The 10 easiest countries for South Africans looking to buy their emigration

With credit ratings downgrades, a volatile political and social climate, and concerns about the sustainability of sectors such as education, there is a growing uncertainty among South Africans.

This has resulted in international residence and citizenship becoming an important focus area for talented and wealthy individuals looking for greater mobility and security, said Nigel Barnes, managing partner of Henley & Partners South Africa.

It has also become a chief concern for individuals wanting to broaden the opportunities available to their children, said Barnes.

“There is a growing trend towards individuals wanting to live a more mobile life where they can take advantage of opportunities internationally and make a contribution on a global level.

“For South Africans, the desire for global mobility, additional security, and a better quality of life is further fueling the demand for residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs – particularly those in Europe.”

Earlier this year Henley & Partners released its study on global citizenship and residency programs detailing its findings on which programs are easiest for foreign citizens to invest their way to citizenship and residency.

The metrics used include the actual investment requirements, the quality of life, and the total costs involved in relocating.


Easiest countries for buying citizenship

Investment for residence and investment for citizenship are two distinct categories, as there may be a route to direct citizenship without having to undergo a residency requirement.

However, given the unique nature of a citizenship-by-investment program, the amount of investment is usually substantial, and the accompanying conditions do not provide much choice regarding the nature of investment.

This means that among the requirements are typically a requirement or at least an option to purchase real estate, and usually a requirement or an option to make a non-refundable contribution.

Among those programs that allow a recoverable investment, a distinction may also be made between active and passive investments.

Generally speaking, active investments in the citizenship route normally have several conditions attached, such as specific types of businesses and projects (export-oriented, public-sector) that investors can invest in, and the conditions that need to be fulfilled (creation of jobs for instance).

Different options of how investments can be done are sometimes provided, as is the case in Cyprus, and in Antigua and Barbuda.

Easiest countries for buying residence

None of the countries ranked impose onerous conditions of residence – because of their ties to is the nature of citizenship-by-investment.

This is because one of the key elements of the citizenship-by-investment concept is that the residence requirements are reduced substantially or are waived.

Residence requirements imposed by the Caribbean countries and Cyprus are either absent or minimal.


Individual country requirements

Dominica – starting from R1.3 million

Dominica is by the far the cheapest option included on the list.

Under the current regulations, there are four options for obtaining Dominican citizenship:

  • The Single Applicant, where the applicant pays $100,000
  • The Family Application One, (for applicant and spouse) with a payment of $175,000
  • The Family Application Two, (applicant, spouse, two children under 18) with a payment of $200,000
  • The Family Application Three, (applicant, spouse, and more than two children under 18), with a payment of $200,000 and $50,000 for every additional person under 18 years.

Antigua and Barbuda – starting from R2.6 million

The citizenship-by-investment program requires a person to make an economic contribution to the country, although it remains less costly than other programs on the list.

Three investment options are available in Antigua and Barbuda:

  • An investment of at least $400,000 into one of the approved real estate projects
  • A contribution to the National Development Fund of a minimum non-refundable amount of $200,000 (for a single applicant)
  • An investment of a minimum of $1.5 million directly into an eligible business as a sole investor or a joint investment involving at least two persons in an eligible business totaling at least $5 million, with each of those persons individually investing at least $400,000.

St. Lucia – starting from R2.6 million

There are four routes to citizenship to St. Lucia.

These include a National Economic Fund Contribution of $200,000, a real estate purchase for a minimum of $300,000, held for a minimum of five years, an investment of a minimum of $3.5 million in an approved Enterprise Project, or a government bond investment of at least $500,000 for five years.

Grenada – starting from R4.6 million

Granada, now offers citizenship through three investment options:

  • A minimum real estate investment of $350,000 through an authorized real estate acquisition
  • A business investment option of $350,000
  •  A non-refundable donation of $200,000 to the National Transformation Fund

St. Kitts and Nevis – starting from R5.2 million

The government requires either:

  • An investment in designated real estate with a minimum value of $400,000, plus the payment of government fees and other fees and taxes,
  • A contribution to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation of at least $250,000 (for a single applicant), inclusive of all government fees but exclusive of due diligence fees which are the same for the real estate option.

Malta –  starting from R10.1 million

Despite being easily accessible, Malta is also one of the most expensive countries on the list.

The investment program requires a person to make a nonrefundable economic contribution to the National Development and Social Fund as follows:

  • For main applicants, a contribution of  €650,000
  • An additional contribution of  €25,000 is required for a spouse and for each child under 18

Other requirements include a  €350,000 property purchase, a €150,000 prescribed investment, €50,000 monthly insurance and an oath of allegiance.

Cyprus – starting from R78 million

Citizenship of Cyprus offers visa-free travel and the right to work, reside and buy property within the EU.

Citizenship applications are treated with urgency and are usually processed within two to three months from the date of submission, which is notably efficient when compared to other countries in the report.

There are eight potential routes to citizenship in Cyprus based on extraordinary economic contributions, as revised in March 2014, all of which require an investment of €5 million.

In addition, the main applicant must be the owner of a residential property in Cyprus, with a purchase price of at least €500,000 plus VAT if applicable, which must be held for life.

Austria – POA

A substantial investment in the Austrian economy is required under the citizenship-by-investment program and ranks Austria as the most costly among the list of countries on the list.

An applicant can invest in the form of a joint venture or a direct investment in a business creating jobs or generating new export sales.

Passive investments in government, real estate, etc., generally do not qualify.

Substantial fees also apply when applying for Austrian citizenship.


Read: The cost of a plane ticket in South Africa vs the world

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The 10 easiest countries for South Africans looking to buy their emigration