17 countries where money can buy you a second passport or ‘elite residency’
By Alison Millington, Business Insider
The super-rich are no longer just spending their money on private jets, yachts, and hotels — they’re also splashing out on second passports.
The Second Citizenship Survey 2017 from CS Global Partners found that 89% of people would like to own a second passport, and over 34% said they had looked into investing in a second citizenship.
Even more striking were the 80.68% who said they would be willing to invest or donate 5% of their annual salary for a second citizenship — more than they spend on monthly rent.
Luckily, according to Associated Press, at least two dozen countries offer a new home to people willing to invest in a business, real estate or government bonds.
Some of these countries offer Citizenship by Investment (CIP) programs where money can actually buy a second passport, usually starting at around $200,000 (£154,392).
The programs typically involve investment in real estate in exchange for the elite status that comes along with owning a citizenship — and property — in another country. Other programs offer “elite residency” — an extended visa with perks — in exchange for similar investments.
Business Insider spoke to Nuri Katz, President of Apex Capital Partners, an international advisory firm that specialises in CIPs, to find out more about the trend, and how the programs work.
“For a lot of wealthy people having a second or third passport is important for the ability to travel,” Katz said. “For some it’s also a status symbol, like buying a fancy car to show your friends.”
He added that along with the travel benefits and the status that comes along with owning real estate around the world, the programs also allow people to manage their tax burdens.
“Second citizenship is becoming more than just getting a passport,” he said. “There are certain advantages towards using second citizenship to create residence in countries where tax burdens would be lower than where you are at the current time.”
According to the AP, the Chinese are the biggest market for CIPs, with more than 100,000 Chinese people spending at least $24 billion (£18.5 billion) in the last decade to buy residency through investment visa programs.
However, Katz explained there’s a difference between CIPs and residency programs.
“Citizenship is forever, and cannot be taken away unless you received it under fraudulent circumstances,” he said. “You also get a passport.”
Meanwhile, as laws change, a residency visa can be taken away — but it’s a more affordable way to get the perks that come along with living in another country.
Whether you choose to splash out for full citizenship or you investment in residency, here are 17 countries where money can buy you a second passport — or at least a chance to live long-term abroad — ranked by cost, from cheapest to most expensive.
17. Thailand — ‘Elite residency’ from $15,000 (£11,568).
The Thai government has started offering “elite” residency visas for wealthy foreign citizens, allowing them to live in the country for around $3,000 (£2,403) a year.
There are seven different packages, with the most expensive being the “Elite Ultimate Privilege” scheme.
It costs $60,000 (£46,272) for 20 years residency, along with a $600 (£463) a year membership fee.
Included in the price is a state-sponsored concierge programme, entitling members to VIP access to government agencies dealing with immigration, driving licences, and work permits, as well as complimentary return airport transfers, an annual health check up at a private hospital, and 24 spa treatments and golfing trips a year.
Other packages include a $15,000 (£11,568) deal for five years with no annual fee called “Elite Easy Access,” and also a 10-year, $30,000 (£23,136) membership that includes discounts for family members.
16. Latvia — Residency from €64,600 (£56,652).
For residency in Latvia, here’s what’s required:
-A minimum of €286,000 (£250,964) over a period of five years in a credit institution, or
-To invest in equity capital, the foreign national must invest a minimum of €36,000 (£31,590) and must pay a minimum of €28,600 (£25,096) in the next year.
You can apply for citizenship after five years through process of naturalization (i.e. language test, history test).
“The true catch here is when they want to get citizenship, they have to take a language test, and Latvian is an impossible language to learn as an adult,” Katz said. “No one can, and they know it, and as such they know no one will ever become a citizen.”
15. Saint Lucia — Citizenship from $100,000 (£77,113).
Courtesy of Jade Mountain
There are three ways to get citizenship in Saint Lucia, according to Katz.
-A donation of at least $100,000 (£77,113) to the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund (depending on number of dependents), or
-Investment of at least $300,000 (£231,517) in an approved real estate development, or
-Investment of $3.5 million (£2.7 million) in an approved enterprise project.
14. Dominica — Citizenship from $100,000 (£77,113).
Joseph Thomas Photography / Shutterstock
Dominica is appealing due to its visa-free access to more than 110 countries, according to Arabian Business.
Katz said there are two options:
-A donation to the National Transformation Fund of $100,000 (£77,113) for a single applicant, or $200,000 (£154,226) for a family of four, or
-A real estate investment of $200,000 (£154,226).
13. Malta — Citizenship from €150,000 (£131,521).
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According to Katz, the current investment options in Malta are:
-A non-refundable contribution of at least €650,000 (£569,925) to National Development and Social Fund, or
-Investment of at least €350,000 (£306,883) in property, or a property rental contract for at least €16,000 (£14,029), held for five years, or
-Purchase of €150,000 (£131,521) im government bonds, held for five years.
12. Grenada — Citizenship from $200,000 (£154,226) .
EQRoy / Shutterstock
There are two ways to get citizenship through investment in Grenada:
-A $200,000 (£154,226) donation to the Grenada National Transformation Fund, or
-Real estate investment of at least $350,000 (£269,874).
11. St. Kitts and Nevis — Citizenship from $250,000 (£192,800).
“In 2009, the country also received the right to travel visa-free throughout Europe, which made the program very popular amongst the 50,000 people being being rejected by Canada, and other people from Russia and the Middle East,” Katz said.
Here are your options:
-A real estate investment of at least $400,000 (£308,480) held for five years, or
-A non-refundable contribution of at least $250,000 (£192,800) to the Sugar Industry Diversifcation Foundation (SIDF) (depending on the number of members in your family).
