Citizenship of Vanuatu by Investment: A Healthy Alternative to Caribbean Economic Citizenship Programs

Vanuatu is a small island country in the South Pacific that ‘sells’ passports to foreign investors. Vanuatu launched a Citizenship-by-investment program in 2015 and close to 3,000 passports have been issued to foreigners since then. What factors attract foreign investors? How is the Vanuatu program different from other citizenship by investment programs? Below we discuss the main properties of the Vanuatu economic citizenship program and show why you might want to prefer it to Caribbean economic citizenship programs.

Advantages of the Vanuatu citizenship-by-investment programs and its differences from similar programs in other parts of the world

Vanuatu is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and this status brings the country several important advantages. Vanuatu passport holders can enter many national states without visas. Some tensions have recently arisen with Great Britain exactly because of the Vanuatu citizenship-by-investment program. The visa-free arrangements between Vanuatu and the UK have been suspended. The authorities of Vanuatu hope, however, that the issue can be resolved soon.

At the same time, 10-year visas to the USA and Canada are available to citizens of Vanuatu and negotiations about visa-free regimes with Australia and New Zealand are underway.

Vanuatu is the country where you can acquire economic citizenship in the fastest way. Applications for citizenship of the country by investment are processed within 3 to 6 weeks. If you apply for citizenship of a Caribbean country, application processing is seldom going to take less than 3 months. Normally, it takes much more time.

In addition, the Government of Vanuatu has been improving the citizenship-by-investment program since the very beginning and adjusting it to the needs of foreign investors. The due diligence procedures have been becoming more and more efficient while the number of application documents has been growing smaller. Please rest assured that Vanuatu does not issue passports to criminals. To become a Vanuatu citizen, you have to go through very thorough security checks.

When designing the program, the Government of Vanuatu carefully scrutinized citizenship-by-investment programs administered by other countries. Their strong elements were borrowed and their flaws were corrected. These efforts have made the Vanuatu program extremely comfortable for foreign investors. Applications are processed within 4 to 5 weeks on average no application that has reached the Immigration Minister has been turned down thus far. Vanuatu has been able to attract almost US$ 200 million in foreign direct investment since the start of the citizenship-by-investment program in 2015.

You don’t have to live in Vanuatu to keep your passport

You don’t even have to visit Vanuatu to become a citizen of the country: neither prior to applying nor after your application has been approved. You do have to take an oath of allegiance but this can be done in the consulate of Vanuatu in your home country. Moreover, a Vanuatu official can visit you personally in your home country if you are prepared to cover the costs of the trip. During the Covid-19 pandemic, people took oaths of allegiance using videoconferencing applications.

You can hand citizenship of Vanuatu down to your children

If a child is born to you after you have acquired economic citizenship of Vanuatu, it is born a citizen of the country too. A small fee is due but it is used to cover the costs of issuing documents to the new citizen so the fee is negligible.

Law-abiding citizens of (almost) all countries are welcome to apply for Vanuatu citizenship

The applicant for Vanuatu citizenship should not be prosecuted for a criminal offense and should not have felony convictions. If you are wanted nationally or internationally, you also cannot apply for citizenship of Vanuatu. Everybody else is welcome.

Family applications for citizenship are accepted

You can add your spouse and your dependent children of up to 25 years of age to a family application for Vanuatu citizenship. In addition, dependent parents of both spouses 56 or more years old can also be added to a family application.  

Due diligence procedures take little time in Vanuatu

The due diligence checks take from 7 to 14 days in Vanuatu. In other jurisdictions issuing passports to foreign investors, they take between 2 and 5 months.

The Financial Intelligence Unit of the Government of Vanuatu conducts thorough checks. If an applicant for citizenship has been involved in any criminal affair, his/ her application will not be accepted. Vanuatu values the reputation of the program and therefore it does not accept applications from such individuals. Applications from citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and North Korea are not accepted either. For this reason, Vanuatu passports are well-reputed in other countries. It is easy to open a bank account in a reputable bank with a Vanuatu passport. It also gives visa-free access to 122 countries and territories.  

Only a licensed immigration agent can file an application for citizenship to the authorities of Vanuatu on your behalf

You cannot file the application for Vanuatu citizenship on your own. The authorities have issued several licenses to agents that act as intermediaries in the process of citizenship acquisition. We have to issue a serious warning at this point. A few dozen agents have been licensed to provide immigration services in Vanuatu but some of them have not filed a single application since acquiring the license. This fact indicates that you should act with care when choosing the immigration agent whose services you are going to use. The issue becomes even more intricate since the immigration agent is also the person who will pass on your donation to the Government.

Vanuatu applies a highly attractive tax system

The tax system is beneficial in Vanuatu indeed. Residents and non-residents are taxed similarly in the country. Vanuatu does not charge taxes on incomes (personal and corporate), wealth, inheritance, capital gains, capital repatriation, and profits from trading in the stock markets. International Business Companies registered in Vanuatu are exempted from all taxes for the first 20 years of their operations.

If you choose to buy a shelf company in Vanuatu, your corporate and personal income tax is going to be 0%.

Why is Vanuatu’s economic citizenship program less known than Caribbean programs?

The assumption that the citizenship-by-investment program of Vanuatu is less known is actually not exactly correct. It is less known in Europe because Vanuatu is a faraway country for Europeans. The Caribbean economic citizenship programs are more popular with Americans for the same reason: the Caribbean Sea washes American shores.

The Vanuatu citizenship-by-investment program is highly popular in the Middle East. The consulate of Vanuatu in Beirut in particular actively promotes the program in the region. Besides, the geography of applicants for Vanuatu citizenship is rather wide. Applications come from Europeans, Americans, South Africans, the Chinese, and people of other nationalities. You should probably consider applying for citizenship of Vanuatu by investment too.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button