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What countries offer citizenship by investment in real estate and how much does it cost?

PUBLISHED: 8 November 2021

Fortunately, it has been long since people got criticised by our society for obtaining a second passport to work, study or simply live abroad. Besides, laws of a large number of former Soviet republics permit multiple nationalities.

As a rule, wealthy people tend to choose European countries with the highest quality of life, the UK or the US for their new country of nationality. However, not all the jurisdictions will readily and quickly grant citizenship to such a person, even though the applicant can invest millions in the national economy. Most European countries will require you to stay in their territory for 5 to 12 years, learn the language, get integrated in the society and obtain permanent residence before being allowed to apply for naturalisation.

A good alternative is a few countries offering state investment programmes, under which you get a passport for contribution to the national economy – these programmes are called citizenship by investment programmes and economic citizenship programmes.

What are the benefits of economic citizenship?

  1. Applicants for citizenship by investment consider their second passport first and foremost as an opportunity to travel around the world on a visa-free basis. As a rule, those who have multiple nationalities can visit 150-180 countries without a visa or enjoy a simplified procedure. And if you have an EU passport, you are not only allowed to visit the member states, but also live, work or receive a high-quality education in any of them.
  2. Second citizenship usually makes it easier to buy and own a property, cars and yachts abroad.
  3. Second nationality will give you the opportunity to deal with large international banks, and as an add-on, you will be able to keep and increase your assets.
  4. Your children will enjoy a unique opportunity to receive a modern and high-quality education in the world’s best educational institutions.
  5. A resourceful person might use a second passport to promote their business in the international arena. They will be able to enjoy various tax benefits and optimise the company’s expenditure.
  6. A second passport will make it easier for you to leave your home country in the case of economic or political turmoil there.
  7. Finally, second citizenship by investment gives you an opportunity to relocate to another country, a safer and more comfortable one. You will have virtually the same status as the nationals and, in contrast to a residence permit, there is no need to regularly extend your passport.

How can I get citizenship by investment?

How can I get citizenship by investment?

In Europe, an applicant for economic citizenship is supposed to make a complex investment which consists of 2-3 parts of those mentioned below:

  1. Non-refundable contribution to a national development fund.
  2. Buying or renting an expensive residential property that must be retained by the applicant for at least 5 years.
  3. Participation in a costly business project or investment in local companies.
  4. Donation to an NGO which is officially registered.

Citizenship programmes of small Caribbean island states do not impose any strict requirements on the investor. You may choose one of the following types of investment:

  • Non-refundable contribution to a government or education fund.
  • Acquisition of a property.
  • Business investment (available in several jurisdictions only).

Why is it advisable to get citizenship by investment in real estate?

Experts at Imperial & Legal can put forward at least 4 serious arguments in favour of buying a property to get citizenship.

Reliability

In contrast to stocks and shares, properties such as a house, a flat, a plot of land or a share in a resort business are bricks and mortar. Such property is not subject to stagnation or depreciation in countries with high quality of life and regions focusing on tourist industry.

Refundability

Unlike non-refundable contributions to various foundations and rental payments, investment in a property to get citizenship can be recovered as soon as the required period is over, that usually happens in 3 to 7 years.

Profitability

There is usually a high demand for property in the countries which offer citizenship by investment programmes, so you will not only get the funds you have invested back, but also make some profit on selling it when time comes. In Caribbean jurisdictions, investors are allowed to let the property out, including with the help of a management company, so you will both recover the maintenance costs and get some additional monthly income.

Convenience

If you are applying for a second passport to relocate to a foreign country, buying a property will be killing two birds with one stone: you will both fulfil one of the requirements under the investment immigration program and ensure you have accommodation in your new country of residence.

Even when it comes to the Caribbean countries, where this type of investment does not mean that you have to buy an entire real estate unit, new nationals can get an enormous discount or even stay free of charge if and when they stay in the hotel they invested in.

citizenship by real estate

What countries offer citizenship by investment in real estate/buying a property?

According to our experts, the most attractive terms of getting citizenship by investment in real estate of all those which are currently available are offered by 7 jurisdictions – two European countries and five Caribbean states.

CountryBenefits of the programme
MaltaEU passport after staying 1-3 years in the country as a resident.  Breathtaking travel opportunities: visa-free access to the UK and the US, the right to live in any EU member state without any restrictions imposed
MontenegroThe most available solution in Europe. A candidate for EU membership
St. Kitts & NevisThe longest running and the most tried-and-tested investment immigration programme in the world. Favourable participation terms. Visa-free access or access under a simplified procedure to 157 jurisdictions
DominicaGood living conditions and attractive business environment. Favourable terms of participation in the programme. Visa-free access to 143 states
GrenadaAccess under simplified procedure to 144 jurisdictions and the right to get a special US E2 business visa
Antigua and BarbudaA passport of this jurisdiction ensures visa-free access to 151 countries
Saint LuciaFavourable business environment. Visa-free access or access under a simplified procedure to 146 countries

Malta citizenship by investment in real estate

According to the new rules, you may apply for European citizenship and an EU passport in 1 or 3 years’ time after you have been granted a residence permit. The investment necessary to obtain a Maltese passport consists of several parts:

  • €600,000-750,000 (depending on the period of time prior to the application) – a non-refundable contribution to the national development fund.
  • €10,000 – donation to a charity.
  • €700,000 – acquisition of a property on one of the Maltese islands.

The property which you have bought to get citizenship by investment must be retained for at least 5 years.

Montenegro citizenship by investment in real estate

Just like in Malta, the investment that you have to make to be granted a Montenegrin passport consists of several parts. However, in contrast to the island of the knights, this small and picturesque country grants its citizenship for a much lower price, and an investor can get naturalised in just six months.

