10 Jan 2014
To what extent can the Caribbean citizenship programmes support an international wealth preservation strategy? According to UK lawyer and Citizens International CEO Jimmy Webster, wealthy private clients the world over are looking at second citizenships for three main reasons.
“The primary motivation for the majority of investors to date is a second passport that allows them to travel more freely around the world,” says Webster. Many successful business people across Asia and the Middle East are particularly frustrated by the time delays and issues associated with gaining visas to enter western countries for legitimate business purposes.
“Secondly, this market also views second citizenship as a back-up option for personal security for themselves and their families, should their home countries become destabilised. The third but fastest-growing segment is international private clients who are looking for the best practice to preserve their wealth.”
[T]his market also views second citizenship as a back-up option for personal security for themselves and their families, should their home become destabilised
Islands of opportunity
Caribbean citizenship is particularly well suited to this strategy, as there is little to no residency requirement and no taxation on international income in the island nations of St Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda. In this case the individual needs to make sure they spend less than the minimum amount of time in the country where they fear extraordinary taxation, and spend some of this non-domicile time in a place such as Antigua. With celebrities such as Giorgio Armani and Eric Clapton having had residences on Antigua for a long time, the needs of the discerning international high-net-worth client are well catered for.
Citizens International specialises in offering affluent individuals the opportunity to apply for citizenship through a minimum luxury property investment of $400,000 in either St Kitts or Antigua, both independent member nations of the Commonwealth.
“St Kitts has been offering their programme since the 1980s, but it is only in the last five years that is has really gained momentum and although the government keeps its citizens’ information confidential, we believe scores of families from Asia, the Middle East, and increasingly from Europe and the US have recently been applying for citizenship there,” explains Webster.
In tandem with the popularity of the citizenship programme has been the growth of St Kitts as a tourist destination. Supported by the development generated by its new citizens, St Kitts is enjoying an industry boom including a new Park Hyatt Hotel and luxury residential developments comprising championship golf courses, marinas, boutique hotels, and shopping malls.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the programme is brand new, having passed legislation in the summer of 2013; however, the island is already positioned and well known as a top western destination for recreational travel.
The immediate and tangible rewards that have brought the world’s elite to these islands for generations are especially evident in Antigua, where thousands of international travellers visit annually and leave harbouring dreams of having a home there. Relaxed, yet sophisticated, resident families enjoy world-class education at the Island Academy, one of the two international baccalaureate schools in the entire Caribbean.
The lifestyle at any age is idyllic in Antigua, among a mosaic of cultures, with its laid-back elegance, turquoise waters, international restaurants, and yachting community. A favourite vacation spot for both industry luminaries and celebrity icons, Antigua and Barbuda does not have to work hard to be considered an international destination.