Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If you tell someone that you have Caribbean citizenship by investment (CBI), they might scoff at you. Many people call passports from places like Dominica or Antigua fake or illegitimate because you can get them rather quickly by making a simple investment in the country. I did “buy a Caribbean Citizenship” from St. Lucia and now hold a passport. I can tell you that they’re perfectly legitimate and that all Nomad Capitalists should consider them as a part of their diversification strategy.
Despite what you may have heard, Caribbean CBI programs are 100% legit, and the passports they give you are no joke, either.
In fact, my St. Lucia passport gives me visa-free entry to 130 countries, including the UK and the EU Schengen countries. But when I discuss getting a second passport through citizenship by investment with the people I work with, they often get a bit concerned.
The idea that this tiny little island will give you a real, good-quality passport in exchange for a sum of money sounds preposterous to them – even though these islands are sovereign countries that simply offer ways to obtain Caribbean citizenship outside of naturalization.
In this article, we’ll discuss the truth about Caribbean CBI and clear up some of the misinformation about it floating around the internet.
Common Myths about Caribbean Citizenship by Investment
At Nomad Capitalist, we’re all about bringing transparency to the offshore world and fighting misinformation that’s often perpetuated by people who want your money and attention – but really have no idea what they’re doing.
As someone who’s actually gotten Caribbean CBI in St. Lucia and helped others do the same in places like Grenada, I can help clear up some of these common misconceptions about Caribbean CBI.
In the following section, we’ll take a look at a few of these myths, and I’ll give you the real scoop on getting Caribbean CBI.
Caribbean Passports are “Fake” Passports
One of the myths about Caribbean Islands passports is that they’re “fake” passports that won’t really get you anywhere.
Most of the people who I work with who want to get a second passport are US citizens who are used to having one of the best-known passports in the world. When you show up to an international border, it’s easy to be like, “hey, I’m from this huge country where there’s a lot going on.” Everyone knows the US, and most immigration officials respect a US passport.
A US passport is also one of the toughest passports in the world to get.
If you weren’t born there, the US naturalization process requires a lot of time, money, paperwork, and patience. So I can see why many are hesitant to go from being a citizen of the US to being a citizen of a much smaller country. They see their US passport as more of a long-term relationship and a passport from a country like St. Kitts and Nevis as a fling.
However, that’s the wrong way of going about it.
These Caribbean countries are real countries with real passports that can serve you just as well as any other citizenship can. It’s understandable why someone from a major country might have a few concerns about the size of these Caribbean countries, but the reality is that a country is a country – and size doesn’t make a passport any less legitimate.
How to Get a Caribbean Passport
Another common concern that people have when looking into Caribbean CBI is this idea that you always have to live in a country to be a citizen there.
This myth comes from the most common way that you can obtain citizenship in a country – naturalization. To become a naturalized citizen of a country, you generally need to establish residency and live there for a set amount of time before you are eligible to apply for citizenship. Citizenship by investment, however, doesn’t work that way.
In fact, in many Caribbean countries that offer CBI, you don’t even need to set foot in the country to get a passport. Granted, if you’re going to obtain Caribbean citizenship, it’s probably a good idea to at least go there and see what’s going on – and many of these countries are beautiful and fun to visit.
However, you don’t need to pack your bags and move to St. Vincent and the Grenadines if you want to get a passport there.
In fact, I generally don’t recommend it. Planting flags in various countries is an important part of going where you’re treated best, and in many cases, it’s actually beneficial to have a passport from a country that you don’t plan to live in.
A passport through Caribbean CBI can be a great way to help you begin planning your global citizen strategy.
For example, you could use this passport to secure an easy residency in a country where you can obtain citizenship in a matter of a few years. As with most second residencies and citizenships, it’s all a part of creating a strategy that works for you – not necessarily finding a new home.
You’ll be Judged for Using a Caribbean Passport While Traveling
Another concern that people have with Caribbean passports is that they’ll be judged for using them at international borders. They’re used to presenting a US or similarly well-known passport, so they wonder what will happen if they present a passport from a small island nation at customs.
Most countries, however, really don’t care whether you’re St. Lucian, American, or German – they care that your passport is valid and that you have the proper credentials to enter the country.
That being said, you might go to a country where few people with your passport travel to – but that can happen with any passport.
When I traveled to Malaysia with a friend of mine from Montenegro, for example, the Malaysian immigration officer had to double-check whether Montenegrins had visa free travel.
Once the officer confirmed that was the case, they stamped him, and he was on his way.
That’s really the worst-case scenario here. You might have to spend an extra five minutes waiting for an immigration officer to do some due diligence, but they’re not judging you – they’re just taking care of business as usual.
Passports from Certain Countries are Intrinsically Better than Others
What most of these myths come down to is this idea that US or other major countries are better than others.
As much as we complain about high taxes and other problems in countries like the US, Australia, or Canada, we still have this idea that there’s something better about them that translates to how we’re treated abroad.
As always, however, the reality is much more complicated. Some countries are fairly open and don’t care what passport you present, and others are going to hassle you no matter where you’re from. I’ve actually been treated better in certain countries with my St. Lucia passport than I was with my US passport. This idea that you need to have a top-tier passport to travel visa-free easily is ultimately a myth.
