Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment: The Ultimate Guide

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Life is idyllic n the two small Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda. With their corrugated coasts and coves that shelter 365 immaculate white-sand beaches – one for each day of the year if you’d like – the islands live off tourism and luxury-dripping resorts are plentiful.

You’d be easily forgiven if you didn’t know exactly where the country of Antigua and Barbuda is located within the Caribbean. But if you’ve never heard of its citizenship by investment (CBI) program, then you could be missing out.

The Antiguan program was established back in 2013 and it became one of the five such programs offered in the Caribbean

All of them are quite similar and compete closely with each other. Changes to one cause reverberations throughout the islands and others soon follow suit, trying to gain an advantage. 

For example, back in 2017, a few of the Caribbean CBI programs cut their prices, which left Antigua and Barbuda scrambling for investment dollars. 

They’ve since strengthened their program. Not only that, but they’ve become the cheapest option to get a Caribbean passport for a family of up to four members. That’s because you can claim a spouse and up to two kids under the same investment fee of $100,000 (plus fees). 

On top of that, the Antiguan passport is one of the most powerful in the Caribbean, allowing you to access 150 countries visa-free. 

Interested? We’re here to tell you how to invest in Antigua and Barbuda and get citizenship.

Citizenship by Investment: The Basics

New to the world of buying a second passport? Let’s first cover what a citizenship by investment program is and what the requirements of one generally are. 

A citizenship by investment program is something that’s created and run by a national government to attract investors to their country. If the domestic economy is lacking or overly reliant on one industry (e.g., tourism in the Caribbean), the government will seek foreign investment to diversify the ways they fill the country coffers. 

Many countries around the world offer CBI programs and Antigua and Barbuda is just one of them. 

They will differ in terms of their requirements, but they generally are as follows: 

  • Invest or donate a specified amount of money to the country
  • The money has to be invested/donated in a way that’s specified by the CBI program legislation
  • A citizenship and a passport will be granted to you as a result

Now that you’re up to speed with the very basics of what a citizenship by investment program entails, let’s have a gander at what Antigua and Barbuda have to offer, specifically.

Why Antigua and Barbuda?

Want a passport to a place where Oprah Winfrey has her winter home? 

You’ll be in good company in Antigua and Barbuda, one of the most luxurious and exclusive two-island-states out there. 

A quick flight from North America and a longer one from Europe, the country really has plenty to offer to the foreign investor. 

English speaking and part of the Commonwealth (ex-British colony), Antigua and Barbuda thrives on tourism, which generates approximately 60% of its GDP. Over a million people – mostly Americans, Canadians, and Europeans – visit the country every year. 

Antigua has recently expanded its main airport terminal, spending 45 million on three passenger jet bridges and 25 check-in counters. Direct flights to London, New York, Miami, and Toronto are available pretty much every day.

Sure, the overreliance on tourism and a general lack of any other domestic industry can be seen as drawbacks, but they’ve done remarkably well compared to other Caribbean islands. 

They’ve capitalized beautifully on their beaches, coves, and lagoons. Antigua has built some of the most exclusive resorts in the world and Barbuda continues attracting people with its untouched and raw natural beauty, and fewer facilities as well. 

It’s quintessentially Caribbean too, with rum factories, brightly colored villages, and friendly locals. 

However, it’s geographic location spells out trouble – it comes in the shape of tropical storms. Just in 2017, Hurricane Maria basically demolished the smaller island of Barbuda. 

It’s totally up to chance if the islands will be hit during the annual hurricane season (July to October) and if they will be, how bad the damage will be. 

Recognizing just how fragile their situation is, the Antiguan government has taken steps and made investment banking and financial services an important part of their country’s economy. 

Just like its neighboring island states, the country lets foreigners invest and manage their capital at a fraction of the cost than in the western world.

They’ve also established their citizenship by investment program, which has raised a large sum of money for this tiny country, allowing it to develop and grow. 

