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Dominican Citizenship by Investment: The Ultimate Guide

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Known as the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’, Dominica is famous for its tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls. Perhaps that’s why on a serene Sunday in 1493, Christopher Columbus christened it ‘dies Dominica’ or the Lord’s Day – a name that captures the moment he first laid eyes on this splendid island.

Stepping onto Dominica’s shores you’re immediately transported into a world of natural wonders, a gem in the Caribbean that captivates more than 200,000 travellers each year with its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture.

But the wonders of nature aren’t the only attraction this island has to offer.

The Dominica Economic Citizenship Program, or Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) program, has been running for nearly three decades and as it generates significant revenue, it continues to attract investors to its shores.

So, let’s dive into Dominica’s CBI and take a closer look at why it has captured the attention of so many high-net-worth investors and global citizens.

To start with, there is the standard Dominica CBI option whereby, in exchange for US$100,000, you can get your hands on a Dominican passport. The next step is to… well, that’s pretty much the entire process – Dominica’s award-winning CBI program is straightforward in comparison with others.

Dominica’s program makes the top five on the CBI index published by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine. Though, of course, these types of accolades should be taken with a generous pinch of salt.

Still, Dominica CBI remains one of the best-value CBI options in the Caribbean and makes our list of the easiest passports to get. It’s also tied for first place as the cheapest economic citizenship you can obtain anywhere in the world.

Its newest program, The Dominican Entrepreneur Visa, is designed to bring jobs and businesses to Dominica. It’s a slower process than its previous incarnation and requires some time spent in the country, but it can be a more affordable option, starting at US$50,000.

Dominican CBI’s affordability and fast processing time make it a good option for various individuals and circumstances, including those looking for a fast second passport as an insurance policy or a means to renounce US citizenship quickly.

So, how can you decide if a Dominican passport is right for you? In this comprehensive analysis, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Dominica’s CBI program. 

Can You Really Pass Down Citizenship by Investment?

What Is Citizenship by Investment?

A citizenship-by-investment program, also called economic citizenship, is a program run by a national government whereby investors can legally get a passport.

The reasons why a government should choose to sell their citizenship vary, but mostly, it has to do with raising foreign capital, improving national infrastructure and diversifying its economy. A foreign investor will typically be asked to do one or more of the following when purchasing citizenship:

  • Make a donation to a government fund
  • Invest in financial instruments, such as government bonds
  • Purchase (pre-approved) real estate in the country
  • Start up a local company and employ a set amount of local people.

CBI programs usually require applicants to adhere to multiple rules and follow numerous steps in order to obtain citizenship, so the process is best undertaken with the help of a CBI industry professional.

Why Dominica?

Before we get ahead of ourselves and jump into the minutiae of how to secure Dominican citizenship by investment, let’s first take a look at the country of Dominica itself. 

As we mentioned above, Dominica is renowned as being the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’. But not even its fame and beauty can stop it regularly being confused with the Dominican Republic.

Located between the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the island has countless rivers and waterfalls, green mountains and beautiful ocean views. However, it does have a limited number of beaches.

Still, with rainforests full of rare plants, animals and birds, along with abundant opportunities to snorkel and dive on shipwrecks or underwater hot springs, it’s no wonder that Dominica is an increasingly popular ecotourism destination. 

It also enjoys the benefit of being an autonomous country. It gained independence from Britain – it remains a member of the British Commonwealth – in 1978 and enjoys a parliamentary democracy system headed by a President, Prime Minister and a judiciary system based on English common law.

The entire country is about the size of Singapore, with fewer than 75,000 people residents. Most of its people are of African descent, although there is also a small indigenous population (the last in the Caribbean) and a growing number of Caucasian and Chinese inhabitants. English is the official language, but the French dialect, Creole, is also widely spoken.

To top it all off, Dominica is considered one of the happiest places in the world to live and offers the ultimate island lifestyle in a safe, friendly and beautiful country.

With all these attractions, it’s no surprise so many people contemplate spending the rest of their lives here. However, you don’t actually have to reside in this island nation to become a citizen and enjoy the many benefits that come with having a second passport.

