And for outrageously wealthy South Africans, the power to move and live wherever they like is worth paying for. “For families with means, it’s really just about giving yourself and your kids options,” says Andrew J. Taylor, vice-chair of Henley & Partners, the company that basically created the citizenship-by-investment concept, turned around the fortunes of a struggling Caribbean island, St Kitts & Nevis.
Around 90% of Henley & Partners’ clients don’t want to move from their home country immediately, but would like to do so at a future date or want the convenience of multiple passports, says Taylor.
Its latest Visa Restriction Index says South Africans can access 97 of 199 countries visa-free. The UK and Europe, however, are not included.
The Caribbean islands of St Kitts & Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda are popular citizenship choices because their passports allow visa-free business or leisure travel for up to 90 days to Europe and the UK. Malta, in the Mediterranean, is especially popular at the top end of the wealth spectrum, Taylor says.
“As soon as you become Maltese you become European and have the right to live, work and study in any one of the EU member countries,” he adds.
“In Antigua, you can either donate $200 000 to government, excluding due diligence and professional fees in the region of $100 000, or invest in real estate, where you would be looking at around R5 million to R6 million, which could be liquidated after five years of holding citizenship,” says Taylor.
In Cyprus, meanwhile, which is also a member state of the EU, a real estate investment of at least €2.5 million is one requirement for buying citizenship.