Some of the Cheapest Passports by Investment
Getting an additional passport can have many benefits, from granting you access to more nations, providing financial protection and allowing you to expatriate easily.
Traditionally, the only way to get a second passport is through marriage, lineage, naturalization, or investment.
While the first three options might not be right or feasible for most, investing in a country opens doors that once seemed closed.
The good news is that there are countries that make it easy for you to get an inexpensive passport by investment.
Some of these are quick and easy, while others may take a little more legwork.
What is Citizenship by Investment?
Until 1984, largely the only way to get citizenship in a foreign country was to be an ancestor of a citizen, become naturalized through lengthy processes or marry a citizen.
This put an additional passport off limits to most people.
After about 1984, though, countries started offering passports to investors, via programs by which people could become citizens by making a contribution to that country’s economy.
Win win, right?
Citizenship grants the holder the same rights and privileges of a natural-born resident.
Dual passport holders have the right to own property, vote in elections, serve on juries, work in the country and travel the world on their second passport.
If they get into trouble, they can also seek the consular protection of their new country.
Residency vs. Citizenship
While almost every country offers various forms of temporary and permanent residency, only a few offer citizenship through investment.
Residency allows foreign nationals to live in a country for a defined period of time, but depending on the country, foreigners may not be able to earn a living, own property or vote as residents.
Temporary residency may last for a fixed term of a few years, and is often the first step necessary to gain permanent residency.
Countries that require foreigners to become temporary residents first may grant permanent residency only after several years have passed.
In addition, many countries require both foreigners to physically reside in the country for a period of time before gaining residency.
By opting for citizenship through investment, you can circumvent the long and tedious process of becoming a resident of the country.
Unlike the naturalization route, you can often gain citizenship in as little as three months with most programs. Citizenship through investment is attractive to people who want to gain citizenship right away, often before making a permanent move to the country.
The United States is the only country in the world that taxes its citizens on their worldwide income, even if they’re living in working outside of the country. This means that even if you have permanent residency in Mexico, for example, you are still responsible for paying taxes to the United States. Some high-earning Americans opt for the cheapest citizenships in other countries in order to avoid having to pay taxes on their earnings while outside of the country.
(To do this, though, U.S. citizens will need to renounce their U.S. nationality and passport. Not a small step…)
Another reason to have a dual passport is protection from civil unrest and disasters in the home country. A global pandemic may make international travel close to impossible as many countries close their borders to protect their citizens. As a dual citizen, you have the option to ride out disasters in your new country.
Investment vs. Donation
This is one other thing to look out for.
In other words, what is meant by ‘investment’ in the context of the cost of the citizenship program?
A typical investment scenario allows you to exit by selling the asset you acquired later down the track, if you want to.
For passport by investment programs, there will almost always be a time period for which you must hold your investment and not sell.
At the lower end, this is usually around two to three years but can be longer periods of time.
For the cheaper entry points, though, some countries invite you to make a contribution to a specific government fund. This is usually a donation, but it can be described in various ways – sometimes as a “contribution”, or even an “investment”.
As implied – if you make a donation, you are handing that money over and you are not going to be able to get it back in the future.
The good news is that this is generally a lesser amount than what you need for an investment, so it could be a good option depending on what your specific priorities are.
It usually works out like this:
- Less upfront, but you are making a donation and can’t recover the money later
- More upfront, but you are making an investment and may be able to sell/exit your investment after a certain number of years
Bear in mind that some governments will also charge fees on top. You won’t be getting the fees back.
In some places, the fees are higher if you are making an investment and lower if you are going the donation route.
The Cheapest Citizenships by Investment
Known for its mountains, hot springs and tropical forests, the tiny island of Dominica is home to just 71,000 full-time residents.
Its most appealing tourist attraction is Morne Trois Pitons National Park, home of sulphur vents, a towering waterfall and the famous Titou Gorge.
English is the official language of Dominica, and this island boasts some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean.
An attractive destination for divers, some of the most popular activities are swimming with turtles and birdwatching.
Expats, independent investors and retirees love Dominica for its year round warm weather, low cost of living and English-speaking population.
Domincia is small and intimate, and there is a growing, yet close-knit community of expats from the United States, Canada and UK.
The passport by investment program in Dominica is also one of the cheapest and easiest in the world.
This Caribbean nation has had an economic residency program in place since 1991, and this is run by the country’s Citizenship by Investment Unit. This gives them quite a bit of experience in dealing with investor applications.
A minimum of outlay of $100,000 USD or $200,000 in real estate is what you need to get started.
The process to gain the process usually takes between three and six months, but you can have it expedited.
With this passport, you can enjoy visa-free access to more than 139 countries.
Importantly, EU/Schengen area countries are visa-free for you with Domincia nationality.
- Quick Read: Pros and Cons of a Dominica Passport
One of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, St. Lucia is a Caribbean jewel.
The towering Piton mountain range is an island landmark, and tourists flock here, spending their winters sunning it up on white-sand beaches and enjoying the island’s high-end resorts.
A playground for the rich, St. Lucia is one of the most sought-after islands in the Caribbean and is a haven for investors and retirees alike.
This island is also a favorite of retirees.
With direct flights to the United States on most major airlines, a low cost of living, sandy beaches and delicious cuisine, there is an influx of retirees to this tropical paradise.
Also one of the most inexpensive second passports, St. Lucia asks a reasonably low investment for citizenship and a passport.
The investment of $100,000 allows for visitors to receive a passport within three to four months.
St. Lucia also offers a passport for people who invest $300,000 USD in property holdings on the island.
