Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation located in the Caribbean, known for its beautiful beaches, warm climate, and friendly people. In recent years, Antigua and Barbuda has gained popularity, especially among large families, as a destination for those seeking a second passport through Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs. These programs offer a great opportunity for individuals and families to obtain a second passport and, with it, the benefits of visa-free travel, tax planning, asset protection, and banking opportunities.
Being one of the wealthiest nations in the Eastern Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda enjoys a high standard of living. That's because it's becoming increasingly popular as an offshore banking jurisdiction, in addition to the steady influx of tourists who come to dive its offshore reefs.
Understanding Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programs
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs, also known as economic citizenship programs or citizenship-for-sale programs, are schemes offered by certain countries that allow foreign individuals to acquire citizenship in exchange for a significant financial contribution or investment in the country's economy. These programs have gained popularity in recent years as a means for individuals to obtain a second passport or residency status in another country.
On a global scale, there are thirteen citizenship by investment programs in the countries listed below:
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- Antigua and Barbuda
- North Macedonia (unofficial)
The following are some of the most important aspects of citizenship through investment programs to understand:
- Eligibility: Each country has its own eligibility criteria, but generally, applicants must be at least 18 years old, pass a due diligence process, and have a clean criminal record. Some programs may require specific qualifications, such as a minimum net worth, a source of funds, or investment experience.
- Financial Contribution: The main requirement of CBI programs is a financial contribution to the country's economy. This can be in the form of a non-refundable donation to a government fund or an investment in real estate, government bonds, businesses, or other approved sectors. The amount of investment required varies significantly depending on the country and the type of program and starts at $100,000.
- Benefits of Citizenship: Obtaining citizenship through a CBI program can provide several benefits, such as visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to numerous countries, including those with strict visa requirements. It may also grant access to better healthcare, education, and business opportunities. Some countries offer favorable tax regimes or citizenship rights for family members.
- Due Diligence: To ensure the integrity and security of their programs, most countries conduct thorough due diligence checks on applicants. These checks involve background checks, verification of the source of funds, and an assessment of the applicant's character and reputation. The purpose is to prevent individuals with criminal records or involvement in illicit activities from obtaining citizenship.
- Transparency and Reputation: The transparency and reputation of a country's CBI program are crucial considerations. Countries with well-established programs typically have a clear legal framework, robust due diligence procedures, and a strong international reputation. It is advisable to do research and seek professional advice before choosing a program.
- Criticisms and Concerns: CBI programs have faced criticism for potential risks such as money laundering, tax evasion, and undermining national security. Some critics argue that these programs commodify citizenship and create a two-tier system that favors the wealthy. However, proponents argue that CBI programs can boost a country's economy and attract foreign investment.
The availability, requirements, and benefits of CBI programs can change over time. It's recommended to consult Golden Harbors for up-to-date and accurate information on specific programs you may be interested in.
Benefits of Antigua and Barbuda's CBI Program
The advantages of Antigua and Barbuda's CBI program are numerous, making it an attractive option for those seeking a second passport.
- Antigua and Barbuda has beautiful beaches, world-class regattas, and is a cryptocurrency-friendly nation, as the government established the Digital Asset Business Act, which regulates the use of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, digital tokens, and blockchain technology, in the country.
- Antigua and Barbuda has one of the most affordable CBI programs in the world, especially for large families. The minimum investment contribution for a single applicant is $100,000, and the minimum contribution for a family of up to six people is $150,000 plus state and service fees. The investment can be made using cryptocurrency.
- One of the main benefits is visa-free travel, as Antigua and Barbuda's passport allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 151 countries, including the UK, the Schengen Area, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Additionally, investors can enjoy tax planning benefits. The country does not levy personal income tax on worldwide income, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax. This can be beneficial for individuals seeking tax optimization.
- Another advantage of the program is asset protection, as Antigua and Barbuda's laws offer strong asset protection for investors. This means that assets held in Antigua and Barbuda can be protected from seizure or confiscation by foreign governments or creditors. Moreover, Antigua and Barbuda's CBI program offers a fast and fully remote application process, with a typical processing time of 4-6 months.
- Once citizenship is obtained through the CBI program, individuals have the right to reside in Antigua and Barbuda without any time restrictions. This allows for flexibility in choosing to live, work, or retire in the country.
