The Cheapest Citizenship by Investment Programs
Thousands of high-net-worth individuals invest in a second citizenship and passport each year. Countless benefits and reasons range from visa-free travel, tax optimization, access to healthcare, business opportunities, and political stability. There are about a dozen globally recognized citizenship by investment programs, some cheaper than others but offer very similar options.
This article will delve into the cheapest country to buy citizenship.
What is Citizenship by Investment
Citizenship by investment is a process whereby individuals can obtain citizenship in a foreign country by investing significantly in that country’s economy or infrastructure. Countries offering citizenship by investment are looking to attract foreign investors and can provide a way for individuals to gain a second passport. These citizenship countries can increase government revenues, sometimes contributing more than 50% of annual GDP.
The programs offer advantages such as increased travel freedom, tax benefits, and access to better education and healthcare systems. The requirements and benefits of citizenship by investment programs vary depending on the country offering the program. Some countries offer citizenship to investors who make a substantial financial contribution, while others require investment in specific industries or sectors of the economy.
A second investment program are the Golden Visa investment programs. The Golden Visa allows an investor to obtain residence in the country. Residence may be temporary (renewable) or permanent if the holders do not sell their investments. To get citizenship, investors must spend time in the country yearly or demonstrate proficiency in the local language.
The cost of programs varies across the board. Buying cheap passports for $100,000 plus fees is possible while other passports can cost over €1 million. However, always remember that individual finances are subjective. The cheapest passports may not suit the needs of an individual, and the most expensive country to buy citizenship may not suit even the wealthiest investor. At times investors use citizenship by investment to create a passport portfolio. By investing in various programs around the world, investors can use the benefits that come with multiple citizenships and passports.
Overview of the Cheapest Citizenship to Buy
The cost breakdown of a citizenship by investment program can vary significantly depending on the country. The investment cost, or “base cost,” as commonly known, is the highest cost that an investor experiences. The cheapest citizenship by investment programs can reduce the overall costs by reducing the ancillary costs to the investor.
However, here is a general breakdown of the types of fees that may be associated with a typical citizenship by investment program:
Investment Criteria or Government Contribution
The most significant component cost of a citizenship by investment program is typically the contribution or asset investment required to qualify for the program. The investment amount can vary greatly, ranging from around $100,000 to several million dollars, depending on the country and the program. Sometimes, the investment may be a donation to the country’s government or a specific government-approved project. In contrast, in other cases, it may involve investment in real estate or a business.
Due Diligence Fees
Many citizenship by investment programs requires applicants to undergo a thorough background check and due diligence process to ensure they do not have a criminal record or other disqualifying factors. The cost of the due diligence process can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the country and the complexity of the applicant’s background.
Legal and Professional Fees
Applicants may also need professional services to guide them through the application process and ensure all requirements are met. Additionally, it is advisable to use qualified legal council to ensure the investor complies to all legal requirements with regards to immigration and citizenship. A lawyer can also review any contracts that the investor needs to sign to ensure that their investment is safe. The cost of legal fees can vary greatly depending on the application’s complexity and the lawyer’s experience.
Government Processing Fees
In addition to the investment and due diligence fees, many citizenship by investment programs also requires applicants to pay government processing fees. These fees can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the country and the program.
There may be additional fees associated with citizenship by investment programs, such as fees for medical examinations, certificates of naturalization, passport, and insurance. It’s important to note that the total cost of a citizenship by investment program can be substantial, and applicants should carefully consider all fees and expenses before deciding to apply.
Citizenship by Investment Around the Globe
Sometimes, the cheapest citizenship by investment won’t be the best option for an investor. Similarly, at times the most expensive citizenship by investment program will not fit an investor’s strategy. The program descriptions below indicate most citizenship and golden visa programs. The experience of the Global Residence Index management team allows clients to feel at ease knowing they will receive the best advice for citizenship based on their unique circumstances.
Cheapest Country to Buy Citizenship in Europe
The cheapest citizenship by investment program in Europe is North Macedonia. The landlocked Balkans country offers citizenship for investors using two different options. The following investment options are available:
- Є200,000 investment per applicant in a private investment fund established per the laws of the Republic of North Macedonia;
- Є400,000 investment per applicant in new developments and employing at least ten people for at least one year. Restaurant and shopping center developments are not permitted; and
- There are due diligence and processing fees. Є50,000 for the principal applicant. Є20,000 for their spouse, and Є10,000 per dependent child.
