Saint Lucia country spotlight

Quick facts

Capital city: Castries

Population: 178,015 (Est 2016)

GDP growth: 1.6% (Est 2017)

Area: 617km²

Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Monarch: HM Queen Elizabeth II

Governor-General: Neville Cenac

Prime Minister: Allen Chastanet

Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)

Dialling code: 1 758

HDI: 89th

Ease of doing business index: 91st

 

Saint Lucia at a glance

Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean, part of the Lesser Antilles. The varied landscape and tropical climate, moderated by northeast trade winds, has something to offer all visitors. From the vast expanses of sandy beaches to the towering Piton mountains, a world heritage site, Saint Lucia makes for a sensational setting.

The French were the island’s first European settlers, signing a treaty with the Carib Indians in 1660. After that, rule of the island switched many times between France and Britain. Saint Lucia became an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1979, and consequently, its a legal system is based on both the civil law and English common law.

The year typically features a dry season from December until the end of May, and a wet season from June until the end of November. The average daytime temperature is an estimated 29°C. As the island is located near to the equator, the temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year.

Between 1667 and 1814, control switched between French and British hands a total of 14 times. Due to the development of the sugar industry, Saint Lucia was considered an attractive colony to hold. The official language of Saint Lucia is English, however, Saint Lucian Creole French is widely spoken.

Politics

Saint Lucia is a two-party parliamentary democracy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State; her presence is represented by a Governor-General. The Prime Minister is usually the head of the party that holds the majority in the House of Assembly. There are 17 seats in the House of Assembly, and eleven seats in the second chamber of Parliament, the Senate.

As well as being a member of the Commonwealth, Saint Lucia is a member of the Caribbean community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). It maintains friendly relations with all of the active major powers in the Caribbean – the US, Canada, France and the UK.

Economy

The country’s gross domestic product in purchasing power parity was estimated at US$2,384 in 2017, ranking 194th internationally. The services sector accounted for 82.8% of GDP, followed by industry and agriculture at 14.2% and 2.9%, respectively.

The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, enticed by a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure, an educated workforce, improved roads, an upgraded communications system, port facilities, and a business-friendly entrepreneurial climate. Tourism is Saint Lucia’s main source of jobs and income – accounting for 65% of GDP – and the island’s main source of foreign exchange earnings. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area. Crops such as bananas, cocoa, coconuts, avocados and mangos are grown for export.

The popular tourist season tends to be January to April due to the weather. The island currently attracts over 900,000 visitors annually, most of which are stopping off as part of a cruise. As well as the twin peaks of “The Pitons”, other attractions include a drive-in volcano, the rainforests, the Sulphur Springs, Fort Rodney in Pigeon Island National Park and boat and fishing trips.

Saint Lucia implemented a 15% Value Added Tax in 2012, but decreased it to 12.5% in February 2017.

Major export and import partners are France, US, UK, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Netherlands.

Citizenship by Investment

Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Programme was established following the enactment of Citizenship by Investment Act in 2015 (Act No 14 2015) making it the newest programme to join the other citizenship by investment programmes (CIP) in the Caribbean region. Saint Lucia has inherited decades of experience in this regard from its Caribbean neighbours.

Benefits

  • Applications, including those with dependents, will be processed within three months
  • No residency requirements
  • Passport allows for visa-free travel to more than 100 countries, including the Schengen Zone, the UK and Hong Kong.
  • Application process does not require an interview or a visit to Saint Lucia
  • Education and managerial experience are not required
  • Global income is not taxed
  • Inclusion of dependent children under 25
  • Inclusion of dependent parents of the applicant or his or her spouse above 65 who habitually live with and is fully supported by the applicant
  • Inclusion of mentally or physically challenged dependent children and/or parents, fully supported by the applicant.

How to qualify

Those wishing to secure a Saint Lucian passport through the Citizenship By Investment Programme must be at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record and be in good health. Furthermore, in order to qualify for citizenship in Saint Lucia, investors must fulfil one of the four following investment options.

1) National Economic Fund (NEF)

Saint Lucia National Economic Fund is a fund established to receive cash investments from the citizenship programme that will be used in the funding of government-sponsored projects. The Finance Minister must seek approval from Parliament for the allocation of funds for his chosen purposes.

Once an application for citizenship through investment in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund has been approved, an investment as follows is required:

  • Single applicant: US$100,000
  • Main applicant plus Spouse: US$165,000
  • Applicant applying with spouse and up to two other qualifying dependants: US$190,000
  • Each extra qualifying dependant, of any age: US$25,000

2) Real estate projects

The Cabinet of Ministers will evaluate proposed real estate projects for the possibility of citizenship. Approved real estate projects can come under two categories:

  • Luxury branded hotels and resorts
  • Luxury boutique properties

The applicant must enter into a binding purchase and sales agreement for an investment in an approved real estate project. Investments, totalling the agreed purchase price, are deposited in an escrow account managed both by the property developer as well as the Saint Lucia based Citizenship by Investment Unit.

  • Minimum investment required: US $300,000

3) Enterprise projects

The Cabinet will evaluate enterprise projects to appear on the approved list for the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Approved enterprise projects come under seven categories:

  • Speciality restaurants
  • Cruise ports and marinas
  • Agro-processing plants
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Ports, bridges, roads and highways
  • Research institutions and facilities
  • Offshore universities

Once approved, the enterprise project becomes available for further investments from other applicants for citizenship by investment. The following minimum investment is required:

Option 1 – A sole applicant

  • A minimum investment of US$3.5m (and create at least three jobs)

Option 2 – More than one applicant (joint venture)

  • A minimum investment of US$6m with each applicant contributing no less than US$1m (and create six jobs)

4) Government bonds

Citizenship by investment may be made through the purchase of non-interest-bearing Government bonds. These bonds must be registered and remain in the name of the applicant for a five year holding period from the date of first issue and not attract a rate of interest.

Once an application for citizenship by means of an investment in government bonds has been approved, the following minimum investment is required:

Sole applicant: US$500,000
Couple (applicant and spouse): US$535,000
Applicant applying with spouse and up to two dependants: US$550,000
Each extra dependant: US$25,000

Posted in Country Spotlights.

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