The Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment program might not be the most well-known visa scheme, but it's surely an interesting one.
What usually comes to most people's minds when they think of Vanuatu is paradise – heaven on earth. And why not? Vanuatu indeed exudes that paradise-like aura with its exotic and calm sceneries. Vanuatu is an island nation located in Oceania. It is composed of 80 connected islands.
Being close to the South Pacific Ocean, this country is blessed with alluring tropical rainforests, clear waters, and exotic mountains. Asides from the natural blessings that Mother Nature bestowed on Vanuatu, the country is peaceful and relatively flourishing. This is why the country is a dream destination for not just tourists but also foreigners (expats) seeking a good destination to call home.
So, do you desire to gain Vanuatu's citizenship? Well, there are several ways to get it, and one of them is the "citizenship by investment."
Thanks to Vanuatu's citizenship by investment, foreigners can now invest in the country and, through that, gain the country's citizenship in as short as two months! Isn't that thrilling?
Here's an extensive guide on obtaining Vanuatu citizenship without stress.
Table of Contents
- What is the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program?
- Benefits of Vanuatuan Citizenship
- Vanuatu’s Citizenship Requirements
- Document Requirements
- How To Apply
- Restricted Rights Attached to Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment
- The Cost of Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment Application
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program?
Also referred to as the Vanuatu Citizenship Development Support Program (DSP), the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program was introduced in 2017 by the Vanuatuan government to boost international investments in the country. This scheme enables international investors to qualify for Vanuatuan citizenship by investing in the country for the country's development and acceleration.
The Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program is the only program of its kind in the South Pacific. It's also the fastest way for international individuals to get the alluring country's citizenship. Although, of course, this scheme doesn't come cheap (in fact, it's hardly for the low or middle class). Yet, it's certainly worth it if you have the money. Why? It's stress-free, fast, and gives you the citizens' right and access to one of the most enticing and peaceful countries in the world.
2. Benefits of Vanuatuan Citizenship?
Vanuatu's citizenship offers various benefits. It is part of the reasons why people keep flocking there. Here are some of the major benefits of becoming a citizen of Vanuatu.
- Peace and Quiet
Wouldn't it be nice for you to take some time off from your hectic life and busy city to enjoy a calm, paradise-like destination? Well, Vanuatu offers that. The country is one of the perfect destinations for vacationing or even working from home: no stress or busy city life. Yet, you still get to enjoy the beautiful beaches, nice weather, and lush tropical forests.
Also, without mincing words, these are chaotic times. Take, for instance, the coronavirus pandemic. It affected all regions of the world, but highly populated countries and cities felt the brunt the most. Well, instead of being stuck in areas like that during or after the lockdown, people with citizenship in countries like Vanuatu decided to fly down and wait out the storm. You could say that Vanuatu is your perfect escape destination from crises.
Vanuatu is not only peaceful, but it's also very secure. Living here practically puts you away from most of the security crises the world is experiencing. In fact, Vanuatu is considered one of the most peaceful nations in the world.
It also helps that all foreign entries into the country are properly checked and verified before allowed access. And the citizenship approval requirements are thorough. So, only the right people that will add value to the country are granted citizenship. Terrorism – it doesn't exist there. Petty crimes – very low!
- Visa-free Access to 129 countries
One of the best advantages of being a citizen of Vanuatu, is that the passport grants you visa-free travel to 129 countries around the world, including the UK, EU, and Hong Kong. With Vanuatu's passport, you can spend up to 6 months in the UK per year and up to 90 days within any Schengen member state without a visa.
Moreover, with a Vanuatu passport, your visa processing will be fast-tracked when traveling to Commonwealth countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These benefits related to traveling are one of the major reasons people in business are seriously eyeing Vanuatu citizenship.
- Tax Considerations
Another advantage of the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Program is that if you decide to live there fully, you wouldn't need to pay any tax on your outside income (worldwide revenue). There is also no tax on your personal income, inheritance, or gifts. After all, who doesn't want to live in a tax-friendly country, no matter how much money they make?
- Family Entitlements
When you get your Vanuatuan citizenship, your family also gets to benefit from it. Why? Certain members of your family are eligible for a Vanuatuan passports due to their connections to you. The following members of your family qualify for Vanuatuan citizenship through you:
- Your spouse and dependent children (less than 18 years old);
- Your parents and grandparents;
- Your spouse's parents and grandparents.
3. Vanuatu Citizenship Requirements
There are certain requirements you need to consider before applying for Vanuatu citizenship. Without these being in place, you run the risk of you application being rejected on the spot. Here are the requirements:
- You must be over 18 years old and under 65 years old when applying for citizenship;
- You need to make a minimum investment of $130,000 into the country's economy;
- You need to have a clean criminal record;
- You need to have no less than $250,000 or its equivalent in your bank account;
- The citizenship by investment program is not open to nationals from Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Yemen unless the investor/citizenship applicant has a permanent residence outside those countries and has lived outside those countries for over five consecutive years.
Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment Requirements
To get Vanuatu citizenship, you must make a non-refundable contribution — also known as a donation — to Vanuatu's local development fund. This donation aims to support the country's infrastructure, development, and economic growth in the region. The invested sum depends on how many applicants there are.
The minimum investment requirement for one person is $130,000 or $180,000 for a family of four. Additional dependents can be added for an extra fee of $25,000 each. To prove that this requirement can be met, you must show proof of having no less than $250,000 in your bank account.
4. Document Requirements
To apply for Vanuatu citizenship by investment, you’d need to present the following documents:
- A certified copy of your valid passport;
- A completed citizenship application form;
- A certified copy of your valid national identity card;
- Police clearance from your current place of residence;
- A slip certifying that you passed Vanuatu's due diligence check;
- If you’re married or divorced, your marriage or divorce certificate is also required;
- Certified medical clearance certificate;
- Your curriculum vitae with references;
- Four colored passport photographs;
- Your proof of sufficient funds.
5. How to Apply
After getting your documents in place, these are the steps you’ll need to follow to apply for your Vanuatu citizenship. If you follow these processes proactively, your citizenship should be approved in no time.
- Put together the necessary documents like your passport, national identity card, police clearance, medical clearance certificate, proof of funds, etc., along with your application form;
- Pay the $5,000 application fee to start the due diligence process;
- Next, file your application through an authorized DSP agent;
- You’d need to wait for at least two weeks to receive your principal approval letter from the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission (VCC);
- Next, you will need to pay them a certain percentage of the investment of $130,000 (or more depending on whether you’re applying alone or along with your family). You don’t need to make the entire investment until you receive approval from the VCC;
- If your applications were approved, you will receive your letter of approval for citizenship from the VCC;
- Next, you need to take an oath of allegiance;
- After that, you will receive your citizenship certificate and passport at the Vanuatu consulate nearest to you.
· FIU Due Diligence Check: 4-10 days.
· DSP Approval Letter from VCC: 20-30 days.
· Citizenship Certificate and Passport Processing: 7-15 days (after citizenship application approval).
Due Diligence Check
All applicants for Vanuatu’s citizenship must pass the due diligence checks conducted by the FIU unit of Vanuatu’s government. Without this being passed, the citizenship application won’t be approved. This is one of the first significant steps during the application process. This is because Vanuatu endeavors to ensure that only right-standing individuals are accepted as citizens.
The FUI unit also authorizes DSP/VCC agents to conduct the preliminary due diligence by checking that the citizenship applicants didn’t falsify documents, come from questionable backgrounds, have criminal backgrounds, or lack the required funds.
Restricted Rights Attached to Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment
Foreigners who get approved and receive their Vanuatu passport through the Citizenship by Investment program have some restricted privileges, mainly because they are primarily dual citizens. These rights are only enjoyed by indigenous citizens. All these restrictions are covered in Vanuatu’s constitution.
These are some of the attached restrictions:
- You can’t be involved in Vanuatu politics;
- You can’t hold or serve in any public office;
- You should not be affiliated with any political party in Vanuatu, let alone form one;
- You can’t stand as a candidate or vote in the next elections (the general election for members of parliament, the election for members of Provincial Government Council, or the election for members of the Municipal Council).
What is Special About Vanuatu’s Citizenship?
With a Vanuatuan passport, you can travel visa-free to 128 countries. In 2021, the Henley Passport Index have ranked the Vanuatuan passport as the 38th most powerful passport in the world. In 2015, Vanuatu signed a mutual visa waiver agreement with Schengen Area countries. This gave Vanuatuans the right to travel to EU Schengen countries without a visa. Asides from the Schengen countries, Vanuatu passport holders can travel visa-free to the United Kingdom, Israel, Ireland, Russia, among many others.
The Cost of Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment Application
The cost of Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment is an investment to the tune of $130,000 in the Vanuatu Development Support Program. Additional compulsory fees include:
- Application fee- $5,000
- Security background check - $3,500
- Passport processing - $160
- Citizenship certificate - $120
You’d also need to pay some optional fees if you want to bring along other family members. Note that fees may vary, and that these numbers are based on current available information as of writing.
Vanuatu Bitcoin Citizenship Program
Vanuatu is the first country to accept bitcoin as payment for citizenship by investment program. You should be aware, though, that you can’t directly pay in bitcoin as the investment. Instead, you can process your payment in bitcoin by sending your payment's equivalence in bitcoin value to an authorized agent. The agent then remits the sum to the Vanuatu government in dollars.
Of course, since this is something you want to put your hard-earned money into, hoping to receive something worth it, you may have lots of questions. Well, we got you covered.
These are some of the questions you might have regarding Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program, as well as answers to them.
Is Vanuatu a tax-free country?
Vanuatu have no tax on corporate income, capital gains, estate, inheritance, or other personal income. But the government does have a 15% value-added tax (VAT) on all goods and services.
