‘Golden passports’: 11 countries where you can buy citizenship – from Austria and Malta in the EU, to idyllic Caribbean island nations like Dominica, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda
National identity might be an intangible sense that many people feel deep and dearly – but believe it or not, there are many countries where you can essentially buy a passport. And we’re not talking shady back room deals – it’s entirely legal, above board and government approved.
Which raises the question, how much does it cost? Well, it can range from around US$100,000 from several Caribbean nations, up to an estimated US$9.5 million in Austria. These are the 11 countries with citizenship-by-investment programmes, also known as “golden passports”.
1. Austria: estimated US$9.5 million investment required
Even if you can afford the multimillion dollar price tag, Austria’s citizenship by investment programme is incredibly selective.
Under Article 10, Section 6 of the Austrian Citizenship Act, the Austrian government is able to award citizenship to foreigners who show “extraordinary merit” and contribute significantly to the state’s interests – either scientifically, culturally or economically.
Unlike in other countries, applicants must invest directly into the Austrian economy. This can include setting up a business, creating jobs, or introducing new technologies, according to Austrian law experts. The exact investment amount required for the award is not clear, but is estimated to be around US$9.5 million, Forbes reports.
Good luck finding out who has successfully met the programme’s requirements, as applicants are legally considered official government secrets and therefore are not disclosed to any other country.
2. Antigua and Barbuda: US$100,000 minimum investment required
There are four ways to qualify for Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship by investment programme.
The least expensive option is a US$100,000 donation to the country’s National Development Fund. Alternatively, applicants can donate US$150,000 to the University of the West Indies.
Applicants can also invest in “designated, officially approved real estate” worth at least US$400,000, which comes with a US$30,000 processing fee.
The programme’s final and most expensive option is to invest at least US$1.5 million into an approved business on the island, along with a US$30,000 fee.
3. Dominica: US$100,000 minimum investment required
There are two ways to qualify for the Caribbean island of Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme.
The first is to donate US$100,000 to the island’s Economic Development Fund, and the second is to purchase US$200,000 worth of real estate in an approved development.
4. Grenada: US$150,000 minimum investment required
Grenada, an island nation in the West Indies, offers two qualifying options for its citizenship by investment programme:
Firstly, a US$150,000 contribution to the National Transformation Fund, which finances projects in various industries including tourism, agriculture, and alternative energy, or otherwise the purchase of a property worth at least US$220,000, which cannot be sold for four years.
5. Saint Kitts and Nevis: US$150,000 donation required
There are two ways to qualify for Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.
The first option is to donate US$150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund, which was launched in 2018 to promote growth in various sectors including healthcare, education, alternative energy, climate change and resilience, and the promotion of indigenous entrepreneurship.
Alternatively, applicants can invest in an approved real estate project with a value of at least US$200,000.
6. Saint Lucia: US$100,000 donation required
Saint Lucia, a volcanic island located in the eastern Caribbean Sea, offers four different investment options in exchange for citizenship.
The least expensive option is a US$100,000 donation to the island’s National Economic Fund. Applicants who prefer to invest in real estate can purchase property worth at least US$300,000, which cannot be sold for five years.
Additionally, you can invest a minimum of US$3.5 million in an “approved enterprise project”, which range from restaurants and cruise ports to universities and transport infrastructure. The projects must create at least three permanent jobs in the local economy.
The final option is to invest a minimum of US$500,000 in government bonds, which is currently discounted 50 per cent under the Covid-19 relief programme.
7. Jordan: US$750,000 minimum investment required
Jordan, a semi-arid country bordering Israel, offers three investor-citizenship options, according to Henley & Partners.
The least expensive option is to invest US$750,000 into a project that creates at least 10 local jobs in a community that is located outside of Amman, the country’s capital. For projects within the capital, the minimum investment required is US$1 million.
Other investment options include depositing US$1 million into the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) for a minimum of three years, or purchasing US$1 million in treasury bonds and holding them for six years.
The final option for immigrant investors is to purchase shares in a company based in Jordan that’s worth at least US$1.5 million.
8. Malta: €600,000 upwards …
Malta, an island nation off the coast of Italy and member of the European Union, was the subject of an investigation regarding “loopholes” in its citizenship by investment application.
Now, the programme has one of the “world’s strictest due diligence standards and vetting of applicants”, according to Henley & Partners, which was involved in the scandal. However, the EU is still considering a ban on golden passports offered by member states.
Four investment requirements must be fulfilled in order to qualify:
Purchasing residential real estate worth at least €700,000 (US$714,000)
An additional contribution between €600,000 and €750,000
€10,000 donation to an approved non-governmental organisation or society
A valid residence card awarded after living in Malta for 12 to 36 months under a lease priced at a minimum of €16,000 a year
9. Montenegro: €250,000 minimum investment required, plus a €200,000 donation
Montenegro lists two options to apply to its citizenship by investment programme, which vary depending on the geographic region invested in. Applicants can either invest €450,000 in projects within Podgorica, the country’s capital, or €250,000 (US$255,000) in projects focused on areas outside of the capital.
The programme also requires a €200,000 fee that is donated to Montenegro’s development and innovation funds.
10. North Macedonia: €200,000 minimum investment required
There are two options to purchase citizenship in North Macedonia, according to Henley & Partners: either invest €200,000 (US$204,000) in a private investment fund or invest €400,000 in “new facilities” excluding restaurants or shopping centres that create at least 10 local jobs.
11. Türkiye: US$400,000 minimum investment required
One of the more popular citizenship by investment programmes as of late is Turkey’s. The least expensive of the application’s seven different investment options is to purchase US$400,000 worth of real estate.
- From US$100,000 upwards you can earn citizenship in many sun-kissed Caribbean countries – but an Austrian EU passport will set you back nearly US$10 million
- Young European nations Montenegro and North Macedonia both reward investments, while in Middle East you can call Jordan or Türkiye home for the right price