With their perfect climate, abundant nature and 365 fantasy beaches, the beautiful Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda have long been popular with tourists. But, after the global financial crisis in 2008, the government of Antigua and Barbuda decided it needed to take effective action to boost foreign direct investment.
The Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Act was passed in 2013, which allows applicants from anywhere – providing they do not appear on the Citizen by Investment Programme’s restricted countries list – to apply for citizenship in return for dual citizenship for life (once requirements are met), visa-free access to more than 150 countries (including the Schengen area) and no tax on worldwide income, inheritance, capital gains or investment returns. The results have been transformative.
“The Citizenship by Investment Programme [CIP] has received over 1,900 applications from its inception to December 2018,” says Charmaine Donovan, the CIP’s Chief Executive Officer. “After the 2008 global economic crisis, citizens in our source visitor tourism markets – Europe, the UK and the US – experienced a reduction in their disposable incomes and began travelling less frequently. With tourism being the main driver of the economy, the government, in considering various options to jumpstart the economy, saw the CIP as the most effective way to spur investment in the general economy.”
A successful applicant must spend five days on Antigua and Barbuda within five years of being granted citizenship, and also make a financial contribution which is invested into one of four dedicated funds created to support, develop and improve the infrastructure of the islands for everybody. These are the National Development Fund (NDF), Investment in Approved Real Estate, Investment in an Approved Business, and Investment in the University of the West Indies Fund.
The money is therefore ringfenced to ensure it supports the development and improvement of the country’s essential infrastructure, making it more attractive to new citizens. The minimum investment is set at $100,000 for a family of up to four persons, but this is a one-off payment. The application does not require a minimum net worth, and provides access to a country that has a history of stable government and currency, a well-educated workforce and a well-established legal and regulatory framework. Plus, it offers the perfect excuse to visit one of the world’s natural paradises.