New Zealand Investor Visa Program Review
When you think of New Zealand, do you imagine a country with more sheep than people, famous as a backdrop for the movies of Peter Jackson, a distant cousin of Australia? Think again: New Zealand is fast emerging as a business powerhouse that could soon usurp Australia, much like Singapore has usurped Malaysia. The great news is New Zealand have an excellent Investor Visa program, so Passport Reviewer checked it out.
In January 2017 German-born US tech billionaire Peter Thiel, famous for being a co-founder of PayPal and on the board at Facebook, announced he had taken out full New Zealand citizenship, thrusting the country normally overshadowed by neighbor Australia firmly in to the spotlight. It now seems that Thiel is not alone, and plenty of high net worth investors are looking to get in on the act and be a part of one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
So what’s so suddenly intriguing about this little island at the bottom of the world, and why are so many wealthy and talented Americans – not to mention Europeans and Chinese – queueing up to take advantage of its investor visa program?
New Zealand In A Nutshell
New Zealand is an island nation located in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean off the Southeast coast of Australia. It consists of two main volcanic, mountainous islands named North Island and South Island. New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is situated on North Island, as is Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most prosperous city. The larger, less populous South Island is home to Christchurch, the country’s second largest city. The entire population of South Island is 1.1 million, less than a quarter of the country’s total inhabitants.
New Zealand declared its independence from Great Britain in 1835, and that was formally recognized in 1840. Despite its small size and (at that time) tiny population, it soon established its own identity, in no small part thanks to the introduction of rugby in 1870. The powerfully built Maori natives showed a natural aptitude for the sport, which they soon mastered. In 1903, New Zealand played Australia for the first ever time at the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of over 30,000 spectators. In a glimpse into the future and their continued domination of rugby to this day, New Zealand thrashed the hosts 22–3.
New Zealand proved itself a valid member of the British Commonwealth, fighting with great valor and distinction in both of the 20th century’s World Wars. The country also experienced considerable migration from Europe, and the population is now 74% of European extraction, with the remainder made up Maoris and other Pacific peoples, plus a large amount of Asians, predominantly Chinese.
New Zealand Economy
New Zealand has a high-income economy, resulting in a high standard of living and excellent healthcare and education. The country was ranked third in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom behind only Hong Kong and Singapore and ahead of Switzerland, Australia and Canada. It also placed ninth in the 2015 Human Development Index, ahead of Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Luxembourg, Japan and France. Additionally, New Zealand has been ranked first in the world for Social Progression, which incorporates subjects like basic human needs, foundations of well-being and the level of opportunity available to its citizens.
Where once agriculture made up the bulk of New Zealand’s economy, it now accounts for only 7%. The services industry accounts for 74% of the country’s economy while traditional heavy industry makes up 19%. In order, New Zealand’s main economic trading partners are Australia, China, the United States and Japan.
Tourism is also an integral part of the New Zealand economy, directly contributing some $8 billion per annum, and supporting a workforce of over 110,000 people. Annually, New Zealand has around 15 million tourists. New Zealand caters for a wide range of tourism, from the extreme sports lovers to the Eco-tourists. Because New Zealand was the location for director Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus the subsequent trio of Hobbit movies, many tourists come purely to see the locations where filming took place.
The bulk of New Zealand’s tourism comes from Australia, followed by China, the United States, UK, Japan and Germany.
New Zealand Stats:
- Official Languages: English, Maori
- Capital City: Wellington
- Largest City: Auckland (pop: 1.5 million)
- Surface Area: 268,000 km2
- Religion: Christianity
- Population: 4.75 million
- Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Legal system: Based on English law
- Currency: New Zealand dollar
- GDP per capita: $36,950
- Climate: New Zealand has a largely temperate climate – mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine
New Zealand Investor Visa Program
High net worth foreign investors can obtain New Zealand permanent residency via the New Zealand Investor and New Zealand Investor Plus visas. To be eligible for either visa applicants must first fulfill the following criteria:
- Be 65 years of age or younger
- Show authorized proof of at least three years of business experience
- Be able to speak English fluently
- Any members of the applicant’s family must also speak English fluently
Financially, a foreign investor will be required to complete the following:
- An investor must make a NZ $1.5 million investment into New Zealand Government Bonds to be held for a period of five years
- An investor must demonstrate that they have the intention, capacity and ability to settle in New Zealand
Investor Plus Visa Program
Wealthy foreign investors can also apply for New Zealand’s Investor Plus Visa program. To be eligible for the Investor Plus program, an applicant must make a NZ $10 million investment into the New Zealand economy over a period of three years.
Investor Plus applicants are not subject to language, age, or experience requirements.
Benefits Of New Zealand Investor Visa
There are a multitude of benefits associated with the New Zealand Investor Visa, here are just some of them:
- The $1.5 million is fully refundable after five years
- An applicant’s family can be included at no additional cost
- New Zealand ranks high for education, health care and living standards
- The New Zealand economy is one of the fastest-growing and strongest in the world
- The World Bank recently stated that New Zealand had surpassed Singapore as the number one place to do business in the world
- Transparency International rank New Zealand as the world’s least corrupt country
- After three years, a resident can apply for full New Zealand citizenship
- The New Zealand passport has visa free access to 171 countries, making it the seventh most powerful passport in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index. Areas of the world in which a New Zealand passport holder can access visa free include North and South America, Central America and the Caribbean, parts of Africa, Western Europe in its entirety, areas of Asia and all of Australasia
Pros and Cons of Living in New Zealand
Considering New Zealand is a relatively small country, its general lack of population outside of its main cities and towns means it has vast expanses that are not dissimilar to Wyoming, Idaho and Alaska in the United States. Its three principal cities of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington are extremely modern and highly developed with excellent facilities. The cost of living in New Zealand is roughly half of what it is in the US or Europe, while the standard of living, healthcare and education is outstanding. Even the most fabulous pieces of real estate are a fraction of what one would pay in any other developed country.
There are very few downsides to living in New Zealand, aside from the pace of life outside of Auckland can be a little slow, and the inescapable fact that one is living on a small island in the Pacific adrift of the rest of the world.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B+
The only reason Passport Reviewer doesn’t give New Zealand a straight A for its investor visa program is purely geographical; no matter how one dresses it up, the country still is somewhat isolated, which to some people is also one of its charms, while to others could be a recipe for disaster. Basically, one still has to jump on a plane or a ship if they want to travel to another country.
The program itself is excellent, and while the initial outlay of $1.5 million is not cheap, it’s fully refunded after five years. It will be interesting to see if New Zealand can become another Singapore – a country that economically punches well above its weight class and outperforms its larger, more illustrious neighbor Australia, just as Singapore outperforms Malaysia.
In the meantime New Zealand is a truly enchanting place to spend some time, and Auckland is one of the most happening places in Southeast Asia right now, so expect an influx of well healed Americans, plus Chinese and Europeans in the coming months.