Welcome to Offshore Living Letter, Your #1 Resource for Offshore Diversification

The 3 Best Citizenship By Investment Programs

16 Feb
St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda

The 3 Best Citizenship By Investment Programs

How To Buy A Passport

I have two passports: My U.S. passport, plus an Irish one.

Many folks will wonder why I would go to the trouble and expense of obtaining citizenship from another country… But, to those of us in the offshore world, the benefits of a second passport (and second citizenship) are obvious.

It allows you to live, work, and invest more freely…

With an EU passport, for example—like my Irish one—you can get a job in any EU country, and move around the European Union at will. Stay as long as you like. Make it your forever home, if you want.

And even with the U.K. leaving the EU, with an Irish passport, I can live and work in Britain thanks to the Common Travel Area agreement between the countries that pre-dates their EU relationship.

A second passport can also allow you to visit more places without needing a tourist visa…

My Irish passport came in handy when I had to make a research trip to Brazil…

At the time, U.S. passport holders needed a visa to enter Brazil, but with my Irish passport, I could sidestep this requirement.

Since then, Brazil has changed their visa rules for Americans—but you never know which country will change their requirements in the future.

We all remember the lockdowns and travel restrictions during the pandemic.

Americans were banned from entering Europe and Europeans were banned from entering America.

But because I hold both an EU and a U.S. passport, I was free to enter either jurisdiction. The bigger issue for me at the time was finding flights!

There are three main ways to go about getting a second passport:

(1) You might be entitled to a second passport because of your heritage. Up to 40% of Americans could actually be entitled to a European passport, according to Bloomberg. If your parents or grandparents were born in Ireland, for example, and you can prove it, you will be entitled to Irish citizenship. The same applies in many other countries.

(2) If you live in a country long enough, you will usually be entitled to apply for citizenship after a certain number of years. The length of time varies widely depending on the country…

(3) You can buy second citizenship and a passport.

OK, technically speaking, you are not buying citizenship or a passport. But many countries have so-called citizenship-by-investment programs (CIPs). Make a substantial investment in the country… which can include buying real estate… and you will be entitled to fast-track citizenship.

If you can afford them, these programs grant you a new passport within as little as a few months.

In what follows, I’m going to share with you three of my top places for CIP programs right now…

"The Land of 365 Beaches"

Known for its pristine sands, crystal waters, and celebrity vacationers, the English-speaking two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda lies in the Eastern Caribbean’s Leeward Islands.

As tourism is the major source of income—generating about 60% of the islands’ GDP—this has been called “the Land of 365 Beaches.”

Gaining independence from Britain in 1981, Antigua and Barbuda has developed a reputation for the rule of law and government stability.

It’s also historically been a great place for offshore investment, a second passport, and citizenship-by-investment benefits.

Antigua and Barbuda offers an attractive personal tax regime with no capital gains or inheritance taxes, and no tax on foreign-sourced income.

It has a population of about 100,000 residents, giving it a vibrant economy and lots of potential investment opportunities.

They also have a short application process that can be completed within three to four months, and you can add dependent children under 28 and parents over 55.

You don’t have to travel to Antigua and Barbuda during your application period, and you will not have to do an interview to get approved.

You can choose from four options in this CIP program. To acquire an Antigua and Barbuda passport through the contribution option, the country requires a US$100,000 one-time donation to the National Development Fund (NFD) for a single applicant or a family of up to four members.

Another contribution option is a US$150,000 donation (inclusive of processing fees) to the University of the West Indies Fund.

The real estate investment option requires the purchase of any government-approved property development with a minimum value of US$400,000 and holding title to the same through single ownership.

If you would like to receive your citizenship by investment via owning a business in Antigua and Barbuda, you must invest a minimum of US$1.5 million.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda is very business-friendly and looks at the citizen-by-investment program as a way to promote economic growth through foreign capital…

It also looks to further the infrastructural development of the country and create jobs…

"The Isle Of Splendor"

Dominica—officially the “Commonwealth of Dominica,” to distinguish it from the Dominican Republic, and known as “the Isle of Splendor” in its national anthem—lies in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean.

It’s sandwiched between the French-speaking islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The French were the first Europeans to settle here, and their influence is still strong.

Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment program dates to 1992. For the real estate option, the minimum required investment is US$200,000 and the property must be held for at least three years, which is the lowest among the CIP programs in the Caribbean.

However, if you hold for at least five years, you can resell your property to someone else investing for the CIP program. That feature is unique among the Caribbean CIP countries.

For the donation investment option (a cash contribution to the government’s Economic Diversification Fund), the minimum requirement is US$100,000 for an individual. The amount increases to US$150,000 for a couple and US$175,000 for a family of four. If you want to tack on dependent adult children 18 to 25 years old, it’s US$25,000 each.

For both options, due diligence fees are US$7,500 for the primary applicant, US$4,000 for a spouse, and US$4,000 for any dependents over the age of 16. A processing fee of US$1,000 per application (individual or family group) is also collected and US$250 for each certificate of naturalization.

Generally, the entire process takes about six months. You can expect provisional approval about halfway through, at which time you’ll need to make the agreed-upon contribution or close on the property.

An Ancient European Kingdom

Now, we slip to the other side of the world…

The Republic of North Macedonia, once part of Yugoslavia, is an underrated and under-explored mountainous nation at the heart of the Balkans.

It’s one of the oldest inhabited regions in Europe. Humans have lived here for 7,000 years. The first traces of organized cities date back to 808 B.C., when the dynasty of the Argeads controlled the area…

Throughout history, North Macedonia was controlled by Europe’s mightiest empires. This small country was part of Alexander the Great’s empire as well as the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. It finally gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

In February 2019, the country we formerly knew as Macedonia changed its official name to North Macedonia. This was primarily to please Greece (since there’s a region in Greece named Macedonia) and stop its neighbor from vetoing North Macedonia’s entrance to the EU. Today it’s one of eight EU candidate countries.

North Macedonia has been granting citizenships to applicants who invest a minimum of 400,000 euros in a new business investment that generates at least 10 new jobs since 2016. However, the government began allowing a 200,000 euros donation to an approved development fund as a new option to acquire North Macedonian citizenship.

The application processing time is about 12 months. At the time of writing, there’s no real estate option for this program.

Lief Simon