16 June 2022

CARICOM & Citizenship-by-Investment in the Caribbean

If the right to live and work on an idyllic island is not enough – become a ‘Citizen of the Caribbean’ with a passport from any one of the five Caribbean countries offering citizenship-by-investment.

No further paperwork, or fees, are required to obtain a CARICOM passport – with all the benefits that come with it.

What is CARICOM?

‘CARICOM’ is an acronym for The Caribbean Community (and Common Market) – an association of 20 Caribbean region nations that operates similarly to the European Union.

CARICOM is made up of 15 full member states and 5 associate member states:

Full Member States are: the South American countries of Suriname, Guyana on the Caribbean coast, and the Caribbean Islands nations of Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago.

Associate Member States are: Anguilla, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands & Bermuda.

Created in 1973 to bolster individual and regional economies, define co-operation for the equitable benefit of all member states, and to coordinate a collective regional foreign policy, CARICOM is, effectively, the Caribbean equivalent of the EU.

The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) provides for:

  • Free trade in goods, skills and services
  • Free movement of Capital
  • The ‘Right to Establishment’

Why is CARICOM important for citizenship-by-investment in the Caribbean?

Most applicants for CBI can be divided into one of two groups:

1. Those who wish to obtain a 2nd passport through citizenship of another country for visa-free travel or as an insurance policy against instability in their home country (the so-called Plan B Passport). In applying for citizenship of one of the Caribbean nations offering CBI, many such individuals are motivated by the benefit of visa-free access to the EU region – for freedom of movement they would not otherwise have, and for business purposes. They do not necessarily wish to live in the country they have gained citizenship of.

2. Those who wish to obtain citizenship of another country in order to live there, singly or with family. This would be because residency in that country appeals to them vis a vis lifestyle, or because they require alternate residency and citizenship in order to renounce their natal citizenship (as in the case with some US citizens who wish to renounce their citizenship for tax purposes).

For the former, CARICOM offers a potential economic buffer against the consequences of future restrictions on EU access.
Most of the CARICOM member nations have strong economic ties to the UK, many being former British Overseas Territories, or British Protectorates. While it remains to be seen how the EU Commission’s calls for restrictions on visa-free access to the EU for citizens of the Caribbean CBI nations plays out, it’s unlikely that the UK would support the EU in all respects while these nations operate diplomatically under the CARICOM umbrella.

For the latter – it’s a case of citizenship offering the right to live and work in any other of the CARICOM member nations – subject to the provisions of individual treaties in certain cases*.

* The exact terms of rights to reside, work or conduct business depend on treaties between the member and associate states, with some nations participating to lesser degrees in unrestricted freedom of movement, among other treaty provisions. In such cases, you may need to apply for a visa or work permit. However, the majority of the member states participate fully in the open, common market.

For those looking to reside in the Caribbean, this opens up opportunities to obtain citizenship of St Lucia, for example, and then immediately spend a minimum of 6 months living in Grenada, for example, or the BVIs, or Guyana…or wherever you wish to go among the CARICOM member countries. (Are you packing your bags yet?)

Benefits of a CARICOM Passport / Citizenship of a CARICOM Member State

Citizenship through any one of the 5 Caribbean CARICOM member nations offering CBI – namely Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis – offers access to most other CARICOM member states in the following ways:

  • Citizenship of any CARICOM member automatically confers CARICOM citizenship. This status is reflected on the passport documents from all 5 Caribbean nations offering CBI.
  • Like ordinary citizens, citizens through CBI of any one of these 5 nations may move freely, live and work, in any of the others, and the other Eastern Caribbean Islands that comprise the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States).

However, CARICOM citizenship extends this freedom of movement beyond the Eastern Caribbean.

  • CARICOM Passport holders are permitted to spend 6 months per year living (and working if they wish to) in any of the other CARICOM member nations without the need to apply for a visa, residency or work permit.
  • The recently introduced CARICOM Skills Certificate (Recognition of Skills Qualifications), introduced under the CARICOM (Free Movement of Skilled Persons) Act, allows for unrestricted stays to live, work and conduct business in most CARICOM member nations*, without the need for a work permit.
    • *This does not currently apply to the Bahamas, Montserrat or Haiti.
  • The opportunity to actively participate in the CARICOM single market – with associated import / export duty exemptions, tax breaks and other CARICOM CSME economic incentives.
  • Regional access to real estate, services, social, healthcare and educational institutions, as well as business, philanthropic and investment opportunities throughout the CARICOM region.
  • Transfer of social security benefits if you move from one paradise island to another – or to any other CARICOM country.
  • Last, but not least, dedicated CARICOM lines at airports will have you settled on the island hopping plane before the tourists get on.

Citizenship-by-investment in the Caribbean offers the greater part of the Caribbean ‘on a plate’. Benefits and opportunities abound, whether you wish to island hop as a resident, or take advantage of a developing regional economy by working or conducting business within the CARICOM member countries.

Whatever happens in the future, the islands that offer citizenship-by-investment are not going to give up their CBI programs easily. There’s little doubt therefore that CARICOM will use its collective economic powers and diplomatic ties to maintain current global relations and benefits to its citizens.

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