You could get an Antiguan passport, enjoy its luscious beaches and luxurious resorts, and save a lot of money in the process too. 

Let’s see how it could work. 

Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program

Want to make Antigua and Barbuda your home? Or perhaps you just care about its passport and the benefit that it would bring to both you and your family?  You can apply to become a citizen by investing in the country. 

In just 3 to 4 months, you could have an Antiguan passport at hand and start enjoying all the benefits that it brings. 

In return, you’ll be expected to make an economic contribution to the country. 

And even though you ideally want to be looking for recoverable investment opportunities when you buy a second passport, that’s not likely in Antigua and Barbuda. 

In other words, you’ll be making a donation that you won’t be able to recoup. 

While Antigua and Barbuda’s CBI program doesn’t have a big advantage over other island states’ CBIs if you’re a solo applicant, the real appeal is for families. 

A family of up to four members (2 adults and 2 children) can apply for citizenship under the same investment. Fees will be added for each person, but the principal investment of $100,000 remains the same, no matter how many people are in the family. 

That’s not very common in the CBI world (at all) and gives Antigua and Barbuda a clear advantage.

The Antigua and Barbuda CBI program is also one of the few that not only allows for adult dependent children aged 18-26 to be included in the main application (if they are a full-time student), but it also allows for parents and parents-in-law of the main applicant to be added too (financially dependent, 58+ years old). 

Residency Requirement 

Although other Caribbean countries with CBI programs don’t have residency requirements, Antigua and Barbuda does. And we don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing because it shows that Antigua wants its applicants to take the whole citizenship thing a bit more seriously. 

There is no pre-passport residency required. In fact, you can get an Antiguan passport without ever leaving your home. There is no requirement to attend an interview either. 

But they do have a residency requirement for after you receive your passport: you’ll need to spend five days within a period of five years to maintain your citizenship. If you don’t, you won’t be able to renew your passport when the time comes. After your passport is renewed, there is no more residency requirement. 

There shouldn’t be any problem fulfilling this requirement, however. It’s a beautiful country with gorgeous beaches and luxurious amenities to get you fully relaxed.

Main Pros of Having an Antiguan Passport

Route to the UK and EU

Access the UK as part of the Commonwealth and all the EU too.

Low Investment Amount

Get an Antiguan passport for as low as $100,000.

Short Residence Requirement

Spend just 5 days in Antigua in a 5 year period.

Visa-Free Travel

Visit 150 countries, including Russia, South Africa, and Central America. 

Luxury Island Life

Antigua and Barbuda is known for opulent travel.

Best Option For a Family 

A family of 4 can apply for the price of one.

Program Background

Antigua and Barbuda is a country that consists of two small islands, and its citizenship by investment program is one of the newer ones in the region. It doesn’t have an extensive history in this industry like St Kitts and Nevis, for example.

Established in 2013, the program was one of the first to offer an investment option of a donation to the National Development Fund, whereas other CBIs in the region had additional options to purchase real estate or invest in a local business.

Initially, Antigua and Barbuda had overvalued the worth of their passport, but the investment level was on-par with its Caribbean neighbors. 

What followed was somewhat of a price war, with each island-state trying to gain an edge and attract more investors. 

The donation amount of Antigua and Barbuda was reduced to $100,000 back in 2017 as a way to raise quick capital for the hurricane-hit Barbuda. But, as history shows, their ‘limited-time’ reductions in price usually become permanent. 

So, the minimum $100,000 investment has stayed, making an Antiguan passport the cheapest one you can get for a family of four.

Ever since the price drop, the program has seen a surge of Chinese applicants who now account for nearly one-third of the applications. The rest is made up of Bangladeshi (8%), Libyan (7%), Russian (7%), Syrians (5%), Lebanese (5%), and others. 

The year of 2018 was by far the best one for Antigua’s CBI program, judging by application volume. And 2019 outdid it, offering a 66% year-on-year growth. 