At the end of the day, what matters most is whether you can get to the places that you need to go easily – not how recognizable your passport is or how many countries you have visa-free travel to.
What’s the Truth About Caribbean Citizenship by Investment?
Now that we’ve cleared up some of the common misconceptions about Caribbean citizenship by investment, here’s the truth about it: Caribbean CBI is real, legitimate, and a great option for the right person.
Here are some of the reasons why I think Caribbean CBI is a solid bet.
Rapidly Improving Visa-Free Travel
As far as passports go, Caribbean ones are on the rise. An increasing number of countries are opening up to travelers using Caribbean passports.
China – one of the most closed-off countries in the world as far as visas go – has even given visa-free travel to Grenadian citizens, and it may follow suit with any other Caribbean country.
Many Caribbean passports also have visa free access to Russia – another country notorious for its strict visa policies. Europe and South America also offer most Caribbean passports visa free access.
Caribbean passports are already solid passports, and an increasing number of countries are seeing that if someone has the money to get a Caribbean CBI, then they probably aren’t trying to come and overstay their visas.
That being said, you’re probably never going to have visa free access to places like the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand – but most countries (including major European nations) don’t have visa free travel there anyway. As I’ve said for the past few years, the Tier B passports that you get from Caribbean CBI are the wave of the future. If you think that a Dominica citizenship or an Antigua citizenship is a decent passport to have now – just wait a few years and see how many more countries you’ll have visa free access to.
Your Citizenship Won’t Hold You Back
In the future, the US, the EU, and other Western countries are going to keep imposing new rules, taxes, and restrictions on their citizens. You can see it already with laws like FATCA.
By forcing all foreign banks to become unpaid tattletales to the IRS, this law severely limits US citizens’ options while banking abroad.
On the other hand, any Caribbean country tends not to bother you much, which makes them a safe bet in the future.
Caribbean Citizenship by Investment is Worth the Cost…For the Right Person
In the expat community, you’ll often hear that Caribbean citizenship by investment isn’t worth it.
They say, “why spend $100,000 on a passport when you can just put a little bit of money into a bank in Paraguay?”
First, you’ll need to wait at least three years to get your passport with that approach. With CBI, you can often get your passport within a year.
You’re also not even guaranteed to get citizenship in those kinds of countries even if you follow all of the rules. Caribbean CBI programs tend to get a lot of flack for their cost.
Yes, it is expensive, but it’s expensive for a reason – you get a passport in a short amount of time without needing to jump through hoops or even move to the country.
If you’re trying to get a second passport for as little money as possible, then CBI simply isn’t for you.
If you’re a six- or seven-figure entrepreneur or investor, then you really shouldn’t be taking advice from strangers on internet forums who don’t pay nearly as much in tax as you do and don’t have the same level of need for diversification.
Take advice from people who’ve been there and are on your level. The Bentley dealership doesn’t care what Kia buyers have to say. In the grand scheme of things, getting Caribbean CBI will pay for itself by increasing your freedom and possibly becoming an important part of your tax strategy.
You also have the option to get a CBI that’s profitable. With the right investment in the right country, you can make up your initial minimum investment and more.
At the end of the day, it’s about deciding what’s best for you. You might be a US citizen who’s trying to renounce as quickly as possible, and in that case, a quick CBI program may be the right call.
In other cases, you may want to make a real estate investment to get a second residence that eventually turns into citizenship, or you may want to get citizenship the old fashioned way through naturalization. It all depends on your goals and circumstances.
That’s why I use a diagnostic process with everyone who I work with – the right choice for one person might not work for others. Just the other day, I had a British guy come to me saying that he wanted to get a second citizenship and become a tax non-resident in the UK, and we actually decided against him getting Caribbean citizenship by investment.
However, for many people – especially Americans – it’s just easier to suck it up, write a check, and get a passport in a matter of months.
While it may cost them six figures out of pocket, they’ll save more than double that amount in taxes over the years – especially if they’re investing in cryptocurrency.
If you have the capital, it’s often worth it to just pay the money and not have to deal with anything else.
Why You Should Consider Caribbean Citizenship by Investment
Although plenty of talking heads will tell you otherwise, Caribbean CBI programs are the real deal. You’ll get a good-quality passport that’s becoming increasingly stronger, and you’ll have citizenship in a country that isn’t actively trying to monitor your every move abroad.
It’s also one of the easiest ways to get a second passport. You put in the money, fill out some paperwork, and get your passport in a matter of months.
However, it’s not always the right choice for everyone. Even if you have the money to invest, you shouldn’t just collect things like passports for the sake of having them. If you’re not sure if Caribbean citizenship by investment is the right call for you, we can help you make a holistic plan.
Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Comparison Guide
The Caribbean is host to 7,000 islands, 25 of which are amazing countries and territories. And across these various islands, you can find at least five different spoken languages, numerous cultural traditions, and many culinary delights.
