Top Passports by Investment for 2019

The concept of Citizenship by investment was first born in the twin island of federation of St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean in 1984.  It took thirty five years for the number of  citizenship by investment programs  to grow from just one to thirteen schemes in 2019. The demand for citizenship by investment and the need for second passports among HNW families grow by 25% every year.


There are subtle differences exist between Economic citizenship and Citizenship by investment and one should not be confused with another. Many also confuse golden visas with citizenship.


  • Economic citizenship is not citizenship by investment

  • Golden visas does not offer passports and is not citizenship by investment






Economic citizenship


Economic citizenship can be obtained by foreigners for involving in economic activity and then naturalize for citizenship according to the existing citizenship laws of country. Citizenship may take several years requiring full integration, speaking language etc.


Citizenship by Investment


 Citizenship by investment schemes offer immediate citizenship within few months to a year to foreign investors against pre-defined investment activities such as (contribution to sovereign fund, real estate, business). Separate Citizenship by Investment Acts are enacted by countries  in a transparent and structured way, and the CBI funds are used in socio-welfare and economic development projects.


Citizenship by Investment Laws fully allow dual citizenship


Economic residency


Economic residence programs  offer permanent or temporary residency with full path to citizenship. Acceptable investment activities include real estate, government bonds or debts, business capital creating jobs. Golden visas are excellent example of such economic residence by investment (RBI) schemes



The citizenship by investment industry is expected to hit $10 billion annually by 2025.

We have compiled below 13 official citizenship by investment schemes actively running worldwide with official references.


Launch date

  • St Kitts and Nevis – 1983

  • Dominica – 1993

  • Malta – 2014

  • Cyprus – 2013

  • Antigua and Barbuda – 2013

  • Grenada – 2013

  • Saint Lucia  – 2015

  • Vanuatu – 2015

  • Western Samoa – 2016

  • Turkey – 2017

  • Moldova – 2018

  • Montenegro  – 2018

  • Bulgaria – 2009


CBI Revenues

  • St Kitts and Nevis – $1 billion

  • Antigua and Barbuda –  $110 million

  • Dominica – $350 million

  • Grenada – $165 million

  • St Lucia – $25 million

  • Malta – €1 billion

  • Cyprus – €6 billion

  • Vanuatu – $42 million

  • Moldova – €1.3 billion

  • Montenegro – €700 million

  • Total: $10 billion +



Key Differences

These are key differences among CBI/CIP passports


  • St Lucia ($500,000) and Cyprus ($2 million) are the only countries offering CBI passports through Government bonds/treasury bills

  • Antigua and St Lucia are the only countries that offer citizenship for business investment (excess of $1.5M)

  • St Kitts is the only country that offers Accelerated Application Process (AAP) within 60 days for additional fee.


  • Turkey is the newly launched citizenship by investment program slashing its prices by 75% only requiring $250,000 real estate investment for citizenship

  • Cyprus citizenship by investment scheme is limited to 700 applications per year

  • Montenegro economic citizenship scheme will be open from Jan 1, 2019 and the scheme will run for 3 years, capped to 2000 cases.

  • Malta and Cyprus are the best european passports, offering full citizenship rights in the EU.

  • Grenada, Moldova, Montenegro and Bulgaria are the only countries that have E-2 treaty investor with United States.

  • Austria does not have official citizenship by investment program.

  • Western Samoa and Bulgaria passports have visa free travel to Canada. All other CBI passports do not have visa free travel to Canada.

  • Vanuatu is the only country that does not have real estate investment option for citizenship by investment (donation only)

  • Antigua is the only country that accepts bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for payment but implementation is still pending. No other country officially accepts bitcoin for CBI passport.

  • Malta is the only country that has Visa Waiver Program (VWP) with United States.

  • Moldova, Montenegro, Turkey, Bulgaria and Samoa are the only five countries that are not on the OECD list of CBI/RBI schemes.


Trends

  • Over 90% of economic citizens who have received their CBI passports do not move to the new country to live.

  • Over 85% of applicants applying for CBI passports chose donation option.

  • Over 90% of applicants chose to rent a property for five years rather than buying a real estate to qualify for citizenship.


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Articlewritten by Balakrishnan Prabhu on December 15, 2018,