Dominica’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program

For the right price, you can get Dominican citizenship.

Dominica is widely known as one of the fastest countries in the world to secure second citizenship due to its long-running economic citizenship program. It is also one of the oldest citizenship-by-investment programs, second only to St Kitts and Nevis.

Dominica’s economic citizenship has been offered to investors willing to donate US$100,000 to the country since 1993. The program is enshrined in Section 101 of Dominica’s Constitution as well as Sections 8 and 20 of the Citizenship Act, giving greater credibility and security to the program.

While the average timeline to process Dominica’s economic citizenship is about three months, it can take anywhere from 2–4 months for most nationalities to obtain full citizenship. As ever, there are unique cases where it may take longer.

However, another option now exists that may interest entrepreneurs looking to do more than just make a donation. The Dominica Investor Visa program, launched at the end of 2020,  offers citizenship for US$50,000 for those willing to invest in a business and hire local workers. 

The main qualification is that you make an investment into a business in the country. There are three main investment options: 

  • Invest US$50,000 in a government-approved business.
  • Invest US$100,000 in a new start-up company that you have more control over. But that will still need to be in certain sectors of the economy.
  • Invest US$100,000 in a government-approved public sector or a private-sector venture.

It maps a possible two-year path to citizenship and requires applicants to spend at least 90 days a year on the island but can come at half the price.

If starting a business is not your cup of tea and you’re looking for something simpler and faster, Dominica’s Citizenship Act waives any residence requirements for qualified investors, making it possible for interested individuals to obtain Dominican citizenship without ever residing in the country.

Options for Getting Dominican Citizenship by Investment 

Dominica Passports by Investment vs Donation

Back in 2015, Dominica received access to the Schengen area and became one of only two real passports for sale at the time that enjoyed unfettered access to the European Union (EU).

With that added value, Dominica decided to raise their price for the first time from US$100,000 for a single applicant to US$175,000, effective August 2016.

However, several other Caribbean countries decided to join the economic citizenship club circa 2016 and Dominica eventually walked back its price to the original US$100,000. Fast forward to 2017, when increased competition among Caribbean CBI programs, combined with a few devastating hurricane seasons, ignited a price war.

With five programs now available in the region, these countries’ governments decided to lower their prices for both the donation and real estate options in a bid to tempt investors away from neighbouring rivals and towards their own shores.

Here at Nomad Capitalist, we doubt that the prices will go below the US$100,000 floor. But prices will fluctuate somewhat; with each passing election, world crisis or local hurricane season, the Caribbean CBI industry doesn’t stand still for long.

Now is the best time to get Dominican CBI. Unlike the neighbouring St Lucia CBI program, for example, there are no options for investing in the purchase of government bonds. Still, there are great options for making a general donation, purchasing real estate, and now an entrepreneurial option to invest in a company.

So, let’s talk in more detail about how you can obtain citizenship in Dominica.

The Donation Option

Making a donation is the oldest and most straightforward option available. An investor availing of this option will be required to donate to the Economic Diversification Program, which supports public and private projects within Dominica. 

While most people are familiar with the US$100,000 price tag, there are a few variations on the price. It depends on whether you’re applying alone or with a spouse, children, other dependents or siblings. The final price breakdown is as follows:

  • Single applicant – US$100,000 non-refundable contribution
  • Spouse of the main applicant – US$50,000
  • Main applicant and up to three dependants – US$175,000
  • Any additional dependent aged 18+ – US$50,000 each
  • Any additional dependant under 18 – US$25,000.

It doesn’t get much easier than this. You pay the due diligence and fees (which can add up to around US$10,000), make the donation and you’re in. Processing your application doesn’t take long, so you can expect to receive your passport in short order.

Public projects or endeavours which qualify for donations to the Economic Diversification Program include building schools, renovating hospitals, building a national sports stadium and promoting the offshore sector. Private sector projects include tourism, information technology and agriculture.

Roughly US$1.5 million from the economic citizenship program was used to promote small business development and more than double that amount was used for the National Employment Program.