- Finally, Antigua and Barbuda's CBI program allows for the inclusion of dependent family members, such as spouses, children, parents, and siblings, in the citizenship application. This means that immediate family members can also benefit from the advantages of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship.
Requirements for Antigua and Barbuda's CBI Program
To be eligible for Antigua and Barbuda's CBI program, applicants must meet certain requirements. These requirements include a minimum investment, a background check, and the fulfillment of certain health and character requirements.
Below are four main investment options:
- National Development Fund (NDF) Program:
Applicants must make a non-refundable contribution to the National Development Fund. The minimum contribution amounts vary depending on the number of dependents included in the application:
- Single applicant: $100,000
- Couple: $100,000
- Family of up to 3: $100,000
- Family of up to 4: $100,000
- Family of up to 5: $125,000
- Real Estate Investment Program:
Applicants must invest in approved real estate projects in Antigua and Barbuda. The minimum investment amount is typically higher than the contribution required under the NDF program. The minimum investment amount is $200,000 in officially pre-approved real estate. You must own the property for a minimum of five years before selling it.
- University of the West Indies Fund (UWIF) Program:
This option is only available to families with six or more members. The non-refundable minimum contribution is $150,000. One family member is eligible for a one-year university scholarship.
- Business Investment:
Applicants must invest at least $400,000 in a pre-approved business or joint venture.
Furthermore, administrative fees, duties, and due diligence are paid separately for all options.
Banking Opportunities in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda offers a range of banking opportunities for investors, with a number of local and international banks operating in the country. Foreign currency accounts can be opened at both domestic and international banks in Antigua and Barbuda. These banks offer a wide range of services, including personal and business banking, investment management, and wealth management. Antigua and Barbuda banking basics:
- Local Banks: Antigua and Barbuda have a number of local banks that provide various banking services, including personal and business accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, and loans. Some prominent local banks include Antigua Commercial Bank, Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB), and Caribbean Union Bank.
- International Banks: Antigua and Barbuda also host branches of several international banks, which offer a range of services for both individuals and corporations. These banks often cater to offshore banking and international clientele. Some international banks operating in Antigua and Barbuda include Scotiabank, First Caribbean International Bank, and Global Bank of Commerce.
- Offshore Banking: Antigua and Barbuda have been known for their offshore banking sector. Offshore banking provides opportunities for individuals and businesses to hold and manage assets in jurisdictions with favorable tax and regulatory environments. Offshore banking in Antigua and Barbuda can offer benefits such as asset protection, privacy, and international financial diversification.
- Currency: The official currency of Antigua and Barbuda is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). This currency is pegged to the United States dollar at a fixed exchange rate of 2.70 XCD to 1 USD.
- Banking Services: Antigua and Barbuda's banks provide typical banking services, including account management, wire transfers, credit and debit cards, online banking, foreign exchange, and loans. It's advisable to check with specific banks for the range of services they offer.
- Due Diligence: Banks in Antigua and Barbuda, like in many other jurisdictions, have strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures in place to ensure compliance with international regulations. These procedures may involve providing identification documents, proof of address, and the source of funds for account opening.
How Do I Open a Bank Account in Antigua and Barbuda?
To open a bank account in Antigua and Barbuda, you typically need to follow these general steps:
Step 1: Choose a Bank
Research and select a bank that suits your banking needs and requirements. Consider factors such as services offered, fees, reputation, and customer reviews.
Step 2: Gather the Required Documents
Contact the chosen bank to inquire about their specific account opening requirements. Generally, you will need to provide the following documents:
- Valid passport or other government-issued identification.
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement in your name,
- A bank reference letter from your current bank is optional but can help establish credibility.
- Completed application form provided by the bank.
- Companies must provide a Certificate of Incorporation. They must also share their Memorandum and Articles of Association. Corporate entities must also disclose a register of directors and members, a board resolution to open the account, a corporate organizational chart identifying ultimate beneficial owners, and a cryptocurrency declaration.
Moreover, a bank in Antigua or Barbuda will likely ask for your financial records. You'll need to show proof of three years' bank account history with another institution. Banking histories can be replaced with credit references. In some cases, you may also need a letter of recommendation from a current or former employer or client. At least three years of friendship are required.
