Several years ago I wrote about the Mediterranean island nation of Malta offering citizenship and a passport to most anyone willing to pony up US$850,000 for the privilege.
Malta’s potential clients included Americans eager to move to and/or travel freely among the European Union (EU) nations and many other countries, some of which might not welcome US travelers.
But the first nation to offer citizenship and passports for sale was the Caribbean dual-island state of St. Kitts and Nevis (more formally, the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis), way back in 1984.
Best known for its beaches, mountains, and tropical atmosphere — as well as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton in Nevis — the Leeward Islands’ destination is the smallest nation in the Americas, both in size and population. An 18-mile scenic railway circles the entire island of St. Kitts (Nevis is even smaller), and Vervet monkeys are said to outnumber the 53,000 human inhabitants.
Other Nations Join In
Since then, a number of other nations ranging from the Caribbean to Europe and the South Pacific have jumped into the market, just as many Americans are threatening to jump ship based on the outcome of the next elections.
Among European countries, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Austria, Spain, and Turkey have all dipped their toes into these somewhat murky waters, seeking a source of easy cash – often requiring prospective citizens to make real estate investments ranging from US$500,000 to more than US$1 million. New Zealand also has a pricey program.
Caribbean citizenships (including Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada) tend to be somewhat cheaper. But St. Kitts has long been known as the “gold standard” for these schemes.
Just Make a Mandatory “Contribution”
And now St. Kitts is offering perhaps the best citizenship deal of all: passports for a family of four for just US$150,000, in the form of a mandatory non-refundable “contribution” to the islands’ “Sustainable Growth Fund.” The fee for applicant, spouse, and two dependent children would normally total nearly US$200,000.
Beyond the included two children, each additional dependent child can be added for just US$10,000.
You can even add any of your dependent, childless siblings under 30 for $US20,000 each, as well as dependent parents and grandparents under certain circumstances. (Older baby boomers: take note, and forward this to your grown children if applicable.)
But hurry: as of now the offer is good only until the end of 2021 — making it a great stocking stuffer. (Imagine the kids waking up on Christmas morning to delight in these colorful little passports nestled among the Snickers bars and candy canes!)
This Deal Is Hard to Pass up
The benefits of buying St. Kitts citizenship include:
The right (but not the obligation), to live and work in St. Kitts and Nevis. Note: you not only don’t have to live on the islands, nice as they are, you don’t even have to set foot on them.
Citizenship may be passed to future generations. (Your grandkids will thank you!)
You can retain citizenship in your native country. St. Kitts recognizes dual citizenship (just make sure your native country does as well).
Visa-free travel to more than 155 destinations, including the EU.
You can become a new citizen in as few as 60 days.
And there are other perks:
No interview is required, though “due diligence” checks are conducted to ensure that the applicant is of “good character.” (These checks do cost US$7,500 extra.)
You don’t need to know English, though — St. Kitts being an ex-British colony — it’s widely spoken there.
You will not be subject to income, wealth, or inheritance taxes.
Alternatively, you can also gain St. Kitts citizenship by investing in island real estate, though that’s much more expensive.
But Keep in Mind…
While there’s no reason to think St. Kitts’ decades-old program will come a-cropper, one country — Cyprus — did abandon its citizenship-for-sale in 2020 amid accusations of corruption, and revoked 45 passports (out of a total of 7,000 sold).
It’s also possible that if too many people start showing up with passports from this tiny country, that immigration officials in other countries will start to look askance and crack down on them.
And, of course, myriad COVID-related travel restrictions still apply around the globe — including for those traveling to St. Kitts.
But the good news, as noted earlier, is that you can obtain your new citizenship without ever having to get on a plane or ship — something I never thought I’d write.
Top photo credit: St. Kitts Tourism Authority