St. Lucia’s passport is strong, offering visa-free access to more than 144 countries, making it one of the most attractive cheap dual passports.
Grenada is peaceful and tranquil and a favorite of retirees and expats alike.
With white sandy beaches and world-class dining, there is plenty to do on the island. Expats and retirees alike love kayaking, hiking, boating and diving in Grenada.
This safe country is known for its friendly and warm residents, and housing here is affordable and abundant.
This island nation is the playground of the elite, and it can be your new home for a modest investment (donation) of $150,000.
You can also invest in property valued at $350,000 to receive the inexpensive second passport, which will grant you visa-free access to 153 countries.
This passport will allow you access to the Schengen Zone, the UK, and China (a bonus!).
- More on Grenada and its passport by investment: Top pick? Grenada citizenship by investment
Antigua and Barbuda
With 365 beaches—one for every day of the year—sparkling blue water, stunning reefs and swaying palms, Antigua is known as the Caribbean’s most romantic island.
Her sister island, Barbuda, is a nature lover’s paradise, with tropical forests, hiking trails and dozens of species of native birds.
Because of the high demand for property from expats, the cost of living is higher here than in most of the Caribbean. The island chain has world-class healthcare facilities and beautiful beachfront property.
If you want to live here, you are not alone.
Many people seek out dual passports from Antigua and Barbuda and there is widely popular citizenship through investment program.
These twin nations are best for people who want to get dual passports for their whole family.
By donating $100,000 to the Antigua National Development Fund, foreign nationals can enjoy dual passports that allow visa-free travel to 165 nations, including Switzerland, the EU and Hong Kong. For an additional fee, you can add family members to the program.
St. Kitts and Nevis
The island of St. Kitts is affectionately called “The Mother Colony in the West Indies” as it was the first island to become colonized by French and British settlers.
The smallest islands in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis are practically untouched by the mass tourism of neighboring countries like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
The islands have a laid back and natural feel, making them a haven for expats who want a slower pace of life.
The islands have their own public transportation system including a ferry system, minibuses and inexpensive taxis.
A short flight from Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis is a beautiful island nation with an easy citizenship through investment program.
Invest just $150,000 as a donation or in real estate, and enjoy one of the cheapest passports in just three to six months.
Enjoy visa-free access to 150 nations and all of the rights and privileges of natural-born residents.
One of the cheapest passports around, St. Kitts and Nevis’ program is popular with foreign nationals.
This beautiful and isolated island nation nestled between Fiji and Australia offers seclusion, financial freedom and year-round warm weather.
This South Pacific paradise offers breathtaking reefs, historic shipwrecks and underwater caverns.
The 14 islands that border the Coral Sea are home to active volcanoes and are the birthplace of bungee jumping.
Vanuatu is a little known destination for retirees and expats, and there are not many that live in the island chain.
Investing in a Vanuatu citizenship will get you in on the ground floor while prices and demand are still low.
Contribute just $130,000 into a local development fund and enjoy a lifelong second passport.
$180,000 will arrange passports for a family of four.
The only program like it in the Asia-Pacific region, Vanuatu’s program is highly desired and popular with retirees, businessfolk and expats alike.
A bird-watcher’s paradise, Montenegro is home to one of the deepest canyons in the world. This Balkan country is dotted with medieval villages, fjords and black mountains.
Although not part of the European Union, citizenship in Montenegro confers many benefits.
Montenegro is expected to join the EU by 2025, making now the best time to get in on the ground floor when it comes to gaining an additional passport.
This small nation offers citizenship for a donation of $122,000 USD or between $300,000 and $550,000 if you are interested in a real estate investment.
Holding a Montenegrin passport will allow you visa-free travel to 137 destinations around the globe.
Dual nationality is allowed if you obtain your passport by investment, as a perk.
You can’t have dual nationality if you go the ordinary naturalization route.
A huge country with bustling cities and centers of commerce, Germany is one of the most advanced and progressive countries in Europe.
Despite having a population of 81 million, nearly a third of Germany’s land is forest and woodlands.
A high-speed train system gives you access to all of Europe, and the country is the largest producer of automobiles in the world.
An excellent country to start a business or invest in property, it is attractive to entrepreneurs, retirees and expats alike.
While it is typically rather difficult to get a passport for an EU nation by investment, Germany offers a program that opens the door for foreigners to gain a new passport.
The German Entrepreneurial Residency Program allows people to invest in the country’s development in exchange for permanent residency and a German passport.
The investment of $470,000 USD will give you much desired European residency and eventually citizenship.
Most of the hazelnuts in the world are grown in Turkey, and the sweet treat is only one of many of Turkey’s major exports.
The legendary St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, was born here. The main language here is Turkish, but there are more than 30 languages spoken in the country.
Straddling Asia and Europe, Turkey is a rich nation that is booming economically.
The country developed the citizenship by investment program in 2016 and offers a passport for an investment of $250,000 USD.
The entire process takes three to six months.
The Turkish passport offers visa-free travel to 125 countries and the possibility of future EU access.
Turkey also has the Ankara agreement with the UK, which allows passport holders to apply for a UK business visa.
Plenty of options for your second passport
There you go.
Some good programs to look at.
When it comes to gaining citizenship through investment, there are many attractive options on the market for the person who wants financial independence, a higher quality of life and residency benefits outside of their home country.
For a small investment, these countries offer the coveted dual passport and all of the rights and privileges of born and naturalized citizens.
Whether you are looking for an island paradise where you can buy a beachfront property and spend your days under swaying palms, or high-class cosmopolitan cities, there is a country waiting to welcome you.