03 Nov Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment – 2023 Guide
Vanuatu is a string of over 80 islands scattered across the South Pacific. Between its dazzling beaches, ancient culture and tropical weather, it isn’t hard to understand the country’s allure, but there’s more to Vanuatu than Pacific bliss. Discerning investors have a wealth of opportunities to tap into, from tax breaks to visa-free access to nearly 100 countries.
In this article, we will dive deeper into Vanuatu’s famous citizenship by investment program and discuss the requirements, advantages and application process. We will explore the following topics:
- Vanuatu citizenship by investment options
- Eligibility requirements for Vanuatu citizenship by investment
- Benefits of Vanuatu citizenship by investment program
- How to apply for Vanuatu citizenship by investment program – step by step
- Vanuatu citizenship by investment program costs – explained
- Documents required for citizenship in Vanuatu
- Vanuatu’s tax system explained
- How strong is Vanuatu’s passport?
- Does Vanuatu allow dual citizenship?
- Can I travel to the UK with a Vanuatu passport?
- How many countries can Vanuatu passport holders enter without a visa?
Vanuatu citizenship by investment options
In January 2017, the Government of Vanuatu introduced a citizenship by investment program called the ‘Development Support Program’. This program aims to attract high-net-worth applicants and encourage them to become investors in the country. Not only is it the newest citizenship by investment program in the world, but it’s also the fastest. Applicants can receive government pre-clearance in as little as 10 days and the entire process takes less than 60 days.
The Development Support Program is currently the only option for citizenship through investment and there is no option for real estate investment. However, it’s worth noting that citizenship is hereditary and direct family members can be added for a fee.
Eligibility requirements for Vanuatu citizenship by investment
While applying for Vanuatu citizenship is a relatively straightforward process, not everyone will qualify. To be eligible for citizenship by investment, you must be aged over 18 years, have no criminal record, criminal prosecution or serious illness, and be able to prove a bank account balance of at least $250,000. You will also need to make a non-refundable contribution to the government of at least $130,000.
When it comes to bringing your family along, you will be entitled to bring your spouse, adult children (biological or adopted) under the age of 25 years and parents over the age of 50 years. It’s important to note that children aged between 18-25 years must be financially dependent on the investor and full-time students at university. You may also add eligible members of your family after you have obtained citizenship.
Benefits of Vanuatu citizenship by investment program
As well as boasting one of the most beautiful tropical landscapes in the South Pacific, Vanuatu citizenship through investment offers a whole string of benefits for investors, including:
- Visa-free entry to nearly 100 countries
Individuals with a Vanuatu passport can enjoy easy access with no visa requirements to 96 countries across the world.
- Long-term US visas
Vanuatu citizens can also enjoy access to the B-1/B-2 tourist visa for five years. This entitles you to spend up to 180 days a year in the United States and includes travel for business, pleasure, medical treatment and study opportunities that do not result in a diploma.
- Competitive tax system
Vanuatu citizens enjoy low-level taxation, with no personal income, capital gains or inheritance tax.
- No language tests or interview process
Individuals can gain citizenship without passing language tests, interviews or proof of previous work experience.
- Relatively low upfront costs
At $130,000, upfront costs for citizenship in Vanuatu are low when compared with other citizenship by investment programs.
- Low residency requirements
You will not be required to visit Vanuatu before or after applying for citizenship. You are not required to own a physical residence either.
- Fast application process
The Vanuatu citizenship by investment program is one of the fastest in the world. It takes less than one month to receive your passport and you can conduct the entire process remotely.
How to apply for Vanuatu citizenship by investment program – step by step
Applying for the Vanuatu citizenship by investment program is a relatively straightforward process, but to help give you an idea of what to expect we’ve broken it down into five stages:
Step 1: Apply for pre-approval
First, you will need to apply for pre-approval with your passport, certified ID, police clearance report and CV. You will need to pay a one-off fee of $5,000.
Step 2: Submit your investment
You should receive written confirmation of clearance within 10 days of submitting for pre-approval. You can make your full payment at this stage and submit the remaining documents.
