For decades, holders of foreign passports have been envied by South Africans. Depending on the country of issue, many secondary passport holders may have a vague awareness of what a VISA is, but may never have had to fill out forms and stand in a queue in order to acquire one.
They may not know that in some cases a trip to collect a criminal clearance certificate from the local police station is required or that attending an interview at an embassy may be needed. Then there is the case of a large sum of money standing at the ready in a bank account should the trip go awry and emergency funds be needed. The cost, time and trouble often incurred has simply become a normal part of overseas travel for many South Africans.
It struck me as ironic then that for many British passport holders, who have for many years enjoyed vast freedom in worldwide travel, are now post the Brexit vote, fretting about their passport status.
In a survey conducted in May of this year, CS Global Partners found that 89% of respondents in the UK would like to own a second passport.
More than 34% had looked into investing in citizenship of a second country, with almost 60% of these respondents citing Brexit as the main reason for doing so.
It gets even more interesting when one considers that 81% of the 500-strong survey respondents were prepared to invest or donate up to 5% of their annual salaries in order to acquire the desired second passport of their dreams.
For the Brits who took part in this survey, the top five second passport countries were Australia (with 14% of the votes), closely followed by the US (13%), Canada (9%), Germany (6%) and Spain (5%).
Citizenship by investment programmes
For 81% of respondents in this survey, allocating more toward a second passport than the average person in the UK pays for monthly rent and transport was acceptable. 15% indicated that a contribution of half their annual salary would be in order, and 4% said they would be prepared to pay "significantly more" than their entire annual salary toward the securing of such a prize.
This got me thinking. A number of years ago I had been approached by a Mauritian-based firm specialising in property investments, offering as one of their services, professional assistance in applying to the Mauritian Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP).
That memory subsequently gave rise to the idea of compiling a top twenty list of countries where a real estate investment may lead to citizenship and that coveted second passport. Do note, that according to Associated Press, at least 24 countries currently provide for programmes whereby investments into businesses, real-estate or bonds, can lead to residency and/or citizenship being acquired. This list only looks at citizenship/passport programmes acquired via real-estate investments; if you’re happy with just residency, the options open up considerably. And there are no bigger buyers of residency through investment than the Chinese, where over the last ten years, approximately 100,000 people have spent $24 billion on such programmes.
List of 10 citizenship-through-property investment options
View of Dominica (Credit: Cycling man)
Dominica (Island nation in the Caribbean Sea)
- Population: 72,300 (2016 Census)
- Fun fact: Passport holders currently enjoy VISA-free access to over 110 countries.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of $200,000 (R2.6mil).
Saint Lucia (Island nation in the East Caribbean Sea)
- Population 185,000 (2015 UN estimate)
- Fun fact: The Island was at war with France 14 times between 1660 and 1814.
- Requirement: At least $300,000 (R3.9mil) in an approved real estate development.
Grenada (Island nation in the South Eastern Caribbean Sea)
- Population: 109,600 (2012 estimate)
- Fun fact: Columbus sighted Grenada in 1498 during his 3rd voyage to the Americas.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of $350,000 (R4.55mil).
St.Kitts and Nevis (Credit: The Telegraph)
St. Kitts and Nevis (Two-Island country in the West Indies, in the Caribbean)
- Population: 55,000 (2015 estimate)
- Fun fact: In 2009, the country also received the right to travel visa-free throughout Europe
- Requirement: A real estate investment of $400,000 (R5.2mil).
Antigua and Barbuda (Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean)
- Population: 91,300 (2014 estimate)
- Fun fact: The country is nicknamed "Land of 365 Beaches" due to its many beaches.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of $400,000 (R5.2mil).
Portugal (Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe)
- Population: 10,300,000 (2017 estimate)
- Fun fact: The fertility rate in 2015 was 1.52 births/woman - below the replacement rate of 2.1.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of €350,000 (R5.425mil) followed by a citizenship application after 6 years of permanent residency.
Malta (Credit: The Telegraph)
Malta (Southern European island country situated in the Mediterranean)
- Population: 445,000 (2014 estimate)
- Fun fact: A commonwealth nation, South Africans will enjoy left-hand-side road driving.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of €350,000 (R5.425mil).
Mauritius (An island nation in the Indian Ocean)
- Population: 1,350,000 (2016 estimate)
- Fun fact: As of January 2017, Serbia, Seychelles and Mauritius are the only countries whose citizens may travel without a visa to China, Russia and the Schengen Area.
- Requirement: A real estate investment of $500,000 (R6.5mil). Permanent residence is then issued for ten years and after 2 years of physically living in the country, a citizenship application is possible.
Spain (Located on the Iberian Peninsula in Southwestern Europe)
- Population: 46,668,000 (2016 Census)
- Fun fact: It is the only European country to have a border with an African country (Morocco).
- Requirement: Minimum investment of €500,000 (R7.75mil) in real estate. After 5 years, permanent residency can be applied for and after 10 years, a request made for citizenship.
Cyprus (Island country in the Eastern Mediterranean)
- Population: 1,140,000 (2013 estimate)
- Fun fact: The earliest known human activity on the island dates to the 10th millennium BC
- Requirement: There are two option involving real-estate investment, namely:
1) Invest in residential real estate with a minimum total investment amount of €2mil (R31mil), to be held for 3 years. This must include a permanent personal residence valued at minimum €500,000 (R7.75mil).
2) Make a minimum investment (not necessarily real estate) in Cyprus for a minimum amount of €2.5mil (R38.75mil), to be held for 3 years. This must include a permanent personal residence valued at minimum €500,000 (R7.75mil).
Be sure not to miss out on next week’s Part 2, where we will look at more citizenship via real-estate investment options including The United States, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, Brazil, Latvia, Bahamas, Monaco, Andorra and Fiji.
Note: currency conversation was calculated using USD/ZAR: 13.00 and EUR/ZAR: 15.50
17 countries where money can buy you a second passport or ’elite residency’ - Alison Millington on Business Insider
Over 80% of Brits would pay more for a 2nd passport than they spend on monthly rent - Alison Millington on Business Insider
How AP collected, parsed data on China’s investor immigrants - The Associated Press
Investment Specialist at Discovery Invest
Mark graduated with a Business Science Degree from the University of Cape Town in 2007. He then joined Sharenet, during which time he also completed his B.Com Honours through UNISA. Mark has helped to build, launch and manage derivative and share trading brokerage businesses. He is also a JSE Registered Securities Trader, and has worked on the trading desk at Sharenet. After seven-and-a-half years at Sharenet Mark then moved to Reitway Global (a specialist Global Listed Property Fund Manager) where his passion for property was further kindled. Mark currently works for Discovery Invest as an Investment Specialist on their Investec Managed fund offering. He has over ten years of experience in the equity and asset management sector and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions (where expressed) in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Discovery Invest.