved NGO

Malta has one of the strongest passports in the world, ranking 7th globally, and providing visa-free access to a staggering 186 countries worldwide. It is home to the only EU Citizenship by Investment Programme, which makes it quite unique.

  • Visa-free countries: 186 destinations, including the EU, UK, USA, Canada, and Australia
  • Processing time: 14-16 months
  • Residency requirement: 1-3 years depending on the investment amount
Montenegro
Montenegro_Banner.jpg

Located in SouthEastern Europe, the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Programme is the world's newest CBI programme providing applicants with an opportunity to obtain citizenship in a luxury tourist location that is on course for accession to the European Union in 2025. Applicants who wish to apply for the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Programme must:

Find out more
  • Contribute to the government:
    • EUR 100,000 non-fundable donation to the Government Fund of Montenegro
  • Purchase real estate:
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 400,000 on the coast of Montenegro or in the capital of Podgorica; OR
    • Purchasing real estate for the amount of EUR 250,000 in the northern part of Montenegro

Montenegro provides visa-free access to 125 countries worldwide and it provides access to the USA through the E2 Investor Visa treaty, giving citizens the ability to apply for a non-immigrant visa in the USA. 

  • Visa-free countries: 125 destinations
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: 1 visit required after receiving the approval in principle
St Kitts and Nevis
stkitts_banner.jpg

St Kitts and Nevis was the first nation to introduce what is commonly referred to as a modern Citizenship by Investment Programmes back in 1984. The Caribbean nation's programme has become extremely popular and is one of the most discussed Citizenship by Investment Programmes globally. St Kitt and Nevis offers applicants two different investment options:

Find out more
  • Donating an amount starting from US $150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund  
  • Purchasing real estate for no less than US $200,000 

St Kitts and Nevis has an abundance of real estate options and has the 2nd highest visa-free travel access among the other Citizenship by Investment Programmes. 

  • Visa-free score: 157 destinations, including the EU and UK.
  • Processing time: 4-6 months (2-month expedited processing service is available)
  • Residency requirement: None



St Lucia
st_lucia_banner.jpg

The last of the Caribbean countries that offer Citizenship by Investment, St Lucia provides one of the most cost-effective options for single applicants. The country also offers investors the chance to invest in government bonds, among other options, which are:

Find out more
  • COVID-19 relief bond investment of US $250,000 (limited time offer) 
  • Government Bond investment of US $500,000 
  • Donation to the National Economic Fund starting at US $100,000 
  • Investing in Real Estate for no less than US $300,000 
  • Enterprise (business) establishment for at least US $3,500,000 

St Lucia's diverse investment options make it unique catering to various global investors, and its passport falls within the same range as its Caribbean compatriots in terms of global mobility. 

  • Visa-free score: 146 destinations, including the EU and UK
  • Processing time: 4-6 months
  • Residency requirement: None.
Vanuatu
vanuatubanner.jpg

The last country on the list is the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. The country offers a simplified route to gaining a second passport, as there is only one investment option currently available:

  • An economic donation of USD 130,000 for a single applicant, or USD 185,000 for a family of four to the Vanuatu Government
Find out more

Vanuatu's second passport programme is unique because it accepts investments in a range of currencies such as the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, and Japanese Yen. It also has a route for applicants to pay with cryptocurrency through its various global agents. The programme is also one of the quickest in terms of processing times, allowing applicants to obtain a second passport within two months. 

  • Visa-free score: 98 destinations, including Japan and Singapore
  • Processing time: 2-4 months
  • Residency requirement: None