Antigua and Barbuda raised $98.9 million in 2019, which is just a bit more than a million shy of generating Antigua a billion dollars. Those are some outstanding numbers. 

Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Woes 

All would seem fine and dandy except for a few recent developments. 

First, Antigua’s worried that one of the program participants – now an Indian fugitive – could spell trouble for their CBI program. 

Jeopardizing a major source of the country’s income, Mehul Choksi’s case has been in the news and has been putting investors off Antigua and Barbuda for a while now. 

Here are the details:

  • Choksi is an Indian billionaire who is wanted for over $2 billion worth of fraud
  • India has requested that Antigua reveal Choksi’s whereabouts
  • Choksi has appealed to the country’s High Court to prevent extradition
  • Antigua PM Gaston Browne said they will revoke Choksi’s citizenship and extradite him when he “exhausts all of his legal options”

Essentially, Choksi had applied and was approved for citizenship before he became wanted for major fraud. 

However, in a world where people only read the headlines, Antigua’s name has been associated with his. This has resulted in a tarnished reputation.

Second, the threat from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the EU is very real. And it’s not just Antigua and Barbuda feeling the pressure. 

All island-states that offer CBI programs have been put on the EU’s Tax Haven Blacklist at certain points, with fears that they were ignoring the principles of transparency and refusing to share information. Some jurisdictions were indeed harboring criminals and facilitating money laundering. 

Due to similar concerns and fears that the due diligence on the CBI program applicants in Antigua wasn’t stringent enough, Canada has revoked the bilateral agreement. It previously had granted Antiguan citizens visa-free travel to Canada, but it’s no longer the case. 

But there’s more to it. 

When you think about it, placing countries on a blacklist is an extremely efficient way for richer and more economically developed countries to coerce smaller countries to adopt higher tax rates. 

This would mean that the traditional offshore tax havens lose some of their appeal and thus miss out on investment dollars. 

How do we know that? Well, when most Caribbean states agreed to make changes to their financial sectors and CBI programs, they were taken off the blacklist, but only for a short while.

Eventually, most of them were re-listed for different reasons. 

We aren’t yet sure what the OECD’s push for the eradication of “harmful tax competition” will do to the Caribbean CBI programs, but one thing is for sure:

The current conditions that seem almost too good to be true won’t last forever. 

CBI Program Comparison 

There are five Caribbean citizenship by investment programs right now and they all look very similar. 

Same stuff, different island – as the saying goes. 

The differences are really negligible in the grand scheme of things, but whether it’s speed or the amount of investment that you want to optimize for, you should know how Antigua and Barbuda compares with others. 

Unless speed is of the absolute essence to you, in which case you should apply for citizenship by investment in Vanuatu (takes 1 month), all five of the Caribbean programs take 2-4 months (on paper) to get a passport in your hand. No clear winner there. 

All of the island-nation investments also stand at around $100,000-$150,000. Usually, if a program lures you in with a lower ‘total investment,’ they will tack on higher processing fees. So it all evens out in the end. 

If you’re a high net worth individual, it’s really not worth spending much time considering if all you would save is $2,000 on one program versus the other. They all are very much the same. 

Finally, when it comes to visa-free travel, Antigua and Barbuda stands out as the most powerful Caribbean passport with a reach of 150 countries (and counting). 

So, if you are looking for the best overall cost-to-benefit ratio, we would strongly consider including an Antiguan and Barbudan passport in your passport portfolio

How to Obtain a Passport From Antigua and Barbuda

Make a Donation

Donate $100,000 (plus fees) for up to a family of four.

Invest in Business

Invest $400,000 in a local Antiguan business.

Invest in Real Estate

Invest $400,000 in pre-approved real estate.

How to Buy an Antiguan Passport

So, how exactly do you get an Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment?

