Peter Macfarlane answers a reader’s question on second citizenships
There’s a lot of misleading information out there on second passport and economic citizenship programs, and some of that misleading information comes from the very sources that you would normally trust to be accurate – like the governments involved.
One example of this is Montenegro, a small European country with some of Europe’s most beautiful coastline, into which serious money from some very serious investors is discreetly flowing (look for example at the Porto Montenegro development.) I was there last year, shortly after the Montenegrin government announced the first new official economic citizenship program since after 9/11.
Although it was formally announced in 2010, the program appears to have been semi-officially available since 2008. The legal basis for the economic citizenship program is found in Article 12 of the Citizenship Act of 2008:
“An adult person may be granted Montenegrin citizenship if he or she does not fulfill the requirements referred to in Article 8 of this Law if it would be in the scientific, economic, cultural, sport, national, or other interest of Montenegro”.
During this time, for example, the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra received Montenegrin citizenship.
At the end of last year the program was supposedly suspended because of pressure from the European Union. It is, however, our understanding that this program remains open on a semi-official basis. Obtaining a second passport is really just a matter of approaching the government and making a substantial investment in the country. This investment is tax-free and may be in the form of government bonds, bank deposits or real estate. Of course, professional advice is a necessity in transactions of this nature.
A well-designed citizenship program, such as that operated by St Kitts and Nevis, can attract investors and badly needed investment capital to Montenegro, or to any country that decides to implement such a program for that matter. We hope that in future Montenegro will once again see its way to relaunching this program.