Numerous countries provide individuals with the option to acquire citizenship through investment in the local economy. These programs are appealing to investors, as obtaining local citizenship often enhances travel opportunities, grants access to world-class education and healthcare systems, and provides access to investment services and business prospects.
Saint Lucia is among such nations. This small Caribbean island state is increasingly recognized as a popular choice for acquiring dual citizenship. According to the international Citizenship by Investment Index, Saint Lucia ranked as the third-best country in the world in 2022, having secured the top spot the previous year. The CBI Index evaluates numerous factors, including nine key indicators:
- Freedom of movement,
- Standard of living,
- Minimum investment outlay to get a passport,
- Mandatory travel or residence in the country,
- Citizenship timeline,
- Ease of processing,
- Due diligence,
- Passports for family members, and
- Certainty of the country's investing programme.
Read on to learn about who can get a passport from Saint Lucia, how much it costs and what the requirements are.
Key Facts about Citizenship by Investment in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia initiated its citizenship by investment program in 2015. Foreign investors can select from the following options:
- Non-refundable contribution to the National Economic Fund
- Purchase of real estate
- Investment in government bonds
- Investment in business
The minimum required investment in Saint Lucia's economy is $100,000. Applicants are not obligated to reside in the country, obtain residency, undergo a language exam, or renounce their existing citizenship.
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Who Can Apply for Saint Lucian Citizenship?
Individuals aged 18 years or older are eligible to apply for a Saint Lucian passport. Investors must demonstrate mental competence, provide evidence of legal income sources, possess a clean criminal record, and not have faced rejected citizenship or residency applications in countries that maintain a visa waiver agreement with Saint Lucia.
The investor's family members can also obtain citizenship alongside them. This includes the main applicant's spouse, children, parents, and siblings. You have the option to include them in your application either simultaneously or within five years after obtaining a Saint Lucian passport.
However, there are certain age restrictions for the investor's family members. For instance, children must be under 30 years old, parents must be below 55 years of age, and siblings must be 18 years old or younger. Authorities conduct background checks on all individuals included in the application who are over 16 years old. This process is referred to as 'Due Diligence.'
To secure citizenship for your children or parents, you must demonstrate their dependency on you. Investor's siblings can also be eligible for citizenship if they are unmarried and have received permission from their parents or guardians to change or acquire dual citizenship.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of obtaining citizenship in Saint Lucia varies depending on the investment program you select.
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A Contribution to the National Economic Fund
The minimum investment is $100,000. If you include your spouse in the application, the cost will rise to $140,000. Obtaining Saint Lucian citizenship for a family of four individuals amounts to $150,000. In the event that a family consists of five or more members, the investor must pay the base fee of $150,000 plus an additional $150,000 for each family member starting with the fifth. It's important to note that the contribution is non-refundable.
Purchase of Real Estate
The government of Saint Lucia has compiled a list of approved properties that qualify for obtaining citizenship. These properties include luxury resorts and high-end real estate. In this scenario, an investor is required to purchase a share in a property or a hotel suite, with a minimum investment of $200,000, regardless of the investor's family size. In addition to the investment, there is also a fee to be paid:
- $30,000 for an investor
- $45,000 for an investor and spouse
- $10,000 for each family member 18 years old or older
- $5,000 for family members under the age of 18
The positive news is that you have the option to sell the acquired property after five years while retaining your passport.
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Purchase of Government Bonds
You can invest in $300,000 worth of non-interest-bearing government bonds of Saint Lucia, which can be redeemed after five years, allowing you to recover your investment without affecting your citizenship status. Additionally, there is an administrative fee of $50,000, and neither the bond amount nor the fee is contingent on the size of your family.
A Business Project in Saint Lucia
This is the most costly pathway to obtaining Saint Lucian citizenship, necessitating a minimum investment of $3.5 million in a government-approved business venture. Eligible projects include restaurants, cruise ports, marinas, bridges, roads, highways, agricultural enterprises, pharmaceutical companies, or research institutes.
This programme also obliges you to create at least three jobs. However, if there are several investors, the investment must be of at least $6,000,000 and there must be at least six new jobs. Each investor is to pay a minimum of $1,000,000.
Moreover, you must also pay the administrative fee, which is $50,000 for an investor and $25,000 for each family member.
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Regardless of the pathway to Saint Lucian citizenship you select, there are additional costs associated with Due Diligence. This includes a fee of $7,500 for the investor and $5,000 for each family member aged 16 years or older. In addition, applicants are required to cover the application processing fee, which amounts to $2,000 for the investor and $1,000 for each family member.
How to Get a Saint Lucian Passport: An Example
Let's consider a scenario where you've chosen to pursue citizenship through an investment in the National Economic Fund. You wish to include your spouse and two 17-year-old children in your application. In such a case, the expenses would be as follows:
- An investment payment – $150,000
- a due diligence check of $22,500 ($7,500 for the main applicant and $5,000 for each family member)
- A processing fee of $5,000: $2,000 for the investor and $1,000 for each family member
So, the total cost of getting Saint Lucian citizenship by investment for this family is $177,500.
The Application Process
All applications for Saint Lucian citizenship are submitted to the Citizenship by Investment Unit. The entire process consists of several stages:
- Collecting the documents. The investor must provide notarised copies of the documents in English. The list includes:
- Copies of either passport or ID and birth certificate,
- An application form for citizenship by investment,
- A form to prove your investments, and
- A medical certificate.
- Submitting the documents to the CIU. You do not have to come to Saint Lucia to submit your application as this can be done online.
- Going through a document check. The CIU will check whether you have submitted the whole package and see if the papers are filled in correctly.
- Due Diligence. This procedure takes about three months. The authorities will run a thorough background check on you and other applicants and evaluate the legal status of all your documents.
- Getting preliminary approval. If the investor meets all the requirements, the CIU sends a written approval of the application.
- Making investments. Next, the investor has 60 days to pay the fees and 90 days to invest either in the form of contribution, purchasing real estate, or buying government bonds.
- Getting a passport. Once the money is transferred, the investor and other family members included in the application receive a citizenship certificate. The next step is to apply for the passport.
Citizenship in Saint Lucia is indefinite, and you are not required to relinquish your existing citizenship, as Saint Lucia recognizes dual citizenship. The initial passport is valid for five years, necessitating a subsequent application for renewal. Renewed passports are then valid for ten years.
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Benefits of Saint Lucian Citizenship
The Saint Lucian passport offers numerous remarkable advantages. For instance, it grants visa-free access to more than 140 countries, encompassing nations within the Schengen Area, the UK, Singapore, South Korea, and countries across North and South America. Saint Lucian citizens are eligible for a 10-year tourist visa to the USA, enabling unrestricted travel within the country and allowing stays of up to six months annually.
Saint Lucian citizenship is equally appealing to entrepreneurs. Saint Lucia does not impose capital gains or profits tax on income generated abroad. Additionally, companies with a turnover of less than 400,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($148,000) are exempt from paying VAT.
In a Nutshell
Saint Lucia is a magnet for investors, offering relatively affordable citizenship-by-investment programs with numerous advantages. The minimum investment requirement is $100,000, providing access to visa-free travel to over 140 countries, including the UK and the USA. Furthermore, citizenship can also be extended to the investor's family members.
Cover photo: Corinne Kutz (Unsplash)