Dateline: Managua, Nicaragua
While I believe many of the world’s best investment opportunities lie in Asia and even Africa, you can’t deny the appeal of Central America as a place to live, especially for Americans who want someplace close to home.
You also can’t deny that Central and South American countries have been among the most aggressive in rolling out the red carpet for foreigners seeking second residency status and even second passports.
How to apply for a second residence in Nicaragua
Getting a second residency in Nicaragua is a straightforward process and one that almost any foreigner from a wealthy country can take advantage of.
Countries are grouped into three categories: A, B, and C. Most western nations, as well as developed countries like Singapore, are in Category A. Countries like China and Myanmar are grouped into Category C.
Of course, the higher the category level, the easier it is to apply and be accepted. If your home country is in Category A, the process will be relatively smooth. (Well, as smooth as a bureaucratic process in a developing country can be.)
As I said, the process of obtaining residence in Nicaragua is straightforward. There are basically two options. The first is to invest US$60,000 in the country through a Nicaraguan “Sociedad Anónima” corporation in which you control a majority interest. If you have an existing company overseas that wants to do business in Nicaragua, you can avoid some of the red tape by setting up a local “branch” owned by your existing company.
While it would seem easy to purchase a home for more than $60,000 — say in the beach town of San Juan del Sur – for more than $60,000 and call it a day, it isn’t really the easiest option.
Especially when you consider option two: making enough money to qualify as homeless in the western world. Making $600 a month, or $750 a month for a couple, is the minimum income needed to qualify for rentista or pensionado status.
Pensionados are supposed to be 45 years of age or older, but the restriction can be waived in some cases. Rentistas can be any age. All you have to do is prove a stable, ongoing income and ensure that you can get yourself out of Nicaragua if they ever decide to remove you for misconduct.
Other than that, your main requirements are passing a basic medical test and providing a clean police record. Plus, US persons should not need to provide the painful-to-obtain FBI “Rap Sheet”; a local police report will do in many cases.
Costs and Technicalities
In fact, if you’re missing a document or two, or having trouble getting the proper certification required, it is likely the authorities in Nicaragua will take care of it for an above-board, minimal fee. For example, stamp charges on some immigration documents are literally less than $1.
Overall, the total cost to get a cedula in Nicaragua — and the second residency that comes with it — is less than $1,000 if you’re from a western country. You have to renew the residence for five years, and you qualify to apply for citizenship after seven years.
Getting a second citizenship in Nicaragua technically requires some knowledge of Spanish and Nicaragua history. My contacts here suggest that you should actually live here a good part of the time if you want to be considered for citizenship.
Speaking of technicalities, foreigners with second residence in Nicaragua are supposed to live here six months out of the year once they receive their “cedula” identification card. However, different parts of the immigration law can be open to liberal interpretation according to the local authorities. If you can present a compelling reason to be outside of the country, you should be just fine.
I do believe some people should consider second residence in Nicaragua as a formality to move here. The beaches of San Juan del Sur, the colonial city of Granada, and the open agricultural areas to the north are not bad places to live. And the cost of living in Nicaragua is cheap.
However, Nicaragua is close enough to North America — and cheap enough — to consider it as a second residency for your “escape hatch”. When things get bad enough, at least an American could drive there (granted they could get out of The Land of the Free).
In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing details about how to connect with my Rolodex here in Nicaragua to get a second residency at an incredibly cheap price. You may not even need to visit Nicaragua to complete the process. If you’re not on our insider email list, sign up today and you’ll be the first to know more.