Garth Coates: legal advice for second citizenship

It's important to understand the legal requirements of a second passport before embarking on an application

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A second passport can open up a range of business opportunities abroad, but legal advice should be sought to make the most of the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls
Garth Coates of Garth Coates Solicitors
Garth Coates of Garth Coates Solicitors

In today’s world of growing political and economic uncertainty across the globe, there is increasing demand from international business people to secure a second passport.

There are many reasons why people want to acquire a second passport or citizenship. These generally include where a person’s current citizenship prohibits international travel or makes it problematic, with lengthy visa processing times. Another reason is when an individual’s assets may be subject to a high-tax structure in their current country, or they may be searching for personal security for themselves and their family. Second citizenship solves such problems.

In recent times, passport holders from certain nationalities have faced increasing difficulties in securing visas to travel abroad. Most of our clients are therefore looking to hold a second passport to facilitate freedom of travel and the ability to invest in different countries and territories overseas.

Success rate
There are a small number of countries that promote government-sponsored second passport programmes. The two most reputable and well established are those programmes sponsored by the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and the Commonwealth of Dominica.

We are a well established and reputable law firm and I have been an immigration lawyer for some 20 years. As such, we have helped our clients over many years in securing these passports. We have an established reputation with these programmes and a high success rate. A vital part of our work is to collaborate very closely with the relevant authorities to ensure our clients’ applications are successful, and that they meet passport requirements.

The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) was established in 1984 and has since become recognised as one of the most secure and reputable economic citizenship programmes.

The main requirements are that the applicant must be a high-net-worth individual of outstanding character, with no criminal record and of excellent health. The successful applicant will obtain a number of benefits by holding a St Kitts and Nevis passport. As the oldest economic citizenship and investment programme it offers the benefits of fast processing times, which are currently between six and eight months. There is no requirement to travel to St Kitts at any time during the application process and there are no requirements to physically reside in St Kitts at any future stage. The applicant does not need to attend any interview or have any previous education or management experience. The scheme is therefore focused on the financial contribution the applicant will make to the economy of St Kitts. The applicant also benefits from being able to include parents and grandparents over 65 years of age in the application process.

The scheme is therefore focused on the financial contribution the applicant will make to the economy of St Kitts

Travel freely
The main benefits attracting foreign applicants are that holders of St Kitts passports can travel freely, without requiring visas, to 130 countries. These countries include Schengen Zone countries in Europe and also Canada, Hong Kong and the UK. This is a huge advantage for holders of certain passports who are finding it increasingly difficult to secure British visas to enable them to travel to the UK for business commitments. In addition, there is non-tax on the worldwide income of St Kitts passport holders.

The CIP offers high-net-worth individuals two contrasting options in how to invest their money. The first is to make a monetary investment into the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF). The cost for a single applicant will be $250,000, while the cost for a family with up to three children will be $300,000.

The alternative is a real estate investment. The high-net-worth individual can purchase a property for a minimum sum of $400,000 in government-approved shares of a real estate development. The investment must be maintained for a minimal period of five years. Investors may also be required to pay associated fees and taxes. There are a number of property investment options available; one of the most popular investments is currently in Park Hyatt St Kitts. This is a luxury hotel development by Range Developments and investors can expect annual rates of return on investment of between two and five percent.

[I]nvestors can expect annual rates of return on investment between two and five percent

Dominican dreams
Established in 1993, the Commonwealth of Dominica’s Economic Citizenship Programme is designed to allow qualified investors and their families to apply for Dominican citizenship via a non-refundable investment made to the Financial Services Unit of the Dominica Ministry of Finance.

The investment funds provided to the Ministry of Finance are used to fund both public and private sector projects – such as building schools and renovating hospitals, as well as funding tourism and information technology projects. There are a number of benefits to holding a Dominica passport. These include being able to travel on a visa-free basis to 100 countries; again, this includes the UK and the Schengen Zone countries of Europe. There is no physical residence requirement for the passport holder at any future stage. However, the applicant must attend an interview during the application process and this interview is usually held in Dominica. Applicants are entitled to include dependent children up to the age of 21. Dominica passport holders also benefit from the non-taxable regime for non-residents.

To qualify, applicants again need to be of outstanding character with no criminal record, have a basic knowledge of English and to be of excellent health. The investment options available for obtaining citizenship are $100,000 for a single applicant, which rises to $350,000 for a family with three children. The current processing time for applications is nine months.

There are a number of alternative countries, with other residency and citizenship by investment programmes. We are able to advise our international clients on the most suitable options available to them, depending on their individual circumstances and aspirations.

For further information tel: +44 020 7799 1600, or email: