Top pick? Grenada citizenship by investment in 2021

Top pick? Grenada citizenship by investment in 2021

Grenada is worth a look if you’re in the market for a second passport.

With good tax rules, an inexpensive citizenship by investment program and a very pleasant, liveable in-country experience, the “Spice Isle” has a lot to commend it.

Grenada’s passport does very well as a travel document and has excellent credentials on visa-free access, with the EU, Russia and China within easy reach.

Read on, folks, as this could be the Caribbean passport by investment for you.

Grenada introduced

Grenada is known for lush forests and beautiful beaches. Surely a tempting investment destination!
Levera Beach, Grenada. Credit: Elaine Brewer

There are plenty of reasons to like Grenada.

The country is beautiful and has warm, 80-degree weather year-round.

Its got the sandy beaches that most Caribbean islands have but also has rich volcanic and mountainous terrain too.

I personally love the beach to mountain feel over short distances in the car.

(Tenerife in Spain has a bit of this going on too.)

It’s got four so-called “ecoregions”.

So if you feel like taking a hike to see a waterfall one day and want to tan on the beach the next, then Grenada has got you covered.

You can scuba dive, deep-sea fish, sail, indulge in the local cuisine, or soak up various carnivals and festivals on offer.

Many Caribbean Islands are so packed with tourists that you’ll never find a good spot on the beach.

The Spice Isle not so much.

For the most part, plenty of room on the beach here.

Grenada’s economic profile

So how does Grenada stack up with the numbers?

Economically, we’re looking at a population of approximately 110,000 and a GDP per capita of US$ 16,000 (PPP).

Outside of tourism, Grenada relies mainly on its agriculture for income. It exports nutmeg, cocoa beans, fish, and wheat.

Grenada is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. It has the Eastern Caribbean dollar as its currency, which is pegged to the USD at a fixed rate.

It saw economic growth of 1.23% in 2020, according to Trading Economics. This puts it ahead of quite a few other countries in the CARICOM and broader region.

The cost of living in Grenada mostly depends – as you’d expect – on where you choose to live on the island, where you shop, activities you like to do, and the type of home you want to live in.

While you don’t have to, a car is recommended kit. This will help you get around Grenada’s winding mountainous roads.

You can rent a good home for around $1,300 per month.

You can buy a half-way decent townhouse, one or two bedrooms, in the capital St George for about $US 200k – 300k. Studios can be found for about US$ 100k – 150k.

Electricity will cost around $100 per month.

You can get eggs for around $3.70 per dozen and a pint-sized beer for $1.25.

This gives you a rough idea.

Compared to some other Caribbean Islands, it’s a bit pricey, sure, but you practically have an island to yourself.

Grenada taxes

What about the tax situation?

Tax rates in Grenada, like pretty much everywhere else, vary depending on if you are a tax resident or non-resident.

Residents pay a top rate of 30% tax and non-residents pay 15% on their (Grenada-sourced) income.

There’s no tax on your foreign-sourced income and no capital gains tax.

This is great news.

Legal entities such as corporations and trusts pay 30%.

Property taxes in Grenada vary based on the market value and what you plan to use the property for. The range is between 0-0.5% per year. Owners of a residential property who live in the residence are exempt from this tax though.

In summary, while the rates on your income earned in Grenada are quite high, the fact foreign income isn’t taxed and there is no capital gains tax must be two big pluses for the Grenada citizenship by investment program.

The Passport Itself

The Grenada passport compares favorably to other programs in the region.

A Grenada passport via the Citizenship by Investment Program is a respectable choice.

The Grenada passport has a good record on visa-free access
Grenada’s passport has visa-free access to 144 countries (2021)

The passport allows you visa-free travel to 144 countries, including Russia and China.

Of course, you’ve got the UK and EU countries as visa-free too.

That’s not bad and a good showing as a second travel document.

While the Grenada passport doesn’t get you visa-free, i.e. ESTA, access to the USA or Canada, you can qualify for a long-term business visa that will take the hassle out of your USA/Canada trips. These visas are valid for up to ten years.

(Tip: No Caribbean passport will give you visa-free access/ESTA to the USA).

Given all this, the Grenada passport by investment program is popular – the country attributes some US$ 61 million in foreign investments from its passports program in 2019.

(Assuming an average cost of US$ 175k per passport, roughly, that’s about 350 passports in 2019…)

As with all/most citizenship or passport by investment programs, you are getting a fast track.

You don’t have to bother with naturalization or long periods of time actually in the country.

With your qualifying investment and clearance via the application process, your part is complete and you can expect your Grenada passport and second citizenship.

Investment requirements for the Grenada passport

There are two main routes for the Grenada citizenship by investment program.

Donation

The first route is to make a donation to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund.

This is US$ 150,000 if you are applying alone as an individual.