Step 3: Meet Eligibility Criteria
Ensure you meet any additional eligibility criteria set by the bank. This may include a minimum age requirement or proof of a legitimate source of funds.
Step 4: Visit the bank
Antigua and Barbuda are not places you need to go. You can set up an online account. But you might be asked to attach supporting documents to an email or send them in the mail.
If you are able to travel to Antigua and Barbuda, schedule an appointment with the bank to visit their branch in person. During the appointment, you will need to provide the required documents and complete the necessary paperwork. The bank may conduct an interview or ask additional questions regarding your financial activities and background.
On top of that, the starting capital requirement is $400.
If you are interested in offshore banking services, such as opening an offshore account or setting up an offshore company, it's advisable to consult with our team, who can guide you through the specific requirements and procedures.
What Are The Top Banks in Antigua and Barbuda?
Antigua and Barbuda are home to several banks, both local and international. While individual preferences and needs may vary, here are some of the top banks in Antigua and Barbuda:
- Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB): ACB is one of the largest local banks in Antigua and Barbuda, offering a range of personal and business banking services. They provide services such as savings accounts, checking accounts, loans, credit cards, and online banking.
- Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB): ECAB is a local bank that operates in multiple Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda. It's a commercial bank, so it offers banking services to both consumers and businesses.
- Scotiabank: As an international bank, Scotiabank has a presence in Antigua and Barbuda. They provide a wide range of banking services, including personal and business accounts, mortgages, loans, credit cards, and investment services.
- First Caribbean International Bank: The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has a branch in the Caribbean that runs this international bank. Its main office is in the Bahamas, but there are also offices in Antigua and Barbuda. This bank offers personal and business banking services.
- Global Bank of Commerce: Global Bank of Commerce is an international bank operating in Antigua and Barbuda with a focus on offshore banking services. They offer offshore banking solutions, including multi-currency accounts, international wire transfers, debit cards, and online banking.
- Caribbean Union Bank: Caribbean Union Bank is a local bank that provides a range of banking services.
This list is not exhaustive, and there may be other banks operating in Antigua and Barbuda.
Who Should Have a Bank Account in Antigua and Barbuda?
Banking in Antigua and Barbuda can be beneficial for various individuals and entities. Here are some examples of people who may consider banking in Antigua and Barbuda:
- Residents of Antigua and Barbuda: Individuals who reside in Antigua and Barbuda may choose to bank locally for their personal and business needs. Local banks provide a range of services, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, loans, and credit cards.
- Non-Residents: Non-residents who have financial interests in Antigua and Barbuda, such as owning property, conducting business, or holding investments, may find it advantageous to have a bank account in the country. It can facilitate easier management of finances and transactions related to their activities in Antigua and Barbuda.
- Offshore Banking Clients: Antigua and Barbuda have a history of offering offshore banking services, making it an attractive destination for individuals and corporations seeking offshore banking solutions. Offshore banking can provide benefits such as asset protection, privacy, and international diversification of financial holdings.
- Investors and entrepreneurs: Antigua and Barbuda offer investment opportunities in various sectors, including real estate, tourism, and financial services. Investors and entrepreneurs looking to participate in these sectors may find it beneficial to establish banking relationships in Antigua and Barbuda to facilitate their financial transactions and operations.
- Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Participants: Antigua and Barbuda's Citizenship by Investment program allows individuals to obtain citizenship and a passport in exchange for an investment. Participants in the CBI program may need to open a bank account in Antigua and Barbuda to fulfill financial requirements and manage their investments.
- High Net Worth Individuals: Antigua and Barbuda's banking sector, including its offshore banking offerings, may attract high net worth individuals seeking financial services that cater to their specific needs. These individuals may value services such as wealth management, personalized banking, and access to investment opportunities.
To sum up, banking in Antigua and Barbuda can be a good option for those who have obtained citizenship through the CBI program, as it offers a range of benefits, including access to a stable banking system, asset protection, and tax planning opportunities. Additionally, banking in Antigua and Barbuda can be a good option for those who are looking to invest in the country's economy or who are interested in doing business in the region.
For more information on the CBI program and the process of opening a bank account, contact Golden Harbors.