The parliament of Vanuatu approved legislation that would introduce the Real Estate Option Programme, a new programme independent from the island’s other two Citizenship by Investment Programmes. The amendment to the Citizenship Act passed through the national assembly by 27 to 17 votes.
This is not the first introduction of a Real Estate Option Programme, as Vanuatu approved a similar option in 2014 before repealing it only a year later. However, the new amendment will be entrenched in the Citizenship Act, enabling the nation to offer an attractive route to citizenship for wealthy foreign investors.
Once implemented, the