Although the program is the cheapest existing program in Europe, it comes with a few potential problems. The government needs to be faster with processing applications, and sometimes can take years to receive approval. For this reason, we do not actively suggest this program to clients at this stage.
Based on the above caveat to the North Macedonian program, Malta is the cheapest country and most expensive to offer citizenship by investment in Europe. Maltas’ Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN) program allows investors to become full European Union member citizens after holding a twelve-month residence permit. The cost is substantial (for some, not so for others).
The investment criteria include the following:
- €600,000 non-refundable contribution for a primary applicant for a minimum residence period of thirty-six months or €750,000 for a minimum of twelve months;
- The purchase of residential property in Malta of at least €700,000. A property lease for at least €16,000 per annum;
- A donation of €10,000; and
- €50,000 additional non-refundable contribution per applicant.
A few additional costs for investors in the MEIN program include the following:
- Residence application fees cost €10,000, which is a non-refundable investment from the principal applicant, and €1,000 per dependent;
- Due Diligence Fees: €15,000 for the main applicant and€10,000 for adult dependents over 18 years old; and
- Administrative fees are €1,500 per applicant.
Cheapest Citizenship by Investment in the Caribbean
The Caribbean islands offer an array of potential cheap passports for investors. The five islands allowing investors to obtain a second citizenship by investment include:
- Antigua and Barbuda;
- Commonwealth of Dominica;
- Republic of Grenada;
- Saint Kitts and Nevis; and
- Saint Lucia.
Each country provides various investment options catering to the different types of applicants. Concerning the cheapest citizenship to buy, we’ll consider three scenarios. The first is a single applicant for all programs and listed fees payable to each government. Additional professional and legal fees are not included.
The second is a family of four, and the third is a family of six applicants for the selected cheapest country to buy a passport. This method provides clarity for the cheapest passports available.
Cheapest Passport for a Single Applicant
The Dominican Economic Diversification Fund is the cheapest passport for a single applicant. Investors will need to cover the total government costs of around $108,750. The cheapest citizenship by investment passport provides visa-free travel to the UK, EU’s Schengen, China, and Russia. The combination of visa-free access is an excellent option for global businesspersons.
Commonwealth of Dominica
Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) all cost $108,750
- Non-refundable contribution of a minimum of $100,000;
- Due diligence fee of $7,500;
- Government processing fee of $1,000; and
- Certificate of naturalization fee $250.
National Economic Fund (NEF) all cost $110,250
- A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the NEF of a minimum of $100,000;
- Due diligence fee of $7,500;
- Government processing fee of $2,000; and
- The passport registration fee is $750.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) Limited Time Offer all in cost $133,250 ($158,250 from 1 July 2023)
- The SGF requires a minimum of $125,000;
- Due diligence fee of $7,500;
- Application fee of $250;
- Passport fee of $450; and
- Certificate of Registration, stamp fee $50.
Antigua and Barbuda
National Development Fund (NDF) all in cost of $137,800
- A one-time contribution to the NDF of a minimum of $100,000;
- Due diligence fee of $7,500;
- Government processing fee of $30,000; and
- The passport fee is $350.
National Transformation Fund (NTF) all in cost of $158,275
- A donation to the NDF of $150,000;
- Due diligence fee of $5,000;
- Government processing fee of $1,500;
- Application fee of $1,500; and
- Oath of allegiance and passport fee $275.
*Costs above do not include professional and legal fees.
Cheapest Passport for a Families
Family of Four
Earlier, we spoke about how the citizenship programs may best suit different types of investors. Although a single applicant may opt for Domnica, a family of four will differ. Antigua and Barbuda’s base cost of $100,000 plus a $30,000 government processing fee is the same for a single applicant as it is for a family of four. There additional due diligence fees and passport fees will apply per applicant. Due diligence fees cost $2,000 for a child aged twelve to seventeen and $4,000 for children older than seventeen.
To give a cost comparison of the five Caribbean countries for a family of four, see the list below. The assumption is that the primary applicant has a spouse and two dependent children who undergo due diligence as adults.
