By Stanley Jacobs, Director of Investment Promotion
At St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency
St. Kitts and Nevis, with a population of 50,000 people is located within the Caribbean archipelago. The twin island nation is known for its natural beauty with sloping mountain sides, warm tropical climate, turquoise water and white sand beaches. More recently, the country has become a magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), primarily in the luxury real estate sector, thanks in huge part to the Government’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
Under the programme, individuals who pass the rigorous due diligence requirements and invest a minimum of USD 400, 000 in a government approved real estate project are eligible to apply for citizenship. Over the past five years, the country has experienced strong investment growth in the construction of hotels, condominium and villas as a result of individuals purchasing property under the Real Estate Option. The benefits of St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship include but are not limited to: visa free travel to over 145 countries, no personal income tax and no capital gains tax.
The 126 room luxury hotel, Park Hyatt – St. Kitts, a new investment under the CBI Programme is scheduled to open on 1st November 2017, while KOI Resort and Residences, a 324 room luxury hotel is scheduled to come on stream in 2018. The outlook for investment growth in real estate remains very optimistic for 2018 and beyond, as investors continue to show strong confidence in the programme.
Under the CBI programme, applicants can now apply on line 24 hours a day and applications can now be approved within a 45 to 60 day window. One of the most rigorous verification and vetting process has also been implemented. These initiatives are part of the new Platinum Standard that has been developed for the programme. Essentially, the Platinum Standard introduces a more efficient manner in the processing of applications.
The Government offers tax incentives in the form of exemption from import duty and Tax Holidays of up to 15 years for qualified investments. The Hotel Aids Act allows for exemption from import duty on materials for the refurbishment or construction of a hotel and Tax Holidays of 10 years for hotels with 30 or more bedrooms and 5 years for hotels with 10 to 29 bedrooms.
Companies registered in St. Kitts and Nevis can repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends and profits. There are no exchange controls in St. Kitts and Nevis and the invoicing of foreign trade transactions may be made in any currency.
A stable political environment, modern infrastructure, no personal income tax, a stable currency, an easily trainable work force and a well-regulated financial services sector are some of the key reasons why St. Kitts and Nevis is regarded as an attractive investment location.
The Government has succeeded in creating an attractive investment climate through sound policies and careful planning. A new landscape of opportunities is now available to investors under defined prioritized sectors. These include tourism, financial services, information technology, agriculture, international education and manufacturing.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme has an excellent track record in the global market place for second citizenship. Nonetheless, the Government is cognizant of the need for ongoing enhancement to the programme to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive market place. The longevity of the programme is attestation to its quality. The newly implemented reforms will ensure that St. Kitts and Nevis continues to offer one of the best Citizenship by Investment Programmes.