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5 Differences Between European and Caribbean Citizenships

Europe and the Caribbean Islands offer most of the world’s best programmes for immigration. Both regions welcome high-net-worth individuals looking to invest in citizenship or permanent residency. Who would not want the opportunity to live in breathtaking countries that provide families with safety and security?  

In the Caribbean Islands, foreign investors can acquire citizenship in the following countries:    

  • Antigua & Barbuda    
  • Dominica    
  • Grenada    
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • St. Lucia    

In Europe, high-net-worth individuals can invest in citizenship in:    

  • Malta  
  • Austria    
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • Turkey  

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between the two regions’ schemes for citizenship.

Why is knowing the differences between European and Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes important?

European and Caribbean citizenship programmes have several similarities, but there are also some essential differences that potential applicants should be aware of. While Europe and the Caribbean Islands have their strengths in immigration programmes, it makes it confusing for investors to decide.   

Knowing the key differences between European and Caribbean citizenship programmes is essential for anyone considering applying for citizenship.

5 Differences between EU and Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes

 

1. The Minimum Amount of Investment  

The minimum investment entry point is the first way to distinguish if a Citizenship by Investment programme is European or Caribbean. European citizenship costs more than Caribbean citizenship programmes.  

In Europe, North Macedonia requires the lowest amount for citizenship, requiring applicants to acquire at least EUR 200,000 for at least two years in a private investment fund.

On the other hand, investors can obtain Caribbean citizenship by investing at least USD 100,000 in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica or St. Lucia.  

Take a look at this comparison of European and Caribbean CBI minimum investments:

European Citizenship   Caribbean Citizenship

 

Malta through the Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment 

EUR 600,000 

 

Antigua & Barbuda  

USD 100,000  

Montenegro 

EUR 450,000 

Dominica  

USD 100,000 

North Macedonia  

EUR 200,000 

Grenada  

USD 150,000 

Turkey  

USD 400,000

St. Lucia 

USD 100,000

 

St. Kitts & Nevis  

USD 150,000 

 

It is important to note that Austria’s programme does not qualify for passive investments in real estate or government bonds. Unlike the other programmes, applicants for the Austrian citizenship-by-investment should actively participate in the Austrian economy. They could have a direct investment in a business that generates new export sales or opens new jobs. 

2. Unrestricted Travel to Other Countries

Both regions allow citizens to travel visa-free to other countries, especially in the Schengen Area. The only difference is that European citizenship allows unrestricted access to more countries and areas than the Caribbean.    

How many countries can you travel to with your European or Caribbean passport?

European Citizenship Caribbean Citizenship

Malta 

187 

Antigua & Barbuda  

152 

Austria

192

Dominica  

146 

Montenegro  

126

Grenada  

143 

North Macedonia  

125

St. Kitts & Nevis   

157

Turkey  

111

St. Lucia  

145

 

Through the Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment, investors can acquire a Maltese passport and have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries 

Additionally, holding a passport of any European Union member country entitles consular protection and assistance.

3. Investment Options

Apart from the benefits, the options make CBIs more enticing to investors. On the one hand, Caribbean CBIs usually give investors at least two options. Antigua and Barbuda has the most options: real estate, business, non-refundable contributions to the National Development Fund or the University of the West Indies.   

On the other hand, European countries with CBI programmes have more specific choices. The Montenegro CBI programme, for example, focuses on development projects. North Macedonia focuses on private investment funds and new facilities.   

Turkey has six investment options, including real estate and fixed capital contribution. However, Malta has one set of requirements that applicants must fulfil.

4. Timeframe to Citizenship 

Another factor that attracts investors is the CBI programme’s timeframe. Generally, the duration of an application depends on the applicant’s submission of requirements. Both the European and Caribbean programmes follow thorough processes that involve due diligence.    

Not only are the Caribbean CBIs less expensive, but they also take less time. For example, St. Kitts and Nevis CBI programme has a fast-track option that shortens the processing time from at least three months to 40 to 60 days.    

However, European CBIs take around three to five months to issue a passport to the successful applicant. The Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment takes approximately 12 to 36 months, depending on the applicant’s investment option. 

5. Business Opportunities

It is important to note that the European Economic Area (EEA) is the largest single economy worldwide. That makes Europe a hotspot for promising business opportunities in various industries. Moreover, Malta is one of the region’s most dynamic economies, giving investors an edge in business.    

The Caribbean Islands also provide numerous business opportunities to citizenship applicants. Antigua & Barbuda, for example, maintains its lush island metropolis identity, especially with the increasing immigration in the country. 

Entry and Access Programmes 

Citizenship by Investment and Residency programmes can be broadly classified into the following main categories:

  1. Those that provide an Entry solution to countries; 
  2. Those that provide an Access solution to countries;
  3. Those that simultaneously combine solutions for both Entry and Access to various countries. 

Citizenship by investment programmes are generally classified as Entry solutions for visa-free travel. 

'Entry type of programmes mainly caters to those looking for visa-free travel. The prime scope is, therefore, to provide you with a travel document, essentially a second passport.

These are typically lower cost citizenship by investment options. The most popular programs are in the Caribbean, where low investment minimums and quick processing times attract investors.  

In order to get a passport, you might never even have to visit the issuing country physically. Even background checks and legal documentation are relatively more relaxed.

Though the Caribbean islands are stunning, it might be less likely you would consider living there permanently. Caribbean citizenship through investment tends to be more risky and less reliable in the long run. 

European or Caribbean Citizenship: Which one is better?

Aside from considering the minimum investment amount and other factors, the choice ultimately depends on the investors’ plans and preferences. Are they in a rush to acquire citizenship? Do they need wider access? Which business industry are they targeting?    

Moreover, Europe and the Caribbean Islands offer different lifestyles. Europe highlights state-of-the-art infrastructure, while the Caribbean is more of a tropical paradise. The two regions also have different economic stability and safety and security strengths. Both regions offer CBI programmes that allow investors to maximise the countries’ potential.