10. Greece — Residency from €250,000 (£219,301).
To gain residency in Greece, you need to invest a minimum of €250,000 (£219,301) in Greek properties — the lowest cost residency program in Europe.
9. Antigua and Barbuda — Citizenship from $250,000 (£192,782).
There are three ways to get citizenship through investment in Antigua and Barbuda:
-Real estate investment of a least $400,000 (£308,452).
-A donation to the National Development Fund of $250,000 (£192,782).
-A $1.5 million (£1.2 million) investment in an existing but newly-created business venture.
8. Portugal — ‘Golden Visa’ from €350,000 (£307,022).
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“The Portuguese Golden Visa Program offers non-European investors a fast-track to a valid residency permit,” Katz said. “The visa is initially valid for one year, renewable twice thereafter at 2-year intervals.”
Applicants and their families may obtain their Portugal second passport by applying for Portuguese citizenship after six years of permanent residency.
The options include:
-€500,000 (£438,602) in a fund that invests in small or medium sized businesses.
-Acquisiton of real estate valued at at least €350,000 (£307,022).
-Creation of at least 10 jobs in Portugal.
7. U.S. — Residency from $500,000 (£385,594).
In the last decade, the Chinese have taken up 75% of the investor visas issued by the United States. The AP reported that during the period the country has taken in at least $7.7 billion (£5.9 billion) and issued more than 40,000 visas to Chinese investors and their families.
The EB-5 visa leads to US conditional resident status (known as a green card), which can then lead to a U.S. passport, according to Katz.
Two years after conditional residence is granted, investors and their families become eligible for permanent residency.
-Investment of $500,000 (£385,594) in a targeted employment area (regional center).
-Direct investment of $1 million (£771,188) in an American commercial enterprise.
6. Spain — ‘Golden Visa’ from €500,000 (£438,602).
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Katz’ company doesn’t deal with the Spanish program, but the country also has a Golden Visa program, which can eventually lead to citizenship.
-Minimum investment of €500,000 (£438,602) in real estate.
-After five years, applicant can request permanent residency.
-After 10 years, they can request citizenship.
5. Bulgaria — Citizenship from 1 million BGN (£448,443).
There are two investment options in Bulgaria.
Investment option one:
-A 1 million BGN (£448,443) investment in a full-guaranteed government bond for five years
-The investment will be returned to the investor after the term without interest.
The fast-track option:
-Investment of 1 million BGN (£448,443) in government-guaranteed bonds.
-Investment of an additional 1 million BGN (£448,443) one year later.
-At least one year of permanent residency
-You must hold both investments for at least two years after the citizenship is granted.
4. Canada — Citizenship from $800,000 (£475,000).
Canada’s Federal Investor Immigration Program, which proved to be one of the most popular when it launched in the late 80s, is now closed.
“It used to be that most of the investor immigrants were going to Canada, which had a very robust investor immigration programme,” Katz said. Canada’s program drew an estimated $2.4 billion (£1.6 billion) through Chinese investors over the past decade.
However, with thousands of people using the program, around the late 2000s the Canadian government started to slow down the acceptance of investor immigrants, according to Katz. They ended the program in 2014, saying that it “significantly undervalued” Canadian residency and created little economic benefit.
“There were 50,000 people in the pipeline, and they had their applications cancelled and sent them back,” Katz said.
Still, some of Canada’s provinces, such as Quebec, have their own small programs. Quebec has drawn at least $1.9 billion (£1.5 billion) from Chinese investment, though it only accepts about 1,500 people a year — a small amount compared to what it was in the past when it didn’t have a yearly quota, Katz added.
In order to qualify:
-Citizenship applicants must reside in the country for three years within a four-year timeframe.
-Applicants must have legally-obtained net worth of at least $1.6 million CAD (£950,000).
-Applicants must possess a minimum of three years of experience in planning, finance, human resources, or general management
-Applicants must state their intention to settle in the province of Quebec, and sign an agreement to invest $800,000 (£475,000).
3. Australia — Residency from $1.5 million AU (£885,299).
Australia boasts a residency program that can lead to citizenship in the long term.
However, it’s on the more expensive end.
-A personal net worth of a least $2.25 million AU (£1.3 million) which must apply for the two ears previous to the individual’s application
-An investment of $1.5 million AU (£885,299) into an Australia project or enterprise, which will in turn benefit the Australian economy.
2. Cyprus — Citizenship from €1.5 million (£1.3 million).
Cyprus has the most expensive CIP program, according to Arabian Business.
The current investment options include:
-Real estate investment of €2 million (£1.8 million).
-A minimum of €500,000 (£438,497) and privately owned residence in Cyprus valued at at least €1.5 million (£1.3 million).
1. New Zealand — Residency from 3 million NZD (£1.7 million).
In New Zealand, the most expensive program we analysed, you’ve got two options for residency:
-An investment of 3 million NZD (£1.7 million) over four years, or
-An investment of 10 million NZD (£5.6 million) over three years.
If you go with the four-year route, you also need at least three years of business experience.
Coming soon — Montenegro’s ‘Special Investor Program’
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Finally, Katz said he’s been working with the government of Montenegro to create a Special Investor Program coming soon.
“Once it goes live, temporary residence of Montenegro can be acquired on grounds of employment, education and international students’ exchange, medical treatments, family reunion and other,” he said.
Here’s how it will work:
-Temporary residence permit can be obtained in one month, and is valid for a period of one year with the possibility of extension.
-After a period of five years, temporary residence can become permanent.
-Applicants can apply for Montenegrin citizenship, having lived in Montenegro for five years in the status of permanent resident.