The Vanuatu Parliament has passed amendments to its citizenship act adding a new Real Estate Option (REO) for citizenship by investment. The Bill amends Vanuatu’s Citizenship Act (CAP 112), and was passed with the following accompanying explanation.
What is the REO Programme?
The new REO allows acquisition of Vanuatu citizenship through property investment. A real estate based program was scrapped by Parliament in 2015, but this has now been reintroduced with the new provisions.
The Government aims to attract both larger and smaller scale investors by designating important projects that meet stringent conditions as Vanuatu Government Approved Projects (the “VGAP”).
The REO scheme is set to maximise economic growth, attracting retired investors or HNWIs, with a focus on providing infrastructure to enable growth in the tourism industry. The main investor will only be allowed to sell constructed houses, apartments and condominiums and will be prohibited from selling vacant land. Investors will have the right and option to purchase a property at a fixed purchase price within a specified option period.
The benefits of the REO include:
(a) it creates employment opportunities in hotels and resorts;
(b) it creates employment and opportunities for businesses that supply support services to projects, including food supply, retail, tourism and recreation activities;
(c) it expands and improves infrastructure including roads, telephones, electricity and water networks;
(d) it invests in the improvement of access to education and health facilities;
(e) it increases revenue for the Government derived from: (i) VAT and duty on goods and services consumed in the operation of the project; and (ii) application and processing fees payable under the REO Programme; and (iii) increased revenue payable directly to land owners from turnover derived from commercial activity on the land contained within the project.
For those interested in applying for citizenship under the Real Estate Option Programme, it is expected that a decision on whether or not to approve and grant a citizenship will usually be made within three months of receiving an application, after due diligence is conducted by the Government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The minimum investment requirements for citizenship will be announced soon.