Until recently, very few people were interested in faraway Caribbean countries. Even now, it is difficult to tell at a glance where St. Kitts and Nevis are located. However, it has changed since more and more celebrities started applying for a passport of St. Kitts and Nevis.
In fact, several small island states in the British Commonwealth offer wealthy foreign investors their citizenship in order to boost the economy with foreign investments. So let us find out what attracts people to Saint Kitts and Nevis, what benefits you will get, having applied for a “golden passport” and whether this decision has risks.
Advantages and disadvantages of a St. Kitts and Nevis passport
Imperial & Legal decided not only to list the five obvious benefits of a Caribbean Golden Passport, but also to assess the associated risks in order to give you more information for making a decision.
1. The Citizenship by Investment program was launched in 1984 and is considered one of the oldest and most reliable not only in the Caribbean region, but also in the rest of the world.
Since the program has been running for quite a long time, all the procedures associated with obtaining an economic citizenship are perfectly developed, so you will spend exactly as much time as you plan. On the other hand, during all the years of the program’s existence, the country’s government has been under pressure from Western countries, and it is possible that one day they will be “caught up” so that the rules for obtaining citizenship by investment will be seriously tightened.
2. A St. Kitts and Nevis passport costs an investor considerably less than an economic citizenship in Europe in jurisdictions such as Malta or Cyprus.
In some articles, claiming to be objective, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica or Saint Lucia are held up as examples of Caribbean countries, where passport application will be cheaper. But for some reason they ignore the fact that these islands have different tax systems, different living and business conditions and different number of countries with which they have signed agreements on visa-free regime or simplified procedures for obtaining visas. Not to mention the fact that such elementary issues as the process of getting a passport or additional charges for a passport application are not taken into account – whether it is one applicant or an entire family.
Tip: you’d better choose St. Kitts and Nevis if the advantages of this jurisdiction outweigh the seeming cheapness of other Caribbean islands’ passports.
3. Citizens of this island state have an opportunity to travel freely to more than 150 countries, including the states of the Schengen Agreement, the UK and Singapore. In the U.S. the holder of the “golden passport” of St. Kitts and Nevis has an ability to apply for a visa of categories inaccessible to other citizens.
The signing of agreements on visa-free travel or a simplified procedure for visas for entering application is a reciprocal process, so there is always a risk that one of the parties will suspend it. In any case, now the islanders and their fellow citizens-investors have much more opportunities to travel and work abroad than other nationals.
4. St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship can be issued very quickly within 2 months for an additional charge. Many investors have never been to their second “homeland”, because the procedure for obtaining a “golden passport” does not require their personal presence and is conducted remotely.
It is possible to accelerate obtaining a second passport for an additional fee:
- Main applicant – $25,000
- Other family members – $500-$20,000 (it depends on age and relationship).
5. There is a favourable tax regime on the islands. Local residents don’t pay an income tax. There are no gift, inheritance or capital gains taxes.
Important clarification: a new citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis or as it is written in Wikipedia – “kittitian”, can start using all these benefits only if a person is a tax resident of the country. This means that you have to spend most of your tax period on the islands.
To the additional benefits of the St. Kitts and Nevis passport are often added:
- Full confidentiality, which is important for citizens of countries where the law prohibits dual citizenship, for example Austria.
- The relative ease of opening an account in island banks. However, they do not explain why this is necessary, if banks are happy to open for a resident of St. Kitts and Nevis a foreign currency account in representative offices of reputable financial institutions in Europe.
And if you want to register an international company on the islands, its foreign income will not be subject to a corporation tax.
How is the golden passport of St. Kitts and Nevis issued?
Finally, let’s talk about how to obtain citizenship by investment. Of course, only an immigration adviser will be able to answer this question in detail, but we will consider two main points.
1. The rules do not allow the applicant to apply directly to government agencies that oversee the Citizenship by Investment program.
In order to get a St. Kitts and Nevis “golden passport” in exchange for investments, you need to seek professional legal advice in a law firm, which is a licensed agent of the government investment program. It sounds like a hidden advertisement, but it is only a fact of objective reality. The island authorities are not prepared to communicate with the applicant directly, without an intermediary.
On the other hand, the specialists of a rightly chosen law firm will help you when you need to collect all the necessary documents and will even conduct background checks of the applicant for credibility, which will maximize your chances to obtain citizenship. The participation of an intermediary ensures the remoteness of the procedure, which allows you to get a passport without leaving the country.
2. The investment in the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis is simple. There are two ways of investment: to make a non-refundable contribution in development funds or invest in the purchase of resort real estate.
The Sustainable Growth Fund invests in building schools, developing the healthcare system, construction of infrastructure and maintaining the integrity of the cultural heritage. The minimum amount of a non-refundable donation to the fund is $150,000, not including additional fees.
Investment in holiday resorts is much more interesting, because if you buy a share in a hotel for $200,000, after 7 years you can resell it at a profit for yourself and get your money back. And if you are willing to invest $400,000, the term of mandatory ownership is only 5 years.
By the way, local authorities have tried to minimize the risks of investment in real estate. Since some time in St. Kitts and Nevis, investors can invest only in reliable projects. Therefore, the right choice of intermediary companies for applying for a “golden passport” will also help in this matter. As a rule, serious companies have already “their” reliable developers whose properties actually exist and are insured against natural disasters.