Citizenship by Investment (Exonomic Citizenship) in Vanuatu

Due diligence and supporting documentation requirements are more relaxed than most economic citizenship programs. Online applications are streamlined and fast-tracked.

Processing times have been reduced to 30-to-45 days. Often processing can be completed in a month and citizenship granted if the applicant meets the requirements.

Regular passports come with green covers and display Vanuatu’s coat of arms and “The Republic of Vanuatu” in both French and English.

As recently as 2010, the island nation’s passports were hand-written. That increase the chance of crime and fraud. New Zealand stepped up to the plate and put a portion of its multi-million dollar aid package to help in assigning Vanuatu to move to an electronic system.

The first biometric passports were issued in September of that year the international community expanded the list of nations allowing visa-free entry for Vanuatu citizens.

Two Australian real estate developers, in 1994, brought plans to the government pertaining the selling of Vanuatu passports to investors.

The first suggestion meant developing an offshore financial center on Moso with its casino, bank company registration, and financial markets. The purpose was to offer Vanuatu residency and citizenship to investors who put their money into qualified businesses. Although the plan was adopted, it didn’t go anyplace and died on the vine.

The Olilian group introduced a plan, the same year, drawing 3,000 well-heeled Asian investors through the establishment of an offshore financial center. A ‘free trade zone’ including retail businesses, hotels, and medical facilities in Luganville on Espiritu Santo. This plan would offer passports to investors, but the scheme failed when the promoters were charged with fraud.

After several more missteps, the current Capital Investment Immigration Plan, (CIIP) started providing citizenship for $260,000. Citizenship obtained through this channel does not bestow the power to cast a ballot or stand for public office.

CIIP was first suggested in 2012 by the Vanuatu Registry Services Limited. The full program was signed into law in 2014. The legislation’s objective is to generate community jobs while it stimulates growth and balances state accounts.

To draw overseas investors, the government enacted the legislation and accompanying regulations and changed its law to permit dual citizenship. Before then, dual-citizenship was not recognized. However, since 2013, Vanuatu has recognized both dual and multiple citizenships since 2014.

Citizenship is provided under VERP and is fast-tracked. VERP is a cooperative program and sees Vanuatu Citizenship Commission, the Immigration Department, the State Law Office, Finance Intelligence Unit, the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority, the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (in the case of formation of companies), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office as the Minister responsible for Citizenship collaborate on a regular basis.

The inter-agency cooperation paves the way for checks and balances and internal transparency. When an applicant is successful, they receive their Citizenship Certificate quickly along with their Vanuatu passport.


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The island country provides multiple residences and citizenry strategies to live in a nascent nirvana, pay no income tax and get another passport. In fact, other than a lax VAT, Vanuatu has few taxes.

A growing number of second residency and second citizenship plans are available, and the most massively advocated are frequently not the finest. Nations such as Panama and Paraguay profess to provide turnkey answers, but they don’t offer ideal solutions for everyone.

That’s where Vanuatu steps up to the plate.

Vanuatu offers residency and citizenship plans most haven’t heard about.  In 2014, the European Union signed a visa exemption understanding resulting in Vanuatuans unencumbered travel to Europe’s Schengen Area. Now the nation’s passport provides access to over 115 nations.

Comparatively, the process is simple. Wives, husbands, dependent kids, and workers go through a standard visa procedure for their category. For applicants, residence can be achieved by demonstrating a permanent income — such as a pension — or by investing in the nation.

For persons with a recurrent income, gaining residency  is as easy as petitioning as a ‘self-funded resident.’ This option mandates a Vanuatu bank certify the person’s ability to deposition VUV$250,000 monthly. A person married, or living with a partner must double that amount. While that’s not chump change when compared to a few Central American options, most people with an active portfolio can qualify — plus the deposit is not subject to income tax.

As of this writing (April 2018), residency requires a 10 million investment in some agriculture or real estate project. While this is similar to many other nation’s programs, Vanuatu provides the carrot of future citizenship.

As an emerging destination for agriculture investment — including plantations providing for turnkey investments — this investment form is a simple way to obtain residency with an investor visa. With an additional fee, applications can be made for a visa good for up to ten years.

There are two ways to become a citizen: pay a lump sum upfront or wait out the naturalization period and collect a passport later.

The slower, and less expensive option is naturalization. Once a person has been a resident for ten years, applying for citizenship is easy. The only way a naturalized citizen can lose their citizenship is to be imprisoned for ten or more years.

Vanuatu was wiped out by a cyclone in 2015. Eleven persons died and dozens more injured. The country’s infrastructure suffered untold damage.

To rebuild, the government pushed a CBI plan which offered ‘honorary citizenships’ to anyone who sent a six-figure contribution to the government. The program was restructured when a government worker was found selling Chinese investors citizenships for up to $300,000.

Unfortunately, there are still many sites which have not been updated and still show the government’s previous position of not selling citizenships. As of this date, Vanuatu citizenship is available through a donation to the Vanuatu Development Support Program.

Vanuatu, a member of the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental group of over 50 member states, accepts Bitcoin as a method to pay the CIIP posts.

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