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Country Spotlight: Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda at a Glance

Government: Federal monarchy, Parliamentary system
Capital: St. John’s
Dialing code: 268
Area: 443 kilometres²
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Official language: English

Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island state located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands. Antigua and Barbuda is an independent Commonwealth state and was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and later became a British settlement. Under Lord Nelson, it became Britain’s main naval base from which it patrolled the West Indies.

Antigua is 108 square miles or 279.7 square kilometres and Barbuda is 62 square miles or 160.6 square kilometres. Antigua and Barbuda combined is 170 square miles or 440.3 square kilometres. Antigua, and its flatland topography, was well suited to produce its early crops of tobacco, cotton and ginger. The main industry, however, developed into sugar cane farming which lasted for over 200 years. Today, with its 30 year independence from Britain, Antigua’s key industry is tourism and related service industries. The next largest employers are the finance services industry and the government.

Antigua and Barbuda is a constitutional monarchy with a British style parliamentary system of government. The Queen has her representative, an appointed Governor General, representing the Queen as the Head of State. The Government is composed of two chambers: the elected 17 member House of Representatives, led by the Prime Minister; and the 17 member Senate. 11 of the Senate members are appointed by the Governor General under the guidance of the Prime Minister, four members are appointed under the direction of the Leader of the Opposition and two by the Governor General. General elections are mandated every five years and can be called earlier. The High Court and Court of Appeal are the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Privy Council in London.

With some 365 beaches of clean, clear turquoise waters, the lush tropical island of Antigua is an inviting paradise and considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. As a result, tourism is the key driver of GDP and generates around 60% of the island’s income, with key target markets being the US, Canada and Europe.

Antigua has experienced a challenging economic environment in recent years. However, the Government has been credited with its implementation of the National Economic and Social Transformation Plan and a debt restructuring effort. One of the initiatives to support the nation’s economy is the introduction of a citizenship by investment program.

Antigua’s commitment to serving its tourism industry and increasing its GDP is demonstrated with the airport expansion project set to be completed in 2013. It is worth USD 45 million and includes three passenger jet bridges and more than two dozen check-in counters, creating an overall higher efficiency for passenger arrival. It will also allow an increase in scheduled, charter and inter-island flights. There are already direct flights to Antigua from London, New York, Miami and Toronto in place.

Residents of Antigua and Barbuda benefit from no capital gains tax or estate taxes. Income taxes are progressive to 25% and for non-residents, they are at a flat rate of 25%. Proposed amendments to Part 111 Section 5 of the Income Tax Act will change taxation on worldwide income to taxation on income sourced within Antigua and Barbuda.

The currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD), which is pegged to the USD at 2.70 XCD/USD. Antigua is a member of the United Nations (UN), the British Commonwealth, Caricom and the Organisation of American States (OAS), among many other international organizations. Holders of the Antiguan passport enjoy visa free travel to approximately 126 countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and the countries of the Schengen area. Holders of this passport, like all Caribbean countries, do require a visa to enter the US as they are not a member of the Visa Waiver Program.

Citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda

Legislation:

  • Citizenship by Investment Application Form AB1 – Sample
  • Photograph and Signature Certificate Form AB2 – Sample
  • Medical Certificate Form AB3 – Sample
  • Investment Confirmation Form AB4 – Sample
  • Agent Form Form AB5 – Sample

The Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) was established following parliamentary assent to the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Regulations 2014.

The Regulations regarding citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda are contained in Section 6 of the Citizenship by Investment Act, 2014. These provisions allow the government to operate a program under which citizenship is granted to persons who qualify under criteria set by parliamentary decision.

Requirements and Procedures

The Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) requires a person to make a significant economic contribution to the Country. In exchange, and subject to stringent application procedures, including thorough background checks, the applicants and their families are granted citizenship. To qualify for citizenship, the primary applicant must be over 18 years of age, meet the application requirements and select one of the following three investment options:

  • A contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF) of a minimum non-refundable amount of USD 200,000.**
  • An investment of at least USD 400,000 into one of the approved real estate projects and to be held for a minimum period of five years.
  • An investment of a minimum of USD 1,500,000 directly into an eligible business as a sole investor or a joint investment involving at least two persons in an eligible business totalling at least USD 5,000,000 and each of those persons individually invests at least USD 400,000.

All three investment options are subject to government processing and due diligence fees.

Ineligible applicants are as follows:

  • Where an applicant has provided false information on his or her application.
  • Where a medical practitioner states that any of the family members is suffering from a contagious disease and/or serious health problems.
  • Not having received a free pardon, has at any time previously been convicted in any country of an offence for which the maximum custodial penalty is in excess of six months imprisonment.
  • Is the subject of a criminal investigation.
  • Is a potential national security risk to Antigua and Barbuda or to any other country.
  • Is involved in any activity likely to cause disrepute to Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Has been denied a visa to a country with which Antigua and Barbuda has visa-free travel and who has not subsequently obtained a visa to the country that issued the denial.

Deprivation of citizenship may occur if the citizen does not spend at least five days in Antigua and Barbuda during the period of five calendar years after having obtained citizenship and they will not be entitled to repayment of any investment, contribution or purchase price made by them in their original application for citizenship.

Deprivation of citizenship will occur where such registration as a citizen was obtained by false representation, fraud or wilful concealment of material facts, or if the person has been convicted in Antigua and Barbuda of an act of treason or sedition.

Dependants

Family applications will be considered to include the following family members:

  • A spouse of the main applicant.
  • A child of the main applicant or his or her spouse who is less than 18 years of age.
  • A child of the main applicant or his or her spouse who is at least 18 years and less than 26 years of age and who is in full time attendance at a recognised institution of higher learning and fully supported by the main applicant.
  • A child of the main applicant or of the spouse of the main applicant who is at least 18 years of age, who is physically or mentally challenged, and who is living with and fully supported by the main applicant.
  • Parents or grandparents of the main applicant or his or her spouse above the age of 65 years living with and fully supported by the main applicant.

For the purposes of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program, ‘child’ means a biological or legally adopted child of the main applicant, or of the spouse of the main applicant.

Benefits

Antigua and Barbuda Passport

The passport will be valid for a period of 5 years and will be considered for renewal subject to the recipient having spent a total of five days in Antigua and Barbuda, since gaining citizenship, within the five year period. The passport does not afford automatic voting rights and persons would need to qualify as outlined in the Representation of the People Act.

The passport will afford the holder visa free travel to 131 countries that includes Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, U.K. and the European Union.

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