Step 3: Submit your application for screening
The Vanuatu Citizen Commission will examine your application and check that you have the correct clearance to proceed.
Step 4: Receive confirmation from the Prime Minister
Once the Citizenship Commission confirms your citizenship, the Prime Minister will personally sign your citizenship certificate
Step 5: Take your oath and become a Vanuatu citizen
You will need to pledge your allegiance to Vanuatu at a citizenship ceremony. Then, you will receive your certificate of citizenship and a new passport. There is no requirement for you to physically attend this ceremony.
Vanuatu citizenship by investment program costs – explained
In order to gain citizenship through investment, investors must make a non-refundable contribution of $130,000 to the government. This money helps fund the country’s economy and put measures in place against natural disasters, such as tropical cyclones. This contribution does not bring income.
Married couples and families will need to make a larger un-refundable donation to the government. Currently, married couples are required to donate $150,000, a three-person family is required to donate $165,000 and a four-person family must donate $180,000. Every additional family member thereafter costs an extra $15,000.
On top of this donation, you will need to pay a due diligence fee of $5,000, as well as other fees depending on a number of factors. For a more accurate estimate of how much Vanuatu citizenship by investment will cost you and your family, reach out to our business advisors at Huriya Private.
Documents required for citizenship in Vanuatu
To apply for citizenship in Vanuatu, you will need to provide the following documents:
- Certified copy of a valid passport
- Citizenship application form
- Certified copy of national identity card
- Police clearance
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Medical certificate confirming good health
- Proof of passing Vanuatu due diligence check
- Personal profile and employment history
- Coloured passport photograph
- Proof of sufficient funds
Vanuatu’s tax system explained
As well as boasting excellent offshore banking, incorporation and strict privacy control, Vanuatu offers a competitive tax regime for investors. Citizens do not pay income, capital gains, wealth or inheritance taxes. VAT currently stands at 12.5%, which is lower than many neighbouring countries.
There are tax benefits for legal entities too, such as exemption from corporate taxes for 20 years. Instead, registered companies pay an annual fee of $300. Owners of international companies operating in Vanuatu are not required to submit reports to the Inland Revenue, but they will need to keep accounting records.
Owning a property is tax-free, but you may need to pay taxes when changing ownership or renting a property out. Tax on rental income is charged every six months.
How strong is Vanuatu’s passport?
Vanuatu passports are powerful. According to the Guide Passport Ranking Index, Vanuatu ranks as the 58th strongest passport in the world due to its high mobility score. Passport holders can enjoy visa-free access and visa-free arrivals to over 100 countries across the world, including Singapore, the Bahamas and the UK (though the visa-free travel arrangement between Vanuatu and the European Union is currently suspended).
Does Vanuatu allow dual citizenship?
One of the key benefits of a Vanuatu passport is that individuals are allowed to hold dual citizenship. Currently, investors are not required to renounce their previous nationality.
Can I travel to the UK with a Vanuatu passport?
Yes, individuals who hold a Vanuatu passport can easily travel to the UK. As a member nation of the Commonwealth, Vanuatu passport holders may stay in the UK for 90 days without a visa.
How many countries can Vanuatu passport holders enter without a visa?
Citizens with a Vanuatuan passport can enjoy visa-free access to over 96 countries across the globe. Moreover, citizens do not require additional documentation for popular destinations such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK. A Vanuatuan passport offers fast track processing when travelling to Commonwealth countries, too.
Can Vanuatu citizens live in Australia?
Yes, Vanuatu citizens can live in Australia. In fact, immigration to Australia from Vanuatu has grown at a yearly rate of 11.88%. That makes it one of the biggest migration routes for skilled workers in the world. However, Vanuatu citizens will not be issued automatic rights to live in Australia. If you have a Vanuatuan passport and you wish to live in Australia, you will need to qualify for an eligible occupation. You will also need to score enough points to enter the Australia Expression of Interest (EOI) system.