Plus, five of these countries offer some of the best citizenship by investment (CBI) programs around. Not only does a safe and beautiful location appeal to many of those seeking dual citizenship, but these five Caribbean countries passports are some of the easiest to get and their tax incentives are insane.
Plus, their processing time is usually less than 6 months, to boot.
In this article, we will compare the Caribbean citizenship programs and discuss alternative residence by investment program.
This article also assumes that you’re familiar with the concept of acquiring citizenship by investment.
If not, you can get the nitty-gritty breakdown here with our comprehensive guide
The Best Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs
So, if you’re looking for the best Caribbean citizenship programs, then you have come to the right article.
Here, we will compare five different Caribbean CBI programs so you can determine where you should go to be treated best. While I would argue that you would be treated best in any of these locations, there may be specific details that are more appealing to you depending on your individual needs and interests. And whether you are looking into second citizenship for tax purposes, travel, or as a Plan B, I’m certain that a Caribbean citizenship program can meet your needs.
Read on to understand the various nuances and to compare factors. If you would like to explore these factors in more detail, click on each country’s name below to be taken to a comprehensive Citizenship by Investment Ultimate Guide per program.
Caribbean Residence by Investment Option
If none of these Caribbean citizenship options tickled your fancy, there are also some islands in, or near, the Caribbean Sea that offer residence by investment options.
While the Caribbean citizenship by investment programs are top-notch and some of the best in the world, maybe you’re just not ready for citizenship.
If that’s the case, take a look at these countries to see if they might be the right fit for you.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Caribbean Citizenship by Investment, you may want to consider The Bahamas. With new rules in 2021, their Residence by Investment program might just meet your needs.
Bahamas residence by investment is one of the 15 easiest second residency programs to get. Plus, it usually only takes three months to be approved. And in July 2021, new rules will allow for investors to gain permanent residence right away.
Especially if you’re interested in real estate investment that’s valued at more than $1.5 million. Under this program, you will be able to make a real estate investment or in priority sectors of the economy, such as tourism, information technology, infrastructure, and medicine. You can also combine both investment options.
While the new amount for real estate investment is still due to be released, it is expected to be at a minimum of $500,000. But you will have to hold the property for at least 10 years and spend at least 90 days per year in the country. The upside is that you can apply for citizenship after those 10 years. And family members are allowed too, as long as they live with and are dependent on you.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Caribbean Citizenship by Investment, you may want to consider Bermuda. Their Residence by Investment program is one of the newest on the block.
New to the scene as of March 2021, Bermuda launched a residence by investment program, known as the “Economic Investment Certificate.”
Under this program, you can invest $2.5 million into various economic sectors, including:
- Real estate
- Bermuda-based businesses
- Government bonds
- Trust Funds
Your family is also welcome. Spouses and dependents can be granted residence under your application process. And after five years, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residence allowing you and your family to reside in Bermuda indefinitely.
Though, if you’re interested in a citizenship option, you may be eligible after the first 10 years. And with tax-friendly options, it might just be a country in which you want to open an “offshore” bank account.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Caribbean Citizenship by Investment, you may want to consider The Cayman Islands.
Their Residence by Investment program has several paths to residency. The Cayman Islands offers several options for you to gain residence by investment. And while it’s one of the more expensive options, it’s worth it for the tax incentives and British Overseas Territory status.
Under this program, you can apply for permanent residency by a real estate investment of $2.4 million. You will then need to spend at least one day per year in the Cayman Islands and your status will never expire. Plus, after five years, you can also apply for a British Overseas Territory passport.
In addition to the permanent residence program, the Cayman Islands also offers alternative residency options. For example, you can make a direct investment into a business or by owning a portion of a business. For the direct investment option, you will need to invest $1.2 million into a business where you have an active management role and that creates local jobs.
To be more specific, 30% of the employees must be Caymanian and you will also have to prove your professional expertise. With this option, you will need to live in the country for 90 days per year to gain a 25-year permit. But your family is welcome too.
For the substantial business presence option, you will need to own 10% of the shares in an approved business or be employed in a senior management capacity.
Additionally, you will need to reside in the islands for 90 days per year, but that shouldn’t be too difficult if you are working for a company there. With this option, your permit is also good for 25-years and is renewable. And again, your family is welcome as well.
ST. Vincent & Grenadines
If you’re looking for an alternative to Caribbean Citizenship by Investment, you may want to consider St. Vincent & Grenadine. Their Residence by Investment program allows for both temporary or permanent residency.
Here, non-nationals can apply for residency on a temporary or permanent basis. And you will usually get a decision in three to five months. Temporary residency is granted for one to two years and you can apply for a renewal. After 7 consecutive years in the country, you may also be eligible for citizenship.
Summary: The Best Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs
Remember the dream vacation that we imagined at the beginning of this article? It doesn’t have to be just a dream.
Citizenship by investment programs is a way to turn a dream vacation into a permanent reality. And while there are great CBI options the world over, the Caribbean really does offer some of the oldest and the best programs out there.
If you’re looking to settle in the Caribbean, then I hope you will consider one of the five best Caribbean CBI programs that we discussed. And if you want to strategize which of these would be the best option for you, reach out to my team at Nomad Capitalist.
We are ready to help.