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Passport and Citizenship of Vanuatu under the investment program

Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at International World. Author of articles on Migration Law.

18 January 2023 10 minutes read
The flag symbolizes Vanuatu citizenship by investment

The government’s Vanuatu Citizenship for Investment Program, launched in 2017, is unparalleled in the South Pacific region. Citizenship of the island jurisdiction of Vanuatu is granted to the investor indefinitely on two grounds approved by the government of the republic: the country development support (VCP) and donation to the national fund (VDSP). The amount of investment necessary to obtain a Vanuatu passport is 130,000 USD per person. The total investment amount is directly related to the number of applicants (i.e. family members of the main applicant) indicated in the application.

Foreign investor can receive Vanuatu passport for investment within 1-2 months. The main advantages of the program is that the citizenship is given to the investor and their family members (spouse, children under 25 years and dependent parents 50 years old or older) for life and can be inherited. Investments can be made in any form, including cryptocurrency. An important nuance of this program, which attracts wealthy Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians, can be called the rapid granting of the status of a citizen.

What privileges does the passport of Vanuatu give to its owner

The Republic of Vanuatu is a small island country located in the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand and Australia. The state is located far away from big financial centers, which makes it more protected from external economic influences. Among the main advantages of Vanuatu are social stability, easier taxation, and a comfortable climate.

The benefits of acquiring citizenship in an island jurisdiction are obvious. Participants in the investment program and future owners of a Vanuatu passport receive a number of exceptional privileges, which are summarized as follows:

  • Full confidentiality of the procedure. In accordance with the Citizenship of the Republic of Vanuatu Act (Cap 112), Citizenship (Development Support Program) Order No. 33 of 2019, and Citizenship (Contribution Program) Order No. 34 of 2019, the Government of Vanuatu does not share information with the authorities of other states about the participation of the foreigner in the investment program and the granting of citizenship.
  • Remote processing. Citizenship of the island state can be obtained by wealthy foreigners without visiting its territory, for this purpose they need to use the services of the Vanuatian consulate located in their country.
  • Visa-free travel. Investment Passport Vanuatu allows the applicant to enter the territory of 133 countries, including the Schengen countries and the United Kingdom, without additional documents.
  • Favourable taxation. Foreign investors are exempt from paying a number of external and internal taxes: on income, on inheritance, on wealth, on capital gains, on the export of capital and on profits derived from the stock market.
  • No residency requirements. For Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians who became citizens of Vanuatu through investment, the local government waived the obligation of actual residence on the island.
  • Comfortable conditions for business. Income and corporate taxes for entrepreneurs who want to buy a company in Vanuatu is 0%. The island authorities have restricted access to financial records of Vanuatu companies, as well as personal and business information about their beneficiaries and owners.
  • Tropical climate. Vanuatu has a pleasant climate. Nine months of the year the weather is warm and humid. The average daily temperature ranges from 20-32.

What is required to obtain Vanuatu citizenship for investment

Investors from other countries, who choose to become citizens of the Pacific state, need to assemble an individual package of documents, have the age of eligibility, a sufficient amount of money and a good business reputation.

The requirements for the candidate are

  • legitimacy of sources of financial gain;
  • no criminal record or other problems with the law in the country of actual residence;
  • age limits 18 to 65 years old;
  • funds in the amount of 250 000 USD in the bank account;
  • no citizenship of North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Iraq or Iran.

Required documents

  • application form from the main applicant, as well as their spouse, children and dependent parents;
  • notarized color copies of the international passports of the main applicant, as well as their spouse, dependent children and parents;
  • notarized color copies of the internal passports of the main applicant, as well as their spouse, dependent children and parents;
  • marriage and birth certificates of children, notarized;
  • Documentary evidence of the financial dependence of children and dependent parents on the principal applicant (e.g., statement of monthly payments, certificate of cohabitation, certificate from an institution of higher education, etc.)
  • originals and notarized copies of the criminal record certificate issued to the principal applicant and their children under 18 years old by the authorized body of the country of primary citizenship;
  • certificate of medical examination from all participants of the immigration program who are 18 years old or older;
  • bank statement for the last 6 months prior to application showing that the principal applicant has $250,000 or more in financial assets;
  • detailed resume of the main applicant for citizenship and a certificate from their permanent place of employment (if possible);
  • 6 photographs (40 mm x 50 mm) of the principal applicant as well as their spouse, children and dependent parents.

In addition to the basic documents, applicants for Vanuatu citizenship may be required to provide additional information, such as documented chronic illness or belonging to one of the sanctions lists.

The beach of the island state, where it is possible to obtain Vanuatu citizenship by investment

Investment options in the residency program

Currently, the island state of Vanuatu offers foreign investors two investment options that open up access to naturalization:

  • The National Development Fund Endowment Program (Vanuatu Development Support Program).
  • Economic Support Program (Vanuatu Contribution Program).

