Those high net worth individuals who are looking for the perfect citizenship by investment programme will no doubt have very different reasons for their investment choices. James Bowling, CEO of Monarch & Co, a company that specialises in investment programmes around the world, points out that while some investors will be after a better lifestyle for their family, others will be looking purely for investment and business opportunities. “It is important that both the investment location and the programme fit with the investor’s requirements,” says Bowling.
To give investors some guidance, Bowling breaks down some of the best citizenship options for different purposes:
For general citizenship: Bowling says that Portugal and Cyprus offer some of the best programmes for those who are purely looking for a second passport and the benefits of travel, healthcare, lifestyle or working or studying in a European country.
“Portugal is attractive for investors who would like to enjoy the quality of life, great weather and safety that the county has to offer as well as the advantage of being part of the European Union,” says Bowling. However he points out that it will take investors six years and a minimum investment of €500 000.
Cyprus on the other hand offers qualifying investors citizenship in as little as three months; however this comes at a cost. “The Cyprus citizenship by investment programme will cost investors at least €3 million,” says Bowling.
For family: Those looking to secure a better lifestyle for their family with better access to basic services such as health and education as well as more select criteria such as sporting facilities, natural environment and the like, any of the European countries offering citizenship (UK, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Malta) would be good bets. Aside from providing a gateway to the rest of Europe, these countries offer safety and security aspects as well as the right to free movement, settlement and employment across all member states of the EU.
For travel: “South Africans and Africans can be at a disadvantage when it comes to their passports and visa requirements when they travel,” says Bowling. He says this is often one of the main reasons why people opt for a second passport. “The primary advantage to dual citizenship is the ability to travel to and stay in a far wider range of countries with fewer visa requirements and restrictions,” he says.
Bowling points out that Grenada is one of the best options for those who are looking at purely gaining travel benefits from their citizenship investment. “As one of the more affordable programmes, priced at just US$310 000, and one of the fastest with a three month processing time, Grenada citizenship will provide investors the opportunity to obtain visa-free travel to 115 countries including United Kingdom and Schengen—Member countries of Europe.”
For investment: Those looking to purely make an investment in citizenship as a part of a wealth strategy and rand hedge should consider the UK as a good option, according to Bowling. “The UK Citizenship programme is fairly expensive compared to some of the others, however one of the main benefits is that it includes an attractive tax regime for high net worth individuals classed as UK residents, non-domicile,” says Bowling.
Home to London, the world’s leading financial centre, the UK is one of the top business destinations across the globe. Offering a rich and diverse market with world-class industries, the UK is an attractive location for businesses that offers easy access to customers, product innovators, suppliers and partners. Through creating a range of highly attractive conditions for business and investment, the UK is established as one of the world’s major trading nations and the sixth largest economy in the world.
For business: With a booming economy and many business incentives and tax benefits, Mauritius is a viable option for residency by investment programmes for those looking to establish a business in another domicile. “For South Africans or those who live in a SADC country, Mauritius is a great option for expansion of existing business, or for the establishment of new businesses as in addition to a strong, diversified economy are the fiscal benefits such as a flat 15% corporate and personal tax rate, the absence of inheritance and capital gains tax, no foreign exchange controls, trade barriers or quotas and no restrictions on capital repatriation. Furthermore Mauritius has a strong financial and off-shore sector; a stable political environment; modern and reliable IT and telecommunications infrastructure and a comprehensive legal framework, among others,” says Bowling
Bowling points out that Mauritius also ranks extremely highly in terms of business and quality of life, with an abundance of new facilities being developed all over the island from shopping malls, restaurants, office and factories to private schools and state-of-the-art medical centres.
Over the past few years Mauritius has seen sound economic growth and has proven itself as an extremely successful emerging market.
“There are many different residency and citizenship by investment opportunities available, each with its own set of benefits and advantages. Investors need to explore the various options with their individual goals and requirements in mind,” Bowling concludes.