All in all, Dominica is a business-minded and business-friendly country that’s ready to welcome intelligent investors who can contribute to the country’s development.

Dominican Citizenship by Investment – the Real Estate Option

The more complicated and expensive route to Dominican citizenship by investment is real estate investment. 

Similar to other CBI programs in the Caribbean, Dominica offers economic citizenship to those willing to purchase approved real estate in the country. Available to investors since 2015, it has a low entry point of US$200,000, and you can resell the property after holding it for three years.

Two or more applicants can apply together via a single purchase as long as each applicant contributes a minimum of US$200,000 toward the investment. The government allows the real estate option as the money goes directly toward investment in the country.

However, because that money essentially goes to developers, the government charges an additional fee to recoup some money from the process. With that in mind, the final price breakdown for the real estate option is as follows:

  • Authorised Real Estate Purchase – US$200,000 (minimum)
  • Plus the government fee:
    • Single applicant – US$25,000
    • Main applicant and up to three dependants – US$35,000
    • Main applicant and up to five dependants – US$50,000
    • Any additional dependents – US$25,000

The main benefit of the real estate option is that you can eventually resell the property and recoup the investment. To do so, you must hold the property for at least three years.

It’s not all plain sailing with this option and there are a couple of things to note:

  • If you choose to resell to another CBI applicant, however, you will have to wait a total of five years, effective from the original purchase date.
  • Whether or not you sell your property to someone later, you will likely lose some money on the investment.

Depending on the developer and when you can purchase the property, the time it takes to get your passport may vary. The bottom line is that this route has a few more logistical issues applicants should know about.

An Actionable Guide and Alternatives

So, what’s your best investment route and are you eligible for the program to start with?

You’ve come to the right place for advice. The Nomad Capitalist team can answer these questions, along with outlining the seven enticing real estate options the program has to offer. And we can also brief you on other ways you can become a citizen of Dominica.

The Pros of Dominica’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program

As with most things, you should not base your second citizenship decision on a price point.

Yes, Dominica is the best value option and relatively cheap compared to the US$800,000 asking price for Maltese citizenship, but there are factors, other than cost, to consider.

The pros of Dominica’s economic citizenship are many. It’s been around for so long, so it’s got a solid footing in the industry and can offer applicants many benefits such as:

  • It’s the most affordable: Dominica is just the ticket if you’re a solo applicant looking for a great second passport. It’s tied with Saint Lucia for the cheapest CBI program in the world, provided you go the donation route. The Dominica Investor Visa program was developed with an even lower price tag but comes with more involved stipulations.
  • No tax on your global income: If you don’t reside in the country, your income won’t be taxed. In other words, Dominica’s officials won’t come after your income if you aren’t a resident.
  • Travel Opportunities: Visit Europe’s Schengen zone, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey – among others – when you’re a citizen of Dominica.
  • ‘Fast’ citizenship: You don’t need to pass history or language exams or have an interview in order to obtain a Dominican passport.
  • Citizenship can be inherited: You and your kids can pass on Dominican citizenship to your children. It can be your legacy.
  • You will be a citizen of Dominica for life: Once you obtain your Dominican passport, you will be a citizen of this country. Your citizenship has no expiry date.
  • Dual citizenship is allowed: You can enjoy a Dominican passport and remain a citizen of another country or countries. Along with your Dominican citizenship, you will get the ability to vote and purchase property, as well as the opportunity to live and work in Dominica.
  • Bring the family: Dependent children under the age of 30 can be added to your Dominican citizenship-by-investment application. You can also add dependent parents and grandparents over the age of 55.
  • Optimise your taxes: Dominica has no wealth, gift, inheritance or capital gains tax. It also has double taxation treaties with the US and Caribbean Community (CARICOM), no restrictions on the repatriation of profits or imported capital, several corporate tax incentives, as well as tax relief benefits and export allowance. There are also generous tax holidays and other import duties and tax waivers.
  • A decent network of embassies: Dominica maintains 17 embassies and consulate generals worldwide, 14 of which are located in North America and Europe. The other three are located in Morocco, India and China. 

