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Citizenship by Donation

David Bonellie

David Bonellie

Last updated: March 6, 2023

Citizenship by Donation

Citizenship by investment is a process through which individuals can obtain citizenship of a country by investing in its economy or infrastructure. This concept has gained popularity in recent years as more and more countries have started offering citizenship by investment programs to attract foreign investment. 

The citizenship by investment industry arose when St Kitts and Nevis started it all during the 1980’s. Since 1984, when St Kitts launched, many countries followed suit by opening various citizenship programs. Some have come and gone, while others are proving to be multi-decade revenue-generating programs for the government treasury. 

Each country has its unique investment criteria that can qualify investors for citizenship. In the Caribbean, the most popular route is citizenship by donation (or contribution).

Investment Routes to Citizenship

The Caribbean region is one of the most popular destinations for individuals seeking citizenship by donation. Saint Kitts and Nevis were the first, and Saint Lucia was the last to launch their citizenship programs. 

Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Options 

The five countries in the Caribbean offering citizenship by donation include:

There are several investment routes to obtain citizenship by investing in the Caribbean. Some options allow an individual to buy and sell a government approved asset. However, citizenship by donation in the Caribbean is what most clients opt for. 

  • Real Estate Investment: Applicants invest in real estate, where individuals can purchase government approved real-estate projects. The minimum investment amount varies from country to country, but it typically ranges from $200,000 to $400,000;
  • Investment in Government Bonds: Another popular route is investing in government-approved bonds. Typically, the minimum investment amount for this route ranges from $350,000; 
  • Business Investment: Some countries offer citizenship by investment through business investment. Investors can either start a new business or invest in an existing one, creating jobs and contributing to the country’s economy. The minimum investment amount and requirements vary by country but can be as high as $1.5 million; and
  • Donation to Government Funds: All five Caribbean islands offer a route where investors can use a donation to obtain citizenship. The minimum donation amount varies by country but can range from $100,000 to $150,000 for a single applicant.

European Citizenship by Donation 

Malta has its own citizenship program, the Exceptional Investor Naturalization program (MEIN). There is a two part donation requirement as well as an investment into real estate. The donation contribution is a substantial investment, however the applicants receive one of the best citizenships in the world. Malta is a member of the European Union, allowing citizens to live, work and study in any EU member state. 

Citizenship by Donation? I don’t get my money back?

No returns are generated from these funds, and the capital is non-refundable. Therefore they are known as a donation or contributions. Governments use these funds to invest in their projects, such as bulk infrastructure developments (roads, water, electricity), housing projects, or specialized government projects to boost the local economy. 

The non-refundable financial donation is a one-time payment executed upon approval of the citizenship application after the due diligence process. The required donation to obtain citizenship value varies depending on the country, the number of applicants, and their ages.

Citizenship by Donation by Country 

Malta’s National Development & Social Fund

The NDSF citizenship by donation: Part of the financial requirements for Malta’s Exceptional Investor Naturalisation program is a one-time, non-refundable donation to the NDSF of either €600,000 or €750,000. A second donation of least €10,000 to a registered sport, cultural, scientific, philanthropic, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organization or society, as approved by the Community Malta Agency.

There is an additional requirement to invest in real estate for €700,000 or a three year long term lease agreement for €16,000 per annum.

Antigua and Barbuda National Development Fund (NDF)

The NDF citizenship by donation: A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the NDF of a minimum of $100,000 and $125,000 for a family of five (excluding Government fees of $30,000). 

The University of the West Indies (UWI) is second citizenship by donation option. The UWI contribution option requires a minimum donation of $150,000, and it is available to the primary investor and five dependents. The funds will be used to support the University of the West Indies, which has campuses in several Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda. 

Dominica Economic Diversification Fund (EDF)

The EDF citizenship by donation: A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the EDF of a minimum of $100,000 for a single applicant, $150,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $175,000 for a family of four.

Grenada National Transformation Fund (NTF)

The NTF citizenship by donation: A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the NTF of a minimum of $150,000 and $200,000 for a family of four. There is a $25,000 cost for each additional dependent.

Saint Lucia National Economic Fund (NEF) Contribution

The NEF citizenship by donation: A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the NEF of a minimum of $100,000 for a single applicant, $140,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $150,000 for a family of four. There is a $25,000 fee for each additional dependent outside the immediate family and $15,000 for direct family dependents.

Saint Kitts and Nevis Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) Limited Time Offer

The SGF citizenship by donation: A one-time, non-refundable contribution to the SGF of a minimum of $125,000 for a single applicant, $150,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $175,000 for a family of four. There is $10,000 for each additional dependent under eighteen and $25,000 for dependents over eighteen. 

These amounts are valid until June 30th. After July 1st, an individual using the donation route will cost $150,000, and $195,000 for a family of four. 

Calculating A Return on Citizenship by Donation

While the investment does not yield a financial return, there may be other benefits to the investor. The benefits of obtaining citizenship by donation include visa-free travel to numerous countries, tax savings, and better healthcare and education facilities. Additionally, investors can leverage their new citizenship for business opportunities and expand their global network.

Regarding taxes, Saint Kitts and Nevis is an effective tax haven. An investor earning a salary of $500,000 could be paying upwards of $200,000 in tax. Their citizenship by donation can be “paid” off in tax savings within the first twelve months after moving out of their high-tax country. 

For the Antiguan University of the West Indies (UWI) citizenship by donation program, one of the dependent children of the principal applicant or spouse is eligible for a free year of tuition at the UWI. This benefit is available to dependents who enrol in an undergraduate program at one of the UWI campuses located in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago.

Final Thoughts on Citizenship by Donation 

On paper, citizenship by donation does not offer a financial return on investment. However, it provides investors with various dual citizenship non-financial benefits, such as visa-free travel, better healthcare and education opportunities. The citizenship by donation programs make for a hassle free route too quickly and easily obtain your second citizenship and passport.

Contact us to set up a consultation with our expert team. We’ll assist you with all your citizenship and residency needs. 

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

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