In early 2016 the island paradise of Saint Lucia became the latest Caribbean country to augment their tourism-and-tax-haven based economy with a citizenship by investment program. Caribbean CBI programs are increasingly in demand from New York to Beijing to Dubai, so Passport Reviewer wanted to ee how Saint Lucia’s program stacked up.
Saint Lucia In A Nutshell:
Saint Lucia is a sovereign island nation located in the Eastern Caribbean Sea. It is one of the Sovereign States of the Lesser Antilles, along with Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Saint Lucia is famous for The Pitons, which are a pair of impressive looking volcanic mountain peaks that jut out of its coastal waters (pictured).
Saint Lucia was originally a French colony in the 1600s, and was subsequently ruled over seven times each by the French and English, before the British took full control in 1814. Saint Lucia remained under British rule until it was granted independence in 1979, although it remains part of the British Commonwealth, and recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as its sovereign.
Saint Lucia Economy
Saint Lucia is known predominantly as a prime tourist destination and a tax haven, and not surprisingly tourism and offshore banking are the island’s two primary sources of income. Saint Lucia boasts numerous beautiful beaches and upmarket luxury resorts, reef-diving sites, fishing villages and guided tours into the rainforests. It also offers the kind of discreet, creative banking that the Caribbean is famous for. As of January 2016, Saint Lucia also became the latest Caribbean country to offer a citizenship by investment (CBI) program.
Saint Lucia Stats:
- Official Languages: English, Creole French
- Capital City: Castries
- Largest City: Castries (Pop; 70,000)
- Surface Area: 617 km2
- Religion: Roman Catholic
- Population: 184,999
- Government: Parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy
- Legal system: English common law and “Code Napoleon”
- Currency: East Caribbean dollar
- GDP per capita: $11,970
- Climate: Tropical, a constant 18 °C (64.4 °F) all year, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season (December to May) and a wet season (June to November)
Saint Lucia Citizenship By Investment Program
In 2015 Saint Lucia began preparing what would be its first – and the Caribbean’s latest – citizenship by investment program, and in January 2016, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony (pictured) unveiled his nation’s finalized program. Saint Lucia thus follows in the footsteps of other Caribbean nations like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and of course, St. Kitts and Nevis, all of whom have initiated their own CBI programs to great economic success. It was in fact St. Kitts and Nevis who opened the world’s very first CBI program back in 1984, and their program is now that nation’s primary source of income.
Saint Lucia has been able to draw on decades of watching their fellow Caribbean countries experiment with their own CBI programs, and they believe that their program offers more options than any such program in Caribbean history. They could be right.
The Saint Lucia CBI program gives investors four separate options to choose from.
Those options are:
Option 1. National Economic Fund Contribution
Investors can make a non-refundable financial contribution to Saint Lucia’s National Economic Fund (NEF) using one of the following options:
- Single Applicant – US $100,000
- Applicant Plus Spouse – US $165,000
- Applicant Plus Spouse and Two Children – US $190,000
- Additional Dependent – US $25,000
Option 2. Real Estate Investment
An investor can purchase property to the value of a minimum $300,000 in a pre-approved real estate development area. The property must be retained by the investor for a minimum of five years
Option 3. Government Bonds
An investor can invest in Saint Lucia Government Bonds, which must be retained for five years. The financial amount required may vary depending on an applicant’s additional family dependents:
- Single Applicant – US $500,000
- Applicant Plus Spouse – US $535,000
- Applicant, Spouse Plus Two Children – US $550,000
- Additional Dependent – US $25,000
Option 4. Enterprise Project Investment
The Enterprise Project requires an investor to place a minimum of US $3.5 million into a government approved enterprise project, and create at least three positions of employment for Saint Lucians. This option allows for the possibility of two Saint Lucia CBI applicants sharing a combined investment of US $6 million and the creation of six jobs for Saint Lucians in order to qualify.
Government approved enterprise projects include restaurants, ports and marinas, processing plants, the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, offshore universities and research institutes, plus the construction of ports, bridges, roads and highways on the island.
In addition to the selection of one of the investment options listed, the St. Lucian CBI program requires the following criteria from applicants:
- That an applicant be of outstanding character and supply references of proof
- That the applicant provides documents proving they have a clean criminal record
- That the applicant can provide a doctor’s letter proving they are in excellent physical health
Benefits Of Saint Lucia CBI Program
Saint Lucia has benefited from decades of trail-and-error from their Caribbean neighbors’ own CBI experiments, and by hand-picking the very best practices, believe that they have created a program with a multitude of benefits. Here are just a few:
- Dual Citizenship – Saint Lucia recognizes dual citizenship, which means that an investor can retain their original citizenship and passport
- Fast Processing – Saint Lucia citizenship normally takes no more than three months for processing to be completed and the passport and citizenship documents to be delivered
- Inclusion Of Parents – Parents of the applicant or spouse (or both) aged 65 or over can be included in an application at no additional charge
- Inclusion Of Mentally Or Physically Handicapped Family Members – mentally or physically handicapped family members can be included in the application at no extra charge
- No Residency Requirements – The Saint Lucia CBI program does not require an applicant to physically reside in the country before, during or after the completion of the program, nor are there any requirement to travel to Saint t Lucia during the application process
- No Interview Required – The Saint Lucia CBI program does not require an applicant to make a formal interview, nor provide proof of a certain level of education or managerial experience
- No Tax On Worldwide Income – As a citizen of Saint Lucia, successful applicants will not be required to pay tax on any income generated from outside of the country
- Visa-Free Access To 125 Countries – The Saint Lucia passport is one of the most powerful in the Caribbean, and grants its holder access to 125 countries without the need of a visa. Visa-free areas include the UK and the European Union, much of Central and Latin America plus several African nations and parts of Southeast Asia
- CARICOM Membership – Much like EU citizenship allows the holder the right to live and work without restriction in any European Union country, citizenship of Saint Lucia grants to hold the automatic access to CARICOM (Caribbean Community), which means they are free to live and work without restriction in any CARICOM member nation, including Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago
Pros and Cons of Living in Saint Lucia
For a high net worth investor hailing from a restrictive country in Asia, Africa or the Middle East, Saint Lucia will seem like a dream come true. High-end accommodation is of the same quality as anything found in a Mediterranean or Californian resort. There is plenty for an individual or a family to do, from outdoor activities and water sports, exploring the rainforests, eating in superb restaurants, or enjoying the authentic Creole-style nightlife.
Many investors will choose a CBI program like Saint Lucia to A) get second citizenship B) use the banking system, C) make a shrewd real estate investment and D) spend some time on an island paradise. However for those who wish to spend more than a few weeks there, the weather can be relentlessly humid, the storms can often be ferocious, and of course, away from the 5-star resorts, Saint Lucia’s infrastructure can be lacking, and living on an island can be isolating.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B+
The Saint Lucia CBI program offers investors multiple options toward obtaining second citizenship, which can be achieved for as little as $100,000, and delivered in just three months. The only real downside is the Saint Lucia passport is somewhat limited in the countries it has visa-free access to. Nonetheless, this is a CBI program that is already second only to the program of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, and is only going to improve in the years to come.