The cost for the cheapest passport for a family of four is going to be around $152,200. The Antigua and Barbuda citizenship program is vastly better for families to apply for as the cheapest passport to buy.
- Antigua and Barbuda $152,000;
- Saint Lucia $190,500;
- Saint Kitts and Nevis $192,500;
- Dominica $199,500;
- Grenada $235,100:
Cheapest Passport for an Extra Large Family
Antigua and Barbuda is the cheapest option for an extra-large family. The program’s University of the West Indies (UWI) investment is available for families of six people for a $150,000 base cost. The total cost, including government-associated costs, is around $183,000.
Cheapest Country to Buy for the Rest of the World
An option to consider for a cheap passport outside of Europe and the Caribbean is the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. The island’s citizenship by investment is relatively well-priced and is one of the cheapest passports to buy.
The donation to the Vanuatu Development Support (VDS) Program costs $135,555 for a single applicant.
- A one-time contribution to the VDS program of $130,000;
- FIU Due diligence cost of $5,000;
- Application fees of $250;
- Citizenship fee $260; and
- The first-time passport application fee is $45.
Why Would I Invest in the Cheapest Passport
Dual citizenship and having multiple passports are potent tools for anyone who understands how to use them best. There are benefits across the board. There are a few warning signs to getting a second citizenship, and an applicant may think twice before going down this path. These include global taxes (US), compulsory military conscription, and countries under severe international sanctions. Luckily, the vast majority and even cheap passports do not have these red flags for citizenship.
A second passport can provide greater travel freedom and visa-free access to various countries. Even for a US passport holder, there are countries that a Caribbean can offer that the US cannot. This can be especially beneficial for frequent travelers or those who do business internationally.
A second passport can open new business opportunities and facilitate international trade by providing access to new markets and business networks. Becoming a European Union citizen opens up an incredible opportunity, and the same can be said for a Caribbean and Turkish passport. The Caribbean countries are part of the OECS and Saint Kitts and Nevis CARICOM in South America.
A second passport can be a valuable tool for tax planning, as some countries offer tax advantages to their citizens or residents. Obtaining a second passport through citizenship by investment program can help tax planning for US citizens. Some countries offer tax advantages to their citizens or residents. It’s important to note that US citizens are subject to certain tax and reporting obligations regardless of where they hold a passport or where they reside. The US has a citizenship-based tax system.
Security and Political Stability
A second passport can provide security and stability in uncertain political or economic times. It can also offer a backup plan in case of emergencies or political unrest.
Education and Healthcare
A second passport can provide access to better education and healthcare systems in other countries, which may be necessary for families with children or those with specific healthcare needs.
Comparison of the Cheapest Citizenship by Investment
The citizenship by investment industry successfully offers investors options for purchasing a cheap passport. Each program has criteria to better suit a single applicant or families of varying sizes. Investors can use the Global Residence Index Passport Comparison Tool to determine the best country for their needs.
Single applicants can use Dominica for the cheapest citizenship to buy. Saint Lucia is a very close second, only a few thousand dollars more. Investors can use either interchangeably, looking at the processing speed, visa-free countries, and what the country is like to visit. Visiting or even moving temporarily to the place of your citizenship is something worth doing in the long term.
Of course, personal reasons to invest in citizenship need to be considered. Malta is by no means a cheap passport to buy. However, citizenship has significant benefits that any other country cannot match.
Families can look to Antigua and Barbuda for cheap passports when breaking down the cost per applicant. The individual price for a family of six applying through the UWI route is just over $30,000 per applicant.
If you are interested in investigating the cheapest passport to buy, book a free consultation with us.
What is the cheapest passport to buy for a single applicant?
Dominica is the cheapest, closely followed by Saint Lucia citizenship by investment.
Why would I buy an expensive passport such as Malta?
Maltese citizenship comes with many benefits. The country is a full EU member state, allowing citizens to live, work and study in any other European country.
What citizenship is cost-effective for a large family of six?
Antigua and Barbuda is an excellent option for large families. The UWI program is specifically designed for families of six or more.
Are there other options available outside of the Caribbean and European Union?
Yes. Vanuatu is a relatively cheap passport to buy and offers outstanding tax incentives for its citizens and tax residents. North Macedonia is a European country and European Union candidate country. It offers a citizenship by investment program. However, the processing could be more efficient.
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