There are three options set out by the Antiguan government, but the reality is much simpler. Despite there being a possibility to invest in real estate or local businesses, the vast majority of applicants (97%) choose to make a contribution to the National Development Fund. 

That’s because it requires the lowest amount of investment, even though you can potentially see a return on investment on your real estate or business. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose which route you want to go, but we strongly urge you to consider a donation to keep things simple. Look for businesses or real estate investments elsewhere – the world is full of opportunities. 

Let’s discuss each of the three investment options and talk about the Antigua passport fees associated with them. 

Option A – National Development Fund (NDF)

Even though it might seem counterintuitive to make a donation as opposed to investing your money in a tangible asset, this route is by far the most popular when it comes to Antigua’s CBI program.

It’s the lowest amount that can get you an Antiguan passport and it’s one of the most affordable options for a family of up to four people in the world. 

The NDF is a fund that was established around 15 years ago to finance government projects that improve the lives of its populace. Think building roads, investing in education and the like. 

Here’s what it looks like. 

The investment: $100,000 donation to the Antigua National Development Fund for a family of up to 4 people. Additional dependents at $25,000 each. 

Government fees: $30,000 NDF processing fee (April 2020) for up to four family members. Incremental payments of $15,000 for each additional dependent. 

Option B – Real Estate Investment

Your second option is to invest in real estate. Only 1-2% of the applicants go for this option, for obvious reasons. 

Real estate is unlikely to appreciate a great deal. On the contrary. It’s risky to invest in a country that relies only on tourism and foreign investment and can potentially be hit by a hurricane every year. However, you could potentially recover your funds after the holding period is up. 

Additionally, not many people want to live in Antigua and Barbuda on a permanent basis. Talk about island fever…

Still, some people will choose this investment route and it breaks down like this.

The investment: $400,000, or $200,000 each if two related parties make the investment. The real estate must be held for at least five years before it can be sold. It can be sold to another CBI program applicant, but only once

You may only buy real estate that’s pre-approved by The Cabinet, which means that you’ll be looking at the overpriced luxury real estate segment. 

The most up-to-date and official list of approved real estate investment options can be found here

Government fees: $30,000 USD (April 2020) for a family of up to four people, with additional payments of $15,000 for each additional dependent. 

Altogether, the investment in real estate in Antigua and Barbuda comes to $430,000. It could be an attractive option for those looking to recover all the money that they’ve invested if they can wait five full years. 

You’ll still get to keep the citizenship if you sell the real estate once the five years are up. 

Option C – Business Investment

You can also invest in a pre-approved business to obtain your Antiguan passport. Again, this may be done individually or with someone else, in which case you can split the costs. 

Here’s an up-to-date and complete list of approved business investment opportunities if you choose to go this route. 

The investment:  $400,000 invested in a local Antiguan business. 

Government fees: $30,000 USD (April 2020) for a family of up to four people, with additional payments of $15,000 for each additional dependent.

Antigua Passport Fees

In addition to the investment and the government fees that are applied to each of the three investment options, there are more fees tacked on each application – all for good measure. 

So, what are the additional Antiguan passport fees?

Due diligence fees. It’s $7,500 per adult applicant, $2,000 per dependent aged 12-17 (under 12s free), $4,000 per dependent aged 18 or older. 

Passport fee. Every person in your family who needs a passport will have to pay $300. 

Agent fee. Whatever fee you agree upon with the authorized agent or an agency, you’ll have to add it to the total cost of obtaining an Antiguan passport. This will usually range from $40,000 to $70,000. 

Total Cost of Antiguan Passports 

Here’s a quick calculation of the total amount one would need to spend to apply and get an Antiguan passport. 

1. Assuming an agent fee of $55,000,  a family of four (2 adults and 2 teenagers) applying for citizenship by way of donation will spend $205,200. This really is the absolute minimum. Don’t forget to factor in flights to Antigua if you plan to retain your Antiguan passport for more than 5 years. 

