The Caribbean has been a popular destination among holidaymakers and businesspeople for years. Increasingly, that’s also the case among global investors. Since the foundation of its second citizenship programme in 2013, Antigua and Barbuda has been helping accelerate that trajectory, for a number of good reasons. In this article we take a look at how you can secure second citizenship from this twin-island nation.
The Caribbean has been a popular destination among holidaymakers and business people for years. Increasingly, that’s also the case with global investors. Since the foundation of its second citizenship programme in 2013, Antigua and Barbuda has been helping accelerate that trajectory, for a number of good reasons.
Firstly, the programme offers exceptional global mobility, unlocking over 130 countries on visa-free or visa-on-arrival terms. Secondly, the islands are a popular relocation destination, pairing a luxurious lifestyle with high political stability. Thirdly, the three different investment options give you huge freedom of choice over how and where to invest.
Fourthly… well, you’ll have to read on.
Because although Antigua and Barbuda is one of the newest second citizenship programmes, it’s got the credentials to be one of the most popular. Offering an exceptional passport, a stable political landscape and an attractive tax regime, this island nation should definitely be on your list.
So let’s look at the key benefits Antigua and Barbuda can offer you.
The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda offers an exceptional passport, a stable political landscape and an attractive tax regime
Fast route to citizenship: You can obtain full citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda in around three months, making this one of the fastest second citizenship programmes. Compared to some residency-to-citizenship programmes that could take as long as six years, here the three-month turnaround is more than impressive. So if you’re impatient and want to move quickly, second citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda is a solid choice.
Permanent lifetime guarantee: Once you’ve been granted second citizenship here, your citizenship cannot be taken away based on policy changes. This ensures your investment is protected against future government whimsy. This applies to your right to hold an Antigua and Barbuda passport as well. Although you must apply to renew your passport every five years for a nominal fee, your right to do so cannot be impeded unless you’ve committed treason or have been shown to have obtained citizenship duplicitously.
Simpler travel to 130+ countries: As a member of many notable international organisations, Antigua and Barbuda is respected on the world stage. From the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the British Commonwealth, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), or the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP), Antigua and Barbuda is very much part of the club. As such, its passport holders enjoy freedom to travel to over 130 countries on visa-free or visa-on-arrival terms. This includes the UK, the Schengen area, Singapore and Hong Kong. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, your Antigua and Barbuda passport makes life easier.
Broad investment options: Antigua and Barbuda’s second citizenship programme offers a broad range of investment options to suit every investor. You can choose to invest a non-refundable donation of USD 200,000 into the National Development Fund, or into business as either a sole or joint investor, starting at USD 400,000.
Alternatively, you can invest USD 400,000 or more into real estate. Now is a particularly good time to invest in real estate on the islands, as demand for hotels far exceeds supply during peak season. Robert De Niro recently partnered in an investment of USD 250m in a luxury hotel development on Barbuda, which should tell you all you need to know.
Significant tax benefits: Already an attractive tax location, Antigua and Barbuda only became more so by abolishing personal income tax as of April 2016. If you spend less than 183 days per year ‘in country’ you won’t pay worldwide income tax either, and neither capital gains nor inheritance tax are payable. Furthermore, the corporate tax rate is 25% with a generous 50-year exemption programme for IBCs. There are many other incentives and tax breaks available too.
Antigua and Barbuda abolished personal income tax as of April 2016.
Family friendly programme: Antigua and Barbuda’s second citizenship-by-investment programme is attractive if you want to include family in your application. For an additional investment, you can easily include a spouse, children under 25 and dependents over 65.
Enjoy a tropical paradise: The islands are a highly sought after location, so you’ll be in good company when you holiday here. In fact, more than 200,000 people visit Antigua and Barbuda annually. It is a particularly famous yachting destination, with globally renowned races and shows attracting thousands each year. The islands are a veritable tropical paradise, enjoying average temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees all year, with about nine hours of daily sunshine. A staggering 365 postcard-worthy beaches mean you can enjoy those sunny climes on a different beach for every day of the year.
Create a stable new lifestyle: Antigua and Barbuda offers a westernised lifestyle that has proved popular among many global investors. Should you live here, you’ll become part of a bustling island community with a thriving service-based economy. Ranking highly against its neighbours when it comes to ease of doing business, there is also the large, modern VC Bird International Airport to make travel from the islands simple, with direct flights to the UK, US and Europe as well as many Caribbean locations. There’s even talk of Emirates opening a direct flight from Dubai to Antigua in Spring 2017.
The process: Securing Antigua and Barbuda citizenship
Let’s start with this: You can hope to secure full citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda within three months.
So how does it break down?
Applicants need to be deemed a reputable addition to the country, with a clean criminal record and bill of health, and must have no previous visa refusals from any country with which Antigua and Barbuda have visa-free travel agreements.
Those conditions met, you have several investment options available. What follows is an overview, and of course in-depth research is required should you decide to move forward.
So, the first is a non-refundable deposit into the National Development Fund (NDF). This is a non-profit fund dedicated to furthering island prosperity through investment in government-sponsored projects. This starts at USD 200,000 for a single applicant, plus government processing fees. Originally the government fee was USD 50,000 per person for applicant, spouse and dependents aged 18-25 or 65+, plus USD 25,000 for dependents under 18. However, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) is currently waiving the government fee for dependents other than spouses, for the NDF option only.
Alternatively, many investors are attracted by government-approved real estate. Your investment here is USD 400,000, plus the same government processing fees outlined above, not including the CIU waiver. (You can also invest via a non-profit company provided you meet various rules regarding beneficial ownership and issuing of shares.) You must hold this property for a minimum of five years unless you’re making another approved real estate purchase under the programme. After this, you’re free to sell and recuperate your investment.
Many investors are attracted by government-approved real estate, where the amount required is USD 400,000.
Finally, there’s a third option available to investors: Investment in business. Any existing or proposed business must be approved by the CIU. There are two categories here. You can either make an investment of at least USD 1.5m individually or you can make a joint investment by two or more people of at least USD 5m in total. Each individual must invest at least USD 400,000 total. Government fees apply as with real estate.
For all these investment options, there are due diligence fees for each applicant. These are USD 7,500 for main applicant and spouse, USD 4,000 for dependents over 65 and between 18-25, and USD 2,000 for dependents aged 12-17. Dependents aged 11 and under pay no due diligence fees. The due diligence fees plus 10% of the government fee is due on submission of your application to CIU. When you get your letter of approval, you then pay the remaining government fees, and make your complete investment. Then you’ll receive a certificate of registration for all applying family members, and your next job will be collecting your new passports.
To maintain your new citizenship, you need only spend five days or more on the islands over five years. That requirement fulfilled, you can renew your passport every five years indefinitely.
Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship-by-investment programme hasn’t been around for long, but citizenship here is already becoming highly regarded. The process is straightforward and fast, and the rewards are more than worth the investment, particularly given the attractive real estate option. If you’re looking to build your investment portfolio, second citizenship with Antigua and Barbuda offers life-changing returns.
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