A growing number of nations worldwide are allowing wealthy foreigners to buy citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes, where money — normally invested in real estate — can actually buy a second passport. Other programmes offer “residence by investment" (RBI) schemes in exchange for similar investments.
Depending on the country the price tags vary at times wildly. While some countries ask excessive amounts, others offer a far more affordable, fast-track system that enables foreigners to get a second passport.
Below is a list with the 10 cheapest citizenship by investment programmes around the world according to data by Henley & Partners, CBI Index, Knightsbridge Capital Partners and Yahoo Finance.
Currently, the cheapest citizenship by investment programme is offered by the Common Wealth of Dominica in the Carribean with investment of $100,000 for an individual applicant. Dominican passport offers visa-free access to more than 110 countries.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis established the world's first citizenship by investment programme (CIP) in 1984.
A non-refundable contribution of $150,000 to the SGF, a fund which supports economic growth in all sectors of the economy or a $250,000 investment in the sugar industry, or a $400,000 property purchase in the Caribbean island buys citizenship. The passport ensures visa-free travel to 132 nations.
Antigua and Barbuda
Since November 2017, applicants have been required to either donate $100,000 to the country's National Development Fund, or pump at least $400,000 in an existing but newly-created business venture or make a real estate investment of a least $400,000. The passport offer visa-free travel to as many as 140 countries and territories. Antigua and Barbuda are two Caribbean islands in the West Indies in the Americas.
A donation of at least $100,000to the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund (depending on number of dependents), or an investment of at least $300,000 in an approved real estate development, gets you citizenship in Saint Lucia, an island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.
Grenada reopened its citizenship by investment in 2014, having closed it from 2001 through 2013. The current version requires a $150,000 donation to the Grenada National Transformation Fund, or real estate investment of at least $350,000. A second passport from Grenada allows access to 110 countries.
Investors interested in participating in the Vanuatu Contribution Programme (VCP) -one of the active citizenship by investment schemes-can make a minimum contribution of $130,000, plus $25,000 in processing fees. They should also have a minimum net worth of $250,000.
Starting in October 2018 for a limited number of 2,000 applicants from non-EU countries, Montenegro joined the ever-expanding list of countries seeking to attract foreign direct investments. The investment requirements are as follows: €100,000 in the form of a Government Fund Donation, and €250,000 investment in approved real estate in an undeveloped region (north of the country), or €450,000 investment in approved real estate in a developed region (south of the country).
The programme allows permanent residence status within 3 weeks- without undermining thorough due diligent processes. Citizenship is then granted within a period of 6 months as permanent residents. The Montenegrin passport allows citizens visa-free travel to 115 countries.
Investors with a spare €511,292 or €1,022,584 for the accelerated two-year procedure, can apply in the Eastern European country for a second citizenship. Applicants have to deposit the funds into a Governmental Bond Portfolio for a period of five years with no further payment required. At the end of the five-year investment period, the full amount will be returned to the applicant without any accrued interest. Alternatively, for a fast-track option, investors can double down on their investment after one year of residency, and obtain full citizenship a year thereafter. Since Bulgarian rights equate to EU rights , this passport is a ticket to live and work freely anywhere in the EU.
This European island offers a second passport, for a non-refundable contribution of at least €650,000 to National Development and Social Fund, a purchase of €150,000 in government stocks/ bonds, and a property transaction, which can include a purchase (for a minumum of €350,000) or a rental (for a minimum of €16,000 per year), held for five years.
The cost of Moldovan citizenship starts at €100,000 for a single applicant and must be donated to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) plus service provider and agent fees of €35,000, government fees of €5,000, due diligence fees of €6,000, and biometric passport fees of €300. The total period until the applicant holds his new passport and officially recognized the Moldovan citizenship is estimated to be 90 days. Moldovan passport offers visa-free access to 121 destinations around the world, including Russia, Turkey, and the countries in Europe’s Schengen Area. Moldova, a major supplier of agricultural products in southeastern Europe is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.
Foreign investors are attracted to these schemes for various reasons, from wanting to live in the country of their choice to start a business and buy property, to obtaining a passport that allows visa-free travel to a greater number of countries. However, the offer of increased visa-free access has prompted concerns about transparency, as well as accountability. There is also the risk that economies could become overly dependent on the capital inflows from these programmes.