Before 2018, Vanuatu had no affair or concern with people’s international income, but on 26 June 2018, Vanuatu joined OECD's international effort to fight against tax evasion. With this, Vanuatu implemented the CRS tax-reporting system to monitor tax evasion and avoidance locally and internationally.
Do I need to make the entire investment at the start of my application?
No. You only need to make 10% of the investment fee first. If and once your citizenship is approved, you’d need to pay the total sum.
How much does Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment scheme cost?
Vanuatu’s government has a fixed minimum price. So, you can’t pay less than that but you could pay more if you have the financial capacity. $130,000 is the payment for a single applicant, $150,000 for a couple, and $165,000 for a family of 3 that comprises the couple and a child. A family of 4 would need to pay $180,000 (a couple with two children). For more family members being added, an additional sum gets added. And of course, all these are asides from other accompanying fees.
Can stateless people apply for Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment?
Yes, but they’d need to showcase verifiable documents to prove their real identity.
What are the visa-free countries one can access with Vanuatu’s passport?
Vanuatu’s passport grants you visa-free access to 128 countries, including the Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Singapore, Israel, Russia, etc.
What makes Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment so special?
Vanuatu is the only pacific country that runs an official citizenship by investment program. It is a tax-free country, one of few countries in the world free of Covid-19, visa-free access to several countries, high security, and less application process stress.
How much time does it take to process and receive my Vanuatu passport?
Among the citizenship by investment programs by other countries, Vanuatu has the fastest processing time. The process takes less than two months. And, if all your documents are in order, your application can be processed in just about a month. And no physical visit is required.
Can I invest in real estate towards the citizenship by investment program?
No, real estate is not attached to the citizenship by investment scheme. But this might be put in place in the future.
Do I need to go to Vanuatu to receive my passport and citizenship certificate?
No, you don’t need to go to Vanuatu to get your citizenship certificate and passport. All you need to do is visit the Vanuatu consulate nearest you or get it from an authorized agent.
What countries are ineligible for the citizenship by investment program?
Citizens of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Yemen cannot apply for Vanuatu citizenship by investment program. Their application might be accepted if they’ve lived (and still living in an open country) for over five years and provide evidence of permanent residency in another country asides from their restricted home country.
Is the oath of allegiance required before receiving the citizenship certificate and passport?
Yes, it would help if you took the oath of allegiance before receiving your citizenship certificate and passport. The oath takes just about 30 minutes. You can take the pledge in Vanuatu or the consulate. You can also have an immigration officer visit your authorized agent’s office, and then you take your oath there. if an immigration officer is to visit your agent so you can take your oath, an additional charge of $5,000 applies.
What is the FIU check?
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Vanuatu does background checks of all would-be citizens and their family members. The unit checks their source of funds, criminal record, sanctions, e.t.c. to be sure that they are responsible members of the society that won’t cause any harm to Vanuatu, the indigenous citizens, or the country’s reputation.
Only applicants who pass the FIU check can be granted citizenship. The fee for the FIU check is $2,000 (per person). Most times, the check is completed between 4-7 days.
Are there any quotas for Vanuatu's citizenship by investment program?
No, there’s none. All eligible applicants are considered, and if their application is successful, they become a citizen.
Can I change my name after getting my citizenship certificate?
If you are to change your name after getting your citizenship, you need to apply with an affidavit for a name change. You’d also need to give credible reasons for the change of name. More checks might be conducted to ensure you aren’t trying to evade tax or a criminal record.
How long is the Vanuatu passport valid for?
The citizenship issued to you is for life as long as you remain a responsible member of the society. But for your passport itself, as of 2019, the validity has been increased to 10 years. Of course, you can renew it once it expires.
Does Vanuatu publish the names of individuals granted citizenship by investment or report the names to other countries?
No. To protect the privacy of all investors-turned-citizens, no names are published or reported to other countries.
Does Vanuatu offer commonwealth citizenship?
Yes. Vanuatu is a commonwealth country, and so all its citizens are commonwealth citizens. As a commonwealth citizen, you can also receive consular assistance from British embassies and consulates in foreign non-Commonwealth nations where Vanuatu does not have established diplomatic ties.
Does Vanuatu guarantee citizenship for investors?
The granting of Vanuatu citizenship is at the government's sole discretion, whether you are an investor or not. You don’t need to pay your entire investment sum until after your citizenship application is approved. The government of Vanuatu reserves the right to approve or deny your application.
Does Vanuatu have any physical residence conditions?
No. You aren’t required to visit or live in Vanuatu after receiving your passport.
How can I get a Vanuatu resident card?
You need to rent a place or buy a property in Vanuatu to receive the permanent resident card.
Can Vanuatu revoke the citizenship granted to investors?
Yes. They can if the investor is found to be involved in fraud, gross tax evasion, or wanted by the law enforcement agencies of other countries for a severe crime.