Wondering How to Move to the Caribbean?
Longing to relocate to a warm tropical island? Wondering how you can move to the Caribbean? In an increasingly unstable world, the Caribbean offers a very rare combination of stunning natural beauty, a relaxed pace of life and political, social and economic stability. In a bid to attract foreign direct investment, various Caribbean jurisdictions are happy to welcome non-nationals considering emigrating from their home country.
There are several routes open to property buyers looking to relocate, including applying for permanent residency, applying for citizenship by investment and retiring in the Caribbean. The options available to applicants (and the qualifying criteria) differ by destination. We’ll take a look at each of the main options in turn.
So, if you have been asking yourself “how can I move to the Caribbean?” here’s how to go about it.
Applying for Caribbean Residency Programs
One of the simplest ways to move to the Caribbean is to apply for permanent residency which is a possibility in many destinations in the region. It is easy to see why this is an attractive option. The Caribbean boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, offers a high standard of living and proximity to North America and many of the region’s destinations are tax neutral jurisdictions, so permanent residency can offer many advantages.
Below, we take a look at a few example routes to permanent residency in the Caribbean. For full details on these destinations and the rest of the region, take a look at our guides to buying Caribbean property.
Residency in The Bahamas
Foreign buyers investing a minimum of $750,000 in property in The Bahamas can apply for a Permanent Residence Permit. Through an investment of $1.5 million in real estate in The Bahamas, investors can benefit from accelerated consideration for Permanent Residency Permits. Permanent residents of The Bahamas may remain in The Bahamas without restriction and benefit from The Bahamas’ tax benefits.
- Explore: Bahamas real estate
- Read more on applying for residency in The Bahamas in our guide to buying property in The Bahamas
Residency in the Turks & Caicos Islands
As in The Bahamas, property buyers can apply for a Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) through a government program designed to attract foreign direct investment. The level of investment required to qualify for permanent residency differs by island. On the largest and most populous island of Providenciales, the minimum level of required investment is US $1,000,000. On the less populous islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos, Middle Caicos and North Caicos, applicants must invest a minimum of US $300,000 in real estate in the Turks & Caicos Islands to be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
- Explore: Turks & Caicos real estate
- Read more on applying for residency in The Turks & Caicos Islands in our guide to buying property in the Turks & Caicos Islands
Residency in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers a fast track program offering immediate access to permanent residency for applicants who make a minimum investment of US $200,000 in real estate in the country or those who can demonstrate a minimum income of US £1,500 per month from either a foreign investment or pension.
- Explore: Dominican Republic real estate
- Read more on applying for residency in the Dominican Republic in our guide to buying property in the Dominican Republic
Residency in Anguilla
Anguilla’s Residency by Investment Program allows investors making a financial contribution to the island to obtain Permanent Residence status via either a one-time contribution of US $150,000 to Anguilla’s Capital Development Fund (plus US $50,000 for each dependant/spouse) or make a minimum investment of US $750,000 (plus US $100,00 for each additional dependant) in real estate on the island.
- Explore: Anguilla real estate
- Read more on applying for residency in Anguilla in our guide to buying property in Anguilla
Applying for Caribbean Citizenship
While applying for residency may be beneficial for some looking to relocate to the islands, there are other options to consider such as applying for citizenship. Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs offer investors the opportunity to acquire a second citizenship in one of several island nations. Currently five countries in the Caribbean operate Citizenship programs: Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis and St Lucia. All the programs enable applicants to obtain full citizenship of the relevant nation in exchange for a significant financial contribution.
To qualify for the programs, applicants are typically required to make a contribution to a national development fund or to make an investment in an approved real estate project. In the case of both the national development funds and the real estate routes, the minimum level of required investment varies as detailed below.
In general, Citizenship by Investment can provide a range of benefits, including minimal taxation, the right to live, work and travel in the Caribbean and a highly regarded passport which can offer greater freedom to travel internationally than for passport holders who face the hurdles of visa applications with their existing passport.
Citizenship by Investment in Antigua
Antigua & Barbuda launched a Citizenship by Investment Program in 2012. Antigua’s Citizenship scheme also provides optional routes to acquiring citizenship – either through an investment in Antigua real estate or a financial contribution.
In the case of the real estate option, the minimum level of investment required is US $400,000, which can be split between two related parties, each investing a minimum of US $200,000.
In the case of the National Development Fund (NDF), the minimum financial contribution is a one-time payment of US $100,000 plus additional fees to cover government processing and due diligence.
- Explore: Antigua real estate
- Read more on the Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program
Citizenship by Investment in Dominica
If you would like to move to the Caribbean, but are looking for a less costly option than the programs in Antigua, then the small island of Dominica may be an alternative option to consider. Like the St Kitts Citizenship program, Dominica’s scheme has been in operation for many years (since its launch in 1993) and has been very successful. However, while Dominica’s Citizenship Program also offers real estate and financial contribution options, the levels of required investment are lower.