2. Assuming an agent fee of $55,000, a family of six (2 adults, 2 teenagers, and 2 young children) applying for citizenship by way of donation will spend $285,800

3. Assuming an agent fee of $40,000, a single applicant going the donation route will spend approximately $177,800

4. Assuming an agent fee of $40,000 going the real estate route will have to pay a total of $477,800

The Step-by-Step Application Process

Now that you know what the total costs involved might be, we’ll give you a rundown of what the process of applying for an Antiguan passport looks like. 

Please note that only licensed agents can lodge applications on your behalf. Here is a complete list of licensed agents, who are allowed to help you with the application process. 

That’s not to say you must personally reach out to them. You can also work with an advisor, such as the Nomad Capitalist, to help you out with it all, without you having to lift a finger. 

Personal Requirements 

It’s not an extremely restricted CBI program and all of the requirements are standard in the industry

They are as follows: 

  • You are 18 years or older
  • You can’t be someone who’s under sanctions, restrictions or bans to enter EU countries, the United States, the UK or Canada
  • You must have no criminal record
  • You must be able to confirm that the source of your income is legal and that you have enough money coming in to survive
  • Good character and good health
  • You must not be a threat to the integrity and the safety of Antigua and Barbuda

1. Lodge Application (A Few Days)

There are certain documents required to apply and complete the process of obtaining an Antiguan citizenship by investment. 

They are as follows: police certificate proving that you don’t have a criminal record, a copy of your passport, a marriage certificate, a birth certificate, and a few others too. All of your documents should have an apostille so that they can be legally used in Antigua and Barbuda. 

To initiate the process, apply with your advisor or individually via an authorized agent. You will have to pay 10% of the government fee (so $3,000 if you’re going the donation route) to start the application process. 

Real estate investors will need to provide a sale agreement. Business investors will need to get their project approved.

2. Due Diligence Period (3 Months)

It will take approximately three months for the government to look into your application and
decide on the outcome.

From the day that the Certificate of Registration of Citizenship is issued, you will have 30
calendar days to finalize your investment and pay all the fees.

3. Receive a Passport

Visit an Antiguan Embassy, High Commission or a Consular office to take an oath of Allegiance and physically receive your passport. 

It will then be issued for five years. During that time, you must visit and spend at least five days in the country to be able to extend the passport once it expires. All subsequent passports are valid for periods of 10 years.

Want to Enjoy Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Like These Nomad Capitalists?

“I thoroughly enjoy having an Antiguan passport. Visa-free travel has opened up numerous business opportunities for me in Europe and in South Africa.”

Nicolas Owens

“After obtaining an Antiguan passport, I’ve been able to open up my business in Russia. It’s such a relief not to worry about getting a visa every time I need to travel there.”

Ruslan Janovic

“Antigua and Barbuda was by far the cheapest option to obtain a second passport for my family of three. Now, my child will have options in his future too.”

Xavier Stevens

The Pros of Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship

Although similar to other programs, such as St Lucia or Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda has an edge if you aren’t a solo applicant. 

If you have a spouse and children, Antigua is the cheapest jurisdiction in the world to obtain a second (or subsequent) passport. While other programs will tack on additional costs for every member of your family, Antigua lets a family of four apply for the same price – that’s a bargain. 

Plus, there are other benefits of an Antigua and Barbuda citizenship: 

Visa-free travel to 150 countries. Although the exact list of countries will vary and you can check the up-to-date official list here, you’ll be able to travel to approximately 150 countries without applying for a visa. All of the Schengen area, South Africa, Hong Kong, Brazil, and others.

Access and privileges in the UK. Since Antigua and Barbuda is part of the Commonwealth, its citizens are entitled to certain privileges in the United Kingdom and its other member states. 

Dual citizenship for life. You will get to enjoy your citizenship for life and the same goes for your children. You will obtain the right to live and work in the country. However, you won’t automatically have the right to vote in elections. 

