While I was off at an annual charity event over the last several days, a few members of my team were dispatched through the Caribbean to meet with government officials at various island nations about their passport programs.
These programs are known as economic citizenship programs, and they allow a person to obtain official citizenship, along with a passport, by donating money or making a financial investment in the country.
One of my senior analysts wrote me from St. Kitts today.
If you haven’t been, it’s an island in the West Indies nestled between the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. He’s there looking to secure special terms for Sovereign Man readers.
St. Kitts has the most established citizenship program in the Caribbean.
It began in 1984 and has never been suspended (unlike some other Caribbean nations).
Although it hit a rough patch in 2014 when the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) warned US banks not to work with individuals holding passports from St. Kitts and neighboring Nevis.
FinCEN essentially labeled St. Kitts as a harbor for terrorists because several Iranian nationals were granted citizenships.
In addition to those accusations, there was also lots of fraud surrounding the part of the program that deals with real estate investment.
One of the options in St. Kitts is that foreigners can buy real estate, which will qualify them for a passport.
And in the past, a number of developers would often skip town with escrowed funds before the project was completed.
Back then, I predicted the government would implement some serious reforms to shake the reputational damage. And that’s exactly what happened.
This morning my team met with a high-ranking government official who explained how much the program has changed since then.
There are a number of due diligence procedures to ensure that citizenship won’t be granted to criminal types who could tarnish the program.
Plus there are stricter controls to safeguard investors’ funds.
Most importantly, though, St. Kitts citizenship has also become a lot cheaper.
St. Kitts used to charge a non-refundable $250,000 donation to its Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (or a $400,000 investment – plus fees – in an approved real estate project).
Sugar used to be St. Kitts’ main export, but the government stopped producing it in 2005 due to declining profitability; the donation helps plug the financial gap left by the closure of the sugar industry.
But in September, the island announced the Hurricane Relief Fund and lowered the price of citizenship to $150,000.
(Several other islands also lowered the cost of citizenship because of the hurricane, and my team is visiting all of them to arrange the best deal.)
The real estate investment in St. Kitts remains at $400,000 plus fees… and you’re allowed to sell your real estate after five years.
Most of the qualifying real estate in St. Kitts costs a LOT more than $400,000, though.
My team visited one project where the minimum price for a lot (excluding a house) runs $750,000.
It’s extremely nice, and there was a giant super-yacht parked in the marina.
But these types of projects seem quite expensive if the primary goal is to obtain a passport… which is why we’re excited about the major discounts these governments are offering on citizenship.
Of course, economic citizenship is only one way to obtain a second passport.
You can also get one at almost no cost if your ancestors came from certain countries – like Italy or Ireland, for example.
As a travel document, a European Union passport is much stronger than just about any Caribbean passport.
Plus it gives you the right to live and work in 28 countries. You might never want to, but it’s always nice to have a free option.
And if you’re unable to find any ancestors in your family tree, another path to a second passport is to obtain legal residency in a foreign country and apply for naturalization after a few years.
Note that obtaining legal residency isn’t the same as actually moving there.
In some countries, it’s possible to maintain your residency status by only visiting once every year or two.
We have a full report on the best ways to get a second passport right here.
I’ll continue to update you about my team’s travels through the Caribbean.
And I hope to share some exciting news regarding second passports with premium members soon.