In order to participate in the Montenegro citizenship by investment program, you will need to:

  • make a non-refundable contribution of at least €100,000 to the national fund for economic development;
  • acquire a property in one of the government-approved real estate projects for €450,000 if the project is launched in a coastal region, or for €250,000 if it is a ski resort development project in the north of the country. This real estate unit must be retained for at least 5 years; then you are free to sell it and recover your money.

Caribbean citizenship by investment in real estate

Caribbean citizenship by investment in real estate

Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes will also allow you to get a second passport by acquisition of a property in the country. As a rule, people do not invest in a whole house or an apartment but choose to buy a share in a beauty parlour, a hotel or a resort under construction. The real estate unit must be retained for at least 3 to 7 years, depending on the country and the sum of investment. The investor may appoint a management company to let the property out and get a small but stable monthly income.

The investment amount varies greatly depending on a jurisdiction and a number of applicants, but usually the sum required to get citizenship by investment in real estate in these countries is considerably less than that required under similar European programmes.

Another significant advantage of investing in a Caribbean passport is that a processing time for citizenship is rather short (3 to 5 months) and that you are not required to be present on the island. The only exception is Antigua and Barbuda where you will need to spend at least 5 days in the first five years after obtaining a passport.

Country

Investment in real estate

The minimum period you must retain the property for

St. Kitts and Nevis

$200,000

$400,000

7 years

5 years

Dominica

$200,000

3 years

Grenada

$220,000

3 years

Antigua and Barbuda

$200,000

5 years

Saint Lucia

$300,000

5 years

Note: The amounts which are mentioned in the table are necessary investments in real estate by one applicant (or one of a group of investors), processing fees are not included.

Our advisers have vast experience in addressing issues relating to investment in real estate abroad as well as to getting multiple citizenships by investment.

If you are thinking about investment in a second passport and feel like avoiding any unnecessary risk, book a consultation with immigration advisers at Imperial & Legal. We will help you find the way which will best meet the requirements and expectations of you and your family.

FAQ about second citizenship by investment

Do I have to stay in Malta before applying for citizenship by investment?

According to the Maltese immigration legislation, there is no minimum time you are required to stay before filing your application, but you will still have to visit the Maltese islands several times. First, to obtain a residence permit by investment: to choose the property, to have your biometrics taken and to get a residence permit. Second, when you have applied for citizenship, you will have to find and buy an expensive property, either on your own or with the help of an authorised legal company, take the Oath of Faith or Allegiance and get your passport.

So, the answer to the question is no, you do not have to stay several years in Malta to get citizenship by investment. However, in contrast to the majority of the Caribbean jurisdictions, you will not be able to get your Maltese passport without visiting your new country of residence.


What other EU member states offer citizenship by investment in real estate?

Unfortunately, currently there is no viable alternative to the Malta citizenship by investment programme in the EU. Cyprus used to have a long-running citizenship by investment programme, but the programme stopped accepting new applications for an indefinite period.

If you do not mind waiting for 5-6 years, you will enjoy more opportunities to get EU citizenship by investment in real estate. For example, you participate in the Portugal residence by investment programme, provided you have invested €350,000 in real estate. However, during the 6 years prior to filing your application for citizenship, you will have to stay in the country.


Does an investor have to visit the Caribbean islands to find a suitable property to get citizenship?

No, they do not. You do not have to drop everything and fly halfway across the world in order to invest in one of the resorts, either existing or under construction. The legal company acting as an agent of the citizenship by investment programme will choose the best offers for you and will provide the most complete information about all those you are interested in.


Given that the entire process of obtaining a Caribbean passport is remote and is conducted through an intermediary, how can I protect my money from fraudulent activity?

In order to rule out possible participation of any fraudulent organisations or unreliable developers in the investment programmes, the Caribbean authorities have taken a wise decision to keep under control the entire chain of mediators and other involved people.

  1. Government departments responsible for citizenship by investment programmes do not directly contact the applicants. This option is not even included in the immigration legislation. A potential investor must get in touch with a legal company which is an authorised agent of a Caribbean citizenship by investment programme. The mediator collects and prepares the necessary evidence and undertakes preliminary due diligence checks of the client, which results in a considerable reduction in the number of refusals.
  2. Only developers who have passed the thorough checks performed by the authorities will be allowed to participate in the investment programme. The list of the units approved by the government for investment may be provided by an agent of the programme. Brief information regarding the approved real estate units to invest in to get citizenship is usually available on official websites.

What Caribbean countries offer citizenship by investment in real estate on the best terms for one applicant?

In order to find the right answer, it is necessary to consider not only the investment amount, but also all the additional fees, as well as terms of participation.

If you have a look at the table in the article, you will see two jurisdictions – St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, where the minimum investment in real estate is only $200,000. However, in Dominica, you can recover your money in 3 years’ time, while in St.Kitts and Nevis you will have to wait for as long as 7 years. In addition to investment in real estate, an applicant must pay passport fee, due diligence fee, the government fee and taxes. All those costs may often account for 40% of the main investment. The exact sum to a great extent depends on the number of family members included in the application.

It is more suitable for one investor to purchase a property in Dominica because your costs including all the additional fees will be about $234,950, while in St. Kitts and Nevis you will have to pay $242,550.

Experts at Imperial & Legal put a special emphasis on the fact that our clients are rarely guided only by the low cost of participation in a programme while choosing a suitable jurisdiction to obtain second citizenship by investment in real estate. All the factors are considered: reliability of a programme, geographical position of the islands, the number of countries you can get visa-free access to, the processing time, the right to stay, climate, private circumstances of the family, etc.

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