Quick passport. The total time it takes, from the lodging of your application to actually holding your passport in your hand is relatively quick, especially when compared to European CBI programs. 

No residence requirement. You don’t have to live or even visit Antigua and Barbuda to obtain its passport. Lodge an application and only if you receive a passport will you have to spend five days in the country in five years to retain your citizenship. 

Favorable tax. Even though you can’t live tax-free in Antigua and Barbuda if you choose to become a resident, the tax environment as a whole is quite favorable. The country has no capital gains, gift, wealth, inheritance, or real estate tax. Income tax is not charged on income that’s generated outside of the country. 

An island paradise. There is no negating the fact that Antigua and Barbuda is one of the top holiday destinations in the world. Antigua’s resorts and Barbuda’s unspoiled beaches and nature attract over one million visitors a year. You could have a second home there, with easy air connections to major hubs in North America and Europe. 

The Cons of Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship

Of course, there are also some cons to the Antiguan program. 

Small ROI of investment properties. Even though the islands thrive on luxury tourism, the ROI on investment properties won’t be huge. Not many people choose to invest in real estate on the island and go for a donation to the government fund instead. 

Tier B passport. No matter how you cut it, Antigua and Barbuda will never be able to level up to have a Tier A passport. They’re bound by their geography and small size. 

Limited by geography. As a tiny island nation that’s at the whim of nature, both Antigua and Barbuda have been ravaged by hurricanes in recent years. It’s also put in further danger by the rising sea levels.

Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment FAQs

Who cannot apply for Antiguan citizenship?

Nations whose citizens are only accepted if they are residents of any other country: Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

What are the residency requirements for Antigua’s CBI program?

Once becoming a citizen, you must visit and spend 5 days in Antigua and Barbuda during the first five years. Otherwise, you won’t be able to renew your passport after it expires.

How much do I invest in Antigua and Barbuda to get citizenship?

The absolute minimum that you have to invest in is $100,000, plus nearly $40,000 in fees to obtain an Antiguan passport. Every additional family member will add to that amount. This amount also doesn’t include agent fees.

Will I need to have a residential address in Antigua and Barbuda?

No. There is no such requirement.

Does Antigua and Barbuda publish the name of its investors who receive passports?

No. Your name won’t be published anywhere nor will it be disclosed to any third parties, unless legally necessary.

Your Antiguan Passport

Antigua and Barbuda is just one of several countries in the world that offer citizenship by investment, competing with many other jurisdictions for investment dollars. 

Does it make sense for you to invest in Antigua? Only you can decide, but there are some obvious pros. 

Not only would you be able to travel to more than 150 countries visa-free, including all of the EU, most of Latin America, South Africa, Russia, Hong Kong, and the likes, Antiguan citizens are also Commonwealth citizens, which in itself has some benefits if you were to go to the UK. 

The most attractive investment option in Antigua is the donation. A $100,000 investment (plus fees) could get you or a family of four an Antiguan passport and open up plenty of opportunities globally. 

At the same time, the Antiguan passport is pretty similar to other Caribbean passports by investment, so you need to do your own due diligence and decide if it’s worth your while. 

All  the CBI programs of small island states are under constant threat by major economic forces who’d like to eradicate all ‘tax havens.’ Don’t be surprised if Antigua and Barbuda is put on some other blacklist or gets their international banking services interrupted in some way. 

That’s the fate of a country that falls prey to the forces of nature and larger global players. 

At the same time, Antigua has held on ferociously to its position in the global CBI market and, we’re sure, will continue doing so for as long as they can.

That said, you shouldn’t wait too long if you want to get an Antiguan passport for yourself and/or your family.

We can help you navigate the entire application process, from your first considerations of the program to holding your new passport in hand. 

Let’s talk. 

Jovana is our lead R&D Associate at Nomad Capitalist. Her full-time job is to scour our global network to identify new banking, immigration, and lifestyle options for our clients.
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