St. Lucia is a beautiful island in the Eastern Caribbean. It is known as “the Helen of the West Indies” to reflect the country’s natural beauty and to compare it with the legendary beauty of Helen of Troy. The country’s pride is summed up in its national motto: “The land, the people, the light.” Its national language is English, with many citizens also speaking a French creole.
The country's parliament established the St. Lucia citizenship by investment program (CIP) through the Citizenship by Investment Act on August 24, 2015. The program itself was launched on January 1, 2016.
The government set out to benefit from the experience of other countries’ CIP programs, particularly those Caribbean nations that had already introduced their own programs. It wanted to make sure its own program catered to the world’s elite global citizenship investors by offering major benefits supported by smooth and speedy application processing.
The driving force behind the program is St. Lucia’s intention to support economic growth by inviting major foreign investment from high net worth individuals. The country’s two major industries are tourism and agriculture. Tourism accounts for 65% of its GDP and is considered the world’s number one wedding destination. Its high-end hotel, international recreation, and boutique developments have long attracted the world’s high net worth individuals.
The Citizenship by Investment Board manages the program on behalf of the national government. It offers four investment platforms, all aimed at generating traditional and new economic development:
Primary applicants for the program must be at least 18 years of age, make the appropriate investment or contribution, pay the required fees, and pass a due diligence background check. Spouses and dependent family members’ applications may also be submitted with that of the primary applicant.
The application process, from submitting the application to being recognized as a St. Lucia citizen, typically takes 90 days.
There are no physical residency requirements and no requirement to visit St. Lucia during the application process. Applicants do not need to attend an interview or meet any educational or managerial experience qualifications. The government believes that it is enough for high net worth individuals to invest in the country, without having to satisfy other requirements.
The program is open to foreign nationals and their family members who satisfy the CIP qualifications:
The requirement to declare financial resources outside of the qualifying contribution or investment amounts (previously $3 million) was completely withdrawn at the beginning of 2017.
The process is simple and straightforward, and must go through an authorized agent:
There are four investment options for St. Lucia's citizenship by investment program. All monetary amounts are shown in US dollars. (The St. Lucia currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) and is tied to the US dollar at an exchange rate of $1 XCD: $2.70 USD.)
This is a special fund that was established under Section 33 of the Citizenship by Investment Act. Its sole purpose is to receive qualifying cash investments to fund specific government-sponsored projects. The proposed projects are submitted each year by the Minister of Finance for parliamentary approval.
The cash contributions to the fund are tiered as follows:
Applicants may invest in non-interest bearing government bonds and hold them in the same applicant’s name for a minimum of 5 years.
The investment amounts are tiered as follows:
In addition, each applicant must pay an administration fee of $50,000.
Primary applicants may purchase property in a pre-approved real estate development area. The purchase price for the property must be a minimum of $300,000. Property registration, processing fees, and taxes are paid in addition to the purchase price.
Approved projects must be either high-end branded hotels and resorts or high-end boutique properties. Three projects have been approved, and investment options for those projects will be released shortly.
Once the applicant selects a project, they must secure a binding purchase contract with the developer. The investment amount must then be deposited in an approved and irrevocable escrow account. The account will be managed jointly by the developer and the Citizenship by Investment Unit. Joint management ensures complete security for the applicant.
Primary applicants may invest a minimum of $3.5 million in an approved enterprise project. The investment must create a minimum of three full-time jobs for St. Lucia citizens. Joint venture, also known as multiple, applicants may jointly invest a minimum of $6 million and create at least six full-time positions. Each of the multiple applicants must invest a minimum of $1 million.
Approved projects must be in one of these categories:
These projects reflect St. Lucia’s intention to further enhance its two primary industries—agriculture and tourism—and to develop its reputation in institutions of higher learning and research. As of this writing, no approved enterprise projects have been published. The CIU expects to publish the details in the not-too-distant future.
In addition to the qualifying investments there are processing and administration fees. These fees are non-refundable and must accompany the applications.
Processing fees are due, regardless of the investment option chosen, and incur the following costs:
Government Bond option: $50,000
Fees associated with an approved real estate or enterprise project option:
These fees are due regardless of the investment option chosen:
St. Lucia offers many benefits to its citizens, beginning with the relaxed lifestyle, its tropical climate (balanced by the cool trade winds), its world-class entertainment, and its access to direct flights to all of the Americas, Caribbean nations, and Europe. St Lucia has a good education system and good health care. It is a parliamentary democracy with a stable government and low crime rate.
Economically, St. Lucia is a member of The Caribbean Economic Community (CARICOM), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as being a Commonwealth realm, all of which make it easier to do business across state lines.
Other benefits of citizenship include the fact that the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report gave St. Lucia a ranking in the top 10 for Latin America and 2nd in the Caribbean Region. Personal benefits include:
St. Lucia's Citizenship by Investment is an exciting opportunity for high net worth individuals and their families to become global citizens. The program's simplicity and straightforward processing resulted from seeing how other nations' programs perform. This unique country offers an excellent opportunity to live, travel, and do business in an attractive, low-tax environment. Please contact us to arrange your free, initial consultation.