The basic investment contributions for both programs is 130,000 USD, but if the contributions to the fund are available to representatives of almost all countries, the direct investment in the economy can only be made by citizens of China. Most of the money the Vanuatu government receives from the VDSP and VCP is used to cover government spending.

It is assumed that in the near future both options of investment in the economy of the island jurisdiction will be combined. The fact is that the Vanuatu Development Support Program and the Vanuatu Contribution Program in many respects overlap, and therefore their merger would be a logical step on the part of official circles.

The VCP and VDSP investments are non-refundable. The government of the island jurisdiction offers no other means of investment at the moment. In the future, there should be another reason for foreigners to obtain a Vanuatu passport, that is the purchase of officially approved real estate.

Obtaining a Vanuatu passport: a step-by-step procedure

The scheme for naturalization of a foreign investor is as follows:

  1. Legal advice from an immigration lawyer. Due to the large number of legal nuances, the serious amount of investment and the need for direct contact with officials, only licensed lawyers can handle the processing of a Vanuatu passport. The first step of the applicant is applying to an immigration specialist, who conducts an analysis of their case and selects the most favorable option for investment in order to obtain citizenship. In addition, the investor is consulted on all Vanuatu passport issues and submits the full set of documents required for submission to governmental verification.
  2. Applicant’s preliminary dossier check. An immigration lawyer representing the intermediary company assesses the foreigner’s chances of obtaining island citizenship and conducts a preliminary due diligence of their documents for compliance with the terms of the investment program.
  3. Due diligence. Vanuatu Financial Department (FIU) conducts a legal review of the documents provided by the applicant for citizenship. There is a fee for this procedure and no refund is given if the application is rejected. Payment is made through an authorized representative of the intermediary company. At the end of the two-day due diligence, FIU issues an opinion on the applicant’s case. During the due diligence authorities pay attention to criminal records of the family members, cases of refusal of visas and residence permits, compliance of the business specifics with the amount of income, public and business reputation and connection of relatives to political activity. In case of a positive decision, the foreigner continues the citizenship application process. Successful completion of the vetting process depends largely on the competence of the immigration lawyer, working with the applicant.
  4. Gathering the full set of documents and making the investment. After receiving approval from the government of Vanuatu, the intermediary company lawyers help the investor to submit the documents and application for citizenship to the authorized body, which is stipulated in the rules of participation in the program. Also at this stage, the foreigner must make a full investment in the national fund of the island state.
  5. Taking the Citizenship Oath. Immediately after the full amount of investment is made and the oath of citizenship is given at the Consulate of Vanuatu, the foreigner receives a certificate of citizenship.
  6. Obtaining a Vanuatu passport. Once the formalities are complied, the investor receives a passport of the Republic of Vanuatu, a driver’s license and a unique tax number.

Vanuatu and the Caribbean: a comparison of investment programs

The Investment Program of the Republic of Vanuatu is often mentioned along with the programs of the Caribbean countries due to the similarity of these services, as in all cases the foreigner receives the status of a citizen for the financial investment in the national economy.

When comparing the investment programs of different island jurisdictions in terms of the duration of the procedure and the amount of state fees, one can conclude that obtaining Vanuatu citizenship today is more advantageous than obtaining a passport of the Caribbean states.

Country Time to obtain Amount of government fee
Antigua & Barbuda 3-6 mths. 37 500 USD
Grenada 3-4 mths. 8 000 USD
Dominica 2-6 mths. 8 500 USD
St. Kitts & Nevis 3-6 mths. 7 500 USD
St. Lucia 3-4 mths. 9 500 USD
Vanuatu 1-2 mths. 5 000 USD

Permanent residency for the investor’s family

In addition to the principal applicant, family members and immediate family members may become owners of a Vanuatu passport. The investor is entitled to include their spouse, dependent children under the age of 25, children with disabilities without age limit, and parents over the age of 50 in their application for island citizenship.

Family members and relatives of the investor, who decide to become a full citizen of Vanuatu, prepare their documents and are undergo the oath procedure with the main applicant at the consulate of the country of residence. There is a direct correlation between the amount of money invested and the number of applicants for citizenship under the Vanuatu Development Support Program and the Vanuatu Contribution Program.

Flag of Vanuatu, a family can immigrate to this country and receive a Vanuatu passport by investment

Number of applicants Amount of investments
One applicant 130 000 USD
Principal applicant + spouse 150 000 USD
Principal applicant with spouse + 2 children under 18 years old 180 000 USD
A family of 5 or more people 195 000 USD

The acquisition of a Vanuatu passport by the family members of the principal applicant is a requirement for legal immigration to the island jurisdiction, which means that they must be included in the general application. The family members of the principal applicant go through all the stages of the citizenship process with the principal applicant.

Participation in the program of getting citizenship of the Republic of Vanuatu for investment gives wealthy representatives of Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus the opportunity to do business tax-free, secure material assets, as well as to get a comfortable place to live and rest. Truly successful immigration to the Pacific state is possible only with the assistance of experienced lawyers, who understand the local laws and are well versed in the international legal framework.

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