If it is you and a spouse, the required amount is US$ 200,000. You can include up to two other dependents, i.e. children, on your application without any additional contribution. Otherwise, you are looking at an additional US$ 25k per dependent.

There’s some fees on top for this route, which are fairly modest:

  • $1,500 as an application fee
  • $5,000 as a due diligence fee
  • $1,500 as a processing fee

(These are all per person, except for children where you are looking at some reductions per head.)

Plus these government fees, you’re looking at a total price of US$ 158,000 for an individual or US$ 216,000 for a couple.

I’m not including any fees here that you may need to pay to your authorized agent to set up the application with the Grenada government. Unfortunately, you cannot apply to the Grenada passport by investment program directly and need to hire an agent to handle to applications process. I will put together a list of these agents and their prices soon.

Real estate investment

The second route is to make an investment of US$ 350,000 in Grenada real estate.

This needs to be a real estate project or development that the Grenadian government has specifically approved.

Basically, the Minister publishes in the government gazette the types of projects that are approved.

I counted 17 or so existing resorts or developments that have been approved for investment.

So you will need to pick one of these with your agent and work out the modalities of your investment.

With this route, you’ll need to hold onto your real estate for a minimum of five years.

You can then sell your fractional share or other underlying interest.

You should note that there is a government fee of US$ 50,000 that is payable on top of your investment.

While the other fees, referred to above, apply to this route as well and vary per person, this government fee applies only to the investment route.

So, for total outlay, and assuming a couple, I would say:

  • US$ 350,000 for your investment
  • US$ 50,000 government fee
  • US$ 1,500 application fee (x2)
  • US$ 5,000 due diligence fee (x2)
  • US$ 1,500 processing fee (x2)
  • = US$ 416,000

This gives you an idea.

By the way, there is a bit of relief, if you have kids, on the due diligence and processing fees for them.  You get a waiver or discount.

As is par for the course, you’ll need to choose between a lower upfront, but non-recoverable, cost or a higher upfront investment with the possibility of an exit later on. This is going to depend on your preferences, personal circumstances, and individual profile.

Some other points on the application process

There’s no personal interview requirement, so this is largely a documentation process with your agent.

You don’t need to show a particular educational level or that you have management experience.

As with some other programs, there is also no requirement to come to Grenada first or stay before having your citizenship granted.

You can basically do this from your desk in your home office.

Grenada also doesn’t have a list of nationalities it will not work with – some programs do have a ‘blacklist’ of sorts – so this is good news. As a result, if you have an Iraqi, Syrian or Afghan passport, for example, there is no problem applying with Grenada.

So Grenada is thankfully open on these points.

Bear in mind you do need to demonstrate that you have a clean criminal history and that the source of all funds you are contributing, either via donation or by investment, is legal.

Rest assured that parking fines, speeding fines, etc., and similar are OK…

(Who doesn’t have a few of these?)

The real bars on character grounds are the offenses where you’ve spent some time in prison.

So factor in some hassle for the paper chase on the due diligence side.

For processing time, I am told between two and three months depending on whether all the documents are ready on the applicant’s side or not.

Four months seems like the upper end of the range.

So, if this is a “motivated” application as they say, you can have your new passports very quickly.

Pros of the Grenada Passport

While a small island citizenship, there are many pros to a Grenada passport
This is Sugar Loaf Island in Grenada. Credit: Hugh Whyte

There are many advantages to a Grenadian passport.

The first of which is that you can permanently move to Grenada with your family and make yourself a new home. Of course, you may want to do this now or just keep your Grenada passport on hand as insurance in case something changes in your home country.

As Grenada’s government points out, the passport by investment gives you “the same rights as any other Grenadian citizen. These include the right to live and work in Grenada at all times, and all the rights associated with membership of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

There are also the benefits common to all second passports, etc., which we won’t go into here.

We’ve picked out the main things that appeal to us about the Grenada passport.

Breadth of visa-free access

We’ve covered this above but the access to the EU, China plus Russia, all in one go, make this a special plus for Grenada.

Most passports won’t give you this type of combination.

Attractive on cost

While not the cheapest option out there, the Grenada citizenship by investment program is still one of the most inexpensive.

You’re looking at being able to get free and clear with a new passport from around US$ 160,000.

That’s got to be competitive in anyone’s books.

Friendly on dependants

Grenada’s citizenship by investment program will allow for dependents and is particularly generous about it.

It’s easy to add your children under 18 but there are also some favorable rules for other family members.

For example, parents and even grandparents can be added under the main applicant and you don’t have to show that these folks live together at the time of the application. Your own children up to age 30 can be listed as a dependent even if they aren’t enrolled in university.

You can even add your brothers and sisters, if you really want to, provided they are aged 18 or over and are unmarried.

All said, you can economically add most of your direct and extended family to your citizenship application.