To qualify, applicants are required to make a minimum investment of US $200,000 in a designated real estate project in Dominica.
Alternatively, applicants can make a one-time contribution of at least US $100,000 to the government’s Economic Diversification Fund (EDF).
Dominica therefore offers one of the least costly means of acquiring citizenship in the Caribbean.
Citizenship by Investment in Grenada
The beautiful island of Grenada offers another option for those looking to move to the Caribbean by obtaining a second passport. Launched in 2013, Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Program is structured in a similar way to other schemes in the region.
Applicants are required to invest a minimum of US $350,000 in an approved real estate project on the island.
Alternatively, applicants can qualify via a one-time financial contribution of US $200,000 to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund (NTF).
As elsewhere, there are additional fees for applications, processing and due diligence.
Citizenship by Investment in St Kitts & Nevis
The twin island nation of St Kitts & Nevis operates the world’s oldest Citizenship by Investment Program. Established in 1984, the CIP program has delivered significant benefits to St Kitts & Nevis in terms of economic growth. The program allows eligible investors to become citizens of the country through an investment in either an approved real estate project or a financial contribution to a government fund dedicated to the economic development of the nation.
The real estate route requires an investment in property in St Kitts of at least US $200,000 (resalable after 7 years) or US $400,000 (resalable after 5 years) for each main applicant.
In the case of a financial contribution, applicants are required to make a non-refundable contribution of US $150,000 to the nation’s Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) or US $195,000 for the main applicant plus three dependents. A payment of US $10,000 is required for each additional dependent plus additional fees for processing and due diligence.
Dual citizenship is permitted so there is no need to renounce your American citizenship.
- Explore: St Kitts & Nevis real estate
- Read more on the St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program
Citizenship by Investment in St Lucia
St Lucia operates a Citizenship by Investment program with similar routes to citizenship but differing levels of required investment.
To be eligible for the program, applicants need to make an investment of US $300,000 in an approved St Lucia real estate project.
Alternatively, applicants can qualify by making a one-time financial contribution of US $100,000 to the St Lucia National Economic Fund in the case of a single applicant. The required level of contribution increase to US $165,000 in the case of an applicant applying with a spouse or US $190,000 in the case of an applicant applying with a spouse and up to two other qualifying dependants. A payment of US $25,000 is required for each additional qualifying dependant.
Retire in the Caribbean
A third route to consider are the retirement programs operated by several Central American countries bordering the Caribbean Sea. These programs have been very popular with retirees from North America looking for a laid back lifestyle in the sunshine with a high quality of life and a low cost of living.
Costa Rica was once the most popular option but Panama and Belize have since launched programs of their own.
How to Retire in Panama
Panama introduced its Pensionado Program in 1987 and it remains a very popular retiree visa option.
To be eligible for a pensionado visa, applicants must be able to demonstrate a lifetime pension income of at least US $1,000 per month. Applicants with a monthly pension income of at least US $750 can still qualify via an investment in real estate in Panama of at least US $100,000.
The pensionado visa allows successful applicants to retire in Panama.
It also offers a wide range of money-saving discounts, including:
- 50% off entertainment anywhere in Panama (such as movies, concerts and sports)
- 30% off domestic transportation fares (trains, buses, public transportation and boats)
- 25% off domestic and international flights
- 50% off midweek hotel stays
- 30% off weekend hotel stays
- 25% off at sit-down restaurants
- 15% off at fast-food restaurants
- 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
- 10% off prescription medicines
- 20% off doctors appointments
- 15% off dental and eye examinations
- 20% off professional and technical services
- 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
- 25% discounts on utility bills
- 15% off loans made in your name
- 1% off home mortgages for homes used for personal residence
- Explore: Panama real estate
- Read more on Panama’s retirement program in our guide to buying property in Panama
How to Retire in Belize
Belize’s Qualiﬁed Retired Persons (QRP) program also offers a wide range of incentives, including exemption from tax on all income from sources outside Belize, as well as duty and tax free importation of a vehicle, boat, light aircraft, personal effects and household items during the ﬁrst year of moving to Belize.
To qualify applicants must be over 45 years of age and have a minimum monthly income of US $2,000 per month or US $24,000 per year from a source outside of Belize.
Successful applicants will receive a QRP Resident Cards that entitles the holder to remain in Belize and allows multiple entries into the country without a visa.
- Explore: Belize real estate
- Read more on Belize’s retirement program in our guide to buying property in Belize
Find Out More About Relocating to the Caribbean
So, if you are considering emigrating or moving to the Caribbean, there are various options available to you, from applying for one of the Caribbean’s Citizenship by Investment programs to submitting an application for permanent residency.
For more information on either route and on qualifying real estate options, please contact us and make 2020 the year you move to the Caribbean.