Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment: Program Review in an Interview with Consul Vanuatu
Why and how to get Citizenship by Investment Program in Vanuatu?
The Vanuatu Citizenship Program for Investment began work in 2015, and since that time more than 2,600 passports have been issued. How does Vanuatu citizenship visa attract investors and what are its main differences from other citizenship programs?
1. What are the advantages of citizenship of Vanuatu? What are the main differences with other programs?
Firstly, Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations of Great Britain, therefore, citizens of the country have visa-free access to England for 180 days a year, in addition, there is a visa-free agreement with Schengen countries and the EU where you can stay for 90 days in the first half of the year. Visas to the United States and Canada can be obtained for a period of 10 years. Negotiations are also underway for visa-free travel with Australia and New Zealand.
Secondly, the speed of obtaining citizenship is from 3 to 6 weeks. As far as I know, in the Caribbean countries, the process takes from 3 months to one year.
Thirdly, the Government of Vanuatu, under the leadership of Prime Minister Vanuatu Charlotte Salvay, has carried out a deep restructuring of the citizenship program in order to improve the security verification process and reduce the number of required documents. Now on Vanuatu, the number of documents required for registration of citizenship is much less than in other countries. I want to emphasize once again that during the security check all candidates are thoroughly tested. Only vetted investors can apply for Vanuatu citizenship.
In preparing the law, the government studied the negative experience of other countries and tried to make the program convenient for investors. I can proudly say that we managed to do this. The most important indicator is the speed of processing applications, on average it is 4-5 weeks, as well as a zero percentage of refusals. Thanks to the effectiveness of the program, we were able to attract more than $ 150 million in direct investments into the country.
2. Do I need to reside in Vanuatu to get a passport?
You do not need to live either before or after obtaining citizenship, and the oath can be taken at one of the consulates in Vanuatu or in the investor’s country of residence. A consular officer may also come to the country where the applicant is located and take the oath.
3. Is citizenship inherited by Vanuatu?
Yes, citizenship is issued for life with the ability to pass on to descendants, while paying the minimum cost.
4. What are the requirements for the applicant and who can obtain citizenship with the investor?
The main requirement is the absence of criminal proceedings and criminal convictions. Also not accepted applications from persons who are on the national or international wanted list. A spouse, children under 25 years of age, including those from previous marriages, parents of both the main applicant and spouses aged 56 or over can also get a passport.
5. How long does a Due Diligence take in Vanuatu?
From 7 to 14 days, unlike other programs, where the check lasts from 2 to 5 months.
The audit is conducted by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Government of Vanuatu. If the applicant is involved in serious international crimes, he cannot get a passport. Vanuatu values the reputation of the program and therefore does not accept applications from such persons. In addition, citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and North Korea cannot get a Vanuatu passport. Therefore, a passport enjoys prestige in the world, with it it is not difficult to open accounts in respectable banks. Today, the passport is in 36th place in the passport index with more than 122 visa-free countries, and the program itself ranks 6th out of 13 in the ranking of the best citizenship programs for investment in 2018, ahead of strong competitors like Malta and Cyprus.
6. Is it possible to apply for the registration of citizenship of Vanuatu?
The government of Vanuatu has appointed a number of companies through which you can apply for citizenship. Grant for citizenship, as a rule, is also paid through a certified agent. It is important to note that several dozens of local companies obtained licenses for Vanuatu, but most of them did not submit any applications, so you need to carefully approach the choice of the company.
7. What can you say about the tax system of Vanuatu?
The tax system of Vanuatu is as loyal as possible.
Corporate and income taxes for businessmen who want to buy a ready-made company on the island are 0%.
8. Is it possible to become a tax resident in Vanuatu and what is required for this?
If we talk about tax planning, then for citizens and residents the situation is different. As a rule, the issue of tax liabilities “follows” the status of a resident.
For people who have become citizens of Vanuatu, tax liabilities arise where they are residents. The tax liability status for a company is also different from the taxation of shareholders of a company. The question is quite complicated, and the answer depends on each particular case.
Potential citizens should take into account the Law on International Tax Cooperation No. 7 of 2016, adopted by the Government of Vanuatu in 2016. Newly minted citizens of the country should take into account this law, as it involves the automatic exchange of information in some cases. It is very important for potential citizens to know with which countries Vanuatu exchanges information and the laws of other countries in order to better understand the possibilities of tax planning.
At the moment, Vanuatu has no tax number assignment system, since Vanuatu is still a tax haven for those who live there.
9. Often our clients are interested in the question whether it is possible, in addition to a passport, to obtain driver’s licenses and other documents required by the bank for opening an account. What is the situation with the receipt of such documents in Vanuatu?
Driving license is issued within 30 minutes, for this, you do not need to pass the exam, it is enough to present a valid certificate. However, this requires a visit to the island. A rather large percentage of “new citizens” are also opened by companies and they draw up a utility bill (registration address). All these processes are quite simple.
10. The Vanuatu Citizenship Program for investment is not as popular in Russia as the Caribbean programs. How do you think why?
The state has introduced quotas for the granting of citizenship through investments. Every new citizen feels exclusive, knowing that he was among the lucky few who joined the Vanuatu family. In the Middle East, we are carefully selecting businessmen who will become part of the Vanuatu family and will be able to invest in strategic economic and social projects and, therefore, contribute to the development of Vanuatu.
The 4 main benefits of the Vanuatu program are:
– Guaranteed citizenship
According to John Weir, Secretary General of the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission in 2015, out of 123 citizenship applications, 123 were satisfied, that is, absolutely everything. However, the failure rate in Grenada in the second quarter of 2018 was almost 20%, in 2017 – almost 13%, and in 2016 they did not approve 15% of applications, according to official statistics from the Ministry of Finance of Grenada.
– Payment through an escrow agent
There is an option to pay for citizenship through an independent escrow agent. This scheme is 100% guaranteed results. The funds will be deducted from the escrow account only in case of obtaining citizenship. Otherwise, all 100% of the funds will be returned. Absolutely all funds will be returned to the applicant, including the inspection fee, translation costs, etc. In the Caribbean, if the citizenship was refused, the client at least loses $ 7,500 for the reliability test. Such measures eliminate the risk of failure due to the lack of professionalism of the contractor.
– Record review period – 1 month
Those who are faced with the Caribbean programs, know that in practice the consideration of applications takes from 5 to 9 months. In addition, the government often requests additional documents. In European passport programs, the period of consideration is from 7 to 15 months. In Vanuatu, the fastest application was approved in just 3 weeks, which is comparable to obtaining a Schengen visa, and the longest consideration period is 2.5 months.
– Tax planning and visa-free travel
Many Russians have already issued a Vanuatu passport for tax planning purposes, have opened accounts in banks in the EU, Hong Kong, Singapore and other respectable jurisdictions. And visa-free travels to Schengen and England, as well as 10-year visas to the United States, are more urgent than ever before, to say the least, tensions with the West.
Today it is absolutely clear that the program of citizenship of Vanuatu for investments will become the most popular among Russians in its price segment.
Who is engaged in registration of citizenship for investment
Before you begin the process of registration of citizenship, it is necessary to examine the issue and consult with experts. One of the leaders in the market for citizenship and a residence permit for investment is our company.
The company independently prepares a client case and submits it to the island citizenship agency. Thus, a minimum of participation is required from the applicant.
One of the advantages of the company is the ability to pay for services after a positive decision on the issue of citizenship or with the involvement of escrow agents with a worldwide reputation. In this case, all funds are kept in the agent’s account until the client receives a passport.