This isn’t a bad feature if you’d like to give most of your family that added insurance of a second nationality.

Tax rules

While Grenada taxes domestic income at reasonably high rates, foreign-sourced and capital gains income is off limits for the local taxation office.

This is great and helps make Grenada a friendly destination for investors who are looking for a new tax residence.

If you have significant foreign income, for example, this could be a great fit for your base.

US treaty investor visa access

Additionally, you’ll qualify for the E-2 treaty investor visa with the United States. This is a special visa that allows access for non U.S. persons who want to live and invest in the United States. You and your spouse can even seek work in the US with this visa, provided you meet some key criteria.

Stability

Grenada is fairly politically and institutionally stable.

Sure, it had its run-in with the Communists (followed by a U.S. invasion which we’ve all read about), but this is in the past now.

Today, the ‘ease of use’ and convenience markers I look for are here.

Public administration is good, English is the official language and the country scores well on rule of law measures.

While it is a smaller country, the passport looks like a good long-term investment.

There have been some scandals to do with diplomatic passports but these haven’t impacted the citizenship by investment program to a significant degree.

From all appearances, Grenada will hold up its side of the deal and you’ll get an additional home/citizenship for yourself as insurance against an uncertain world.

Speed

Grenada says the time from application to grant of a passport is about two to three months.

This means you can wrap up the process on your new nationality within a single financial quarter, which has to count as a bonus point for us.

Cons of a Grenada Passport by Investment

The Grenada citizenship by investment program doesn’t come without a few flaws.

Small island country citizenship

First off, you’re not getting a lot of variety in terms of your new home. Grenada’s main island and its surrounding islands are your obvious options. So, if you’re in the market for a new place to live, you’d better be happy with what Grenada has on offer.

This also goes for the local economic conditions – while you will have the right to work, this may not be particularly remunerative for you or your family.

(Note: Grenada is part of the CARICOM, under which citizens do have some freedom of movement rights. You should check this out but it does involve the freedom to move and work in the different CARICOM states – provided you meet the qualification criteria relating to your occupation and educational status, etc.)

Limited real estate options

As with other programs, the Grenada citizenship by investment program does limit you in your choice of investments.

You have to go with what the government has green-lighted for the passport program. So you can see that the citizenship by investment rules do steer investment in the country in the way that the host government wants.

Fair enough I guess.

But this type of restriction has to be a disadvantage because it is a limit on your commercial freedom to go with an investment you think will best give you a return.

Downside risk

Folks, the usual health warning: There is also going to be downside risk with the investment route (like with any investment you make).

There’s no guarantee that your real estate investment will produce good returns or increase in value.

You are of course going to be reliant on the economic situation locally in Grenada and tourism demand and all that.

Unfortunately, as a second point, the Grenada citizenship by investment program has had some issues in the past- with at least a few government-sponsored investment programs going south.

Resort-type investments can prove to be volatile and are heavily dependent on tourism demand. With a fractional interest, as well, you are going to be locked into whatever the terms the resort operator or investment organizer has and these can be prescriptive.

This isn’t like buying a bunch of apartments and renting them out.

There you have a free hand.

As a result – and as with other programs – I think you have to assume you are not necessarily going to be able to exit at the price you put in.

Our Verdict on Grenada Citizenship by Investment

The Grenada citizenship by investment program could be your ticket to a slice of paradise.
Beach Day at Grand Anse Beach, Grenada. Credit: Hugh Whyte

Overall, a Grenada passport via investment may prove to be a solid opportunity for you.

It is a particularly capable travel document – providing good access to much of the world bar the USA and Canada.

The passport is still one of the cheapest around.

You can put multiple family members on your application, provided they’re in good health, and you just need to pay the extra fees for a background check.

If family coverage – and especially extended family coverage – is important to you, this could be a tipping consideration in favor of Grenada.

As with all of the Caribbean programs, the economics is variable and you’ll have to consider this- both for your investments (if you go this route) and for your new life in the country, if you choose to move with your second passport.

While Grenada has outperformed many of its peers in recent years, it is still an island economy with the dependence on foreign investment and the vulnerability to shocks that come along with that.

I’d say this factor is ‘priced in’, though.

As always: do your homework, get a feeling for the country and its trajectory before you invest, and have an idea about what the local business opportunities look like.

If you’re just in it for the travel document, I think the basic track record is good – the passport has held up over time and has actually edged up a few notches recently on visa-free performance.

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Last Updated: 2021-05-21 04:15
Suitcase Investor Team

Suitcase Investor Team

Our trusty writers at Suitcase Investor comprise a team obsessed with the business, travel, tax, and immigration strategies of an international lifestyle. Call them tragic passport geeks, if you want, but these are folks who know the landscape and work hard to keep on the pulse of new developments.

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