The Cons of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment

So, as per the above, Dominica has some notable benefits when it comes to its CBI program.

But there are always two sides to a coin. Here are some of the cons that you should consider:

  • It’s expensive if you have a family: Whereas the price for a single applicant is one of the best in the industry, families are let down by Dominica’s CBI program. You can get citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda for a family of five for a US$100,000 donation, plus a processing fee of US$30,000, compared to a donation of US$175,000 and fees of around US$25,000 for a family of five in Dominica.
  • It’s an okay Tier B passport: Dominican citizenship will give you a relatively straightforward Tier B passport. There’s nothing remarkable about its ability to get you into countries that are incredibly difficult to enter.
  • It’s got a long-standing reputation: Dominica’s one of the world’s oldest CBI programs and has developed a reputation over time that’s not always favourable. Although it shouldn’t cause you any problems, just be aware that Dominica’s CBI program has been submerged in various scandals in the past.
  • Passport revocation: While you are technically granted non-revocable citizenship for life in exchange for your donation, Dominican law does give the government power to revoke passports. So far, there’s only been one case in the early 2000s in which citizenship was revoked but Dominica is upgrading to biometric passports, which means they could easily cancel a passport from a distance.
  • It’s been on the EU’s blacklist: Dominica has appeared on the EU’s list of non-compliant jurisdictions in the past, although it has since been exonerated. This means that at some point, the Dominican government chose not to participate in sharing tax and financial information with the EU.
  • External influence: While the Caribbean CBI programs are relatively affordable, the downside is that many of these countries are still highly influenced by the same Western governments that most citizenship applicants try to escape. So, while the US and Canadian governments do not have the power to shut these programs down directly, they certainly have some influence over them.

Your Dominican Citizenship-by-Investment FAQS

How can I apply for Dominican citizenship by investment?

You will need to file an application through an authorised agent. You won’t be able to apply for Dominica’s citizenship personally.

Who is eligible to apply for Dominican citizenship by investment? 

A person older than 18, with a solid economic standing, good health and no criminal record, can apply for Dominican citizenship by investment.

Do I have to travel to Dominica?

You won’t have to travel to or become a resident of Dominica to apply for its economic citizenship.

What are Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment fees?

There is the initial investment amount and, depending on which investment option you choose, the government fees and various application and citizenship processing fees.

How long does it take to get a Dominican passport?

While it can take as little as three months to receive your passport, you can expect the entire process to take approximately three to four months. The Dominica Investor Visa program, however, takes two years to get citizenship.

Can my family come too? 

Yes. Dependents are allowed to be added to your citizenship-by-investment application. All dependent children up to age 30 can be included, and parents and grandparents over the age of 55 can be added too.

Do I have to pay taxes in Dominica?

If you don’t reside in Dominica, you will not be liable to pay any taxes on your worldwide income. If you choose to become a tax resident, bear in mind that Dominica does charge income tax on income generated within the island. 

What Happens Next?

If you’re seeking a ‘budget passport’, the Commonwealth of Dominica’s CBI program is worth considering. It remains the world’s most affordable place to get citizenship, with low government and legal fees and an incredible US$100,000 price tag or a donation of US$50,000 for an entrepreneurial investor.

Dominica has also announced that it will make its due diligence checks stricter, boosting the integrity of the Commonwealth of Dominica CBI program. The country doesn’t want to lose what it’s been working so hard to build for almost three decades and that only makes sense.

But it is no longer the only game in town. 

In fact, while it is tied for first place as the cheapest passport for sale in the Caribbean for individuals, there are cheaper options for married couples and families. But picking citizenship isn’t like selecting which speakers you’re going to buy from Amazon, especially when you’re spending six-figure sums. You need to figure out which passport is best for you.

That’s why it’s always helpful to talk to someone in our team who has gone through the process and can give you honest, objective advice about your situation. 

Make sure to look at the whole picture: where you want to live, travel, and do business. Then, figure out how Dominica is going to factor into your equation. Or if it should at all. Here at Nomad Capitalist, we can help you cover all the bases.

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