Citizenship by investment, also commonly referred to as economic citizenship, is a type of citizenship status that is granted to a person (and their immediate family) after they’ve invested a considerable amount of money and time into a country’s economy. The process of obtaining citizenship by investment is often called “buying citizenship” but that phrase can be misleading because the investment itself actually consists of valuable assets such as real estate or stocks. Conventional citizenship is typically granted under the grounds of an individual being born within the country, marriage to a current citizen, or naturalisation. However, many countries now offer citizenship by investment as a means of stimulating the economy by welcoming foreign investors.
How to Become a Citizen by Investment?
The exact requirements for becoming an “economic citizen” will vary depending on the country, but generally you’ll have to purchase and retain a substantial asset that carries a minimal value. For example, to obtain citizenship by investment in Malta you’d need to own a real estate property with a minimum value of €350,000, or stocks/bonds/investment vehicles totalling €150,000 in value, for a period of 5 consecutive years. You may also have to show proof that you’ve been residing in the country for a specified minimum time period – usually 12 months.
Providing proof that you’ve fulfilled all the requirements and submitting the appropriate applications can be quite a hassle when done independently, so most investors opt to allocate this task to a firm that specialises in citizenship by investment. After becoming a citizen, you’ll receive a second passport that you can use for travelling.
List of Places Where You Can Buy Citizenship or Elite Residency
There are currently almost three dozen countries that provide Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs), with the average cost of citizenship being around £154,000. Here’s a quick list of some of the more appealing nations that offer CIP or elite residency programs:
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand
Anyone who is thinking about making a significant investment to begin the process of buying citizenship should strongly consider all options before deciding on a country.
What are the Benefits of Having a Second Passport?
You’ll often hear people referring to buying citizenship as “buying a second passport,” but aside from having a fancy document to show off, it does actually provide some very desirable benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Better International Business – Investors who are legal citizens will find it easier to open accounts and conduct business internationally within the country where they’ve purchased their second passport.
- More Convenient Travel – With a second passport in hand you’ll no longer have to apply for visas or jump through annoying loops just to travel.
- Protection from Foreign Policy Crackdowns – If the government of your home nation has a habit of cracking down in certain areas of foreign policy, being a citizen of a second country gives you options that can minimise your risk of being targeted. For example, many investors follow this logic when opening Swiss bank accounts.
- Protection from Travel Restrictions – Although travel restrictions and “people controls” are fairly rare, they can place serious limitations on your ability to leave your home country. Such restrictions are often implemented during times of war, economic uncertainty, or high risk, all of which are times when you may want to leave and travel abroad. With a second passport you won’t be locked down by travel bans enacted by your home country.
- Paving the Way for Renunciation – Finally, if your home country has excessive tax requirements for its citizens or you have other reasons for wanting to renounce your current citizenship, obtaining a second passport/economic citizenship is the first step in achieving that.
No Quick and Simple Shortcuts
Unfortunately, while the phrase “buying a citizenship” makes it seem like something that you can throw in an online shopping cart in a single browsing session, in reality there are no fast and easy options for obtaining citizenship by investment. Thus, if this is something you’re interested in including in your future, the best course of action is to get started as soon as possible because the entire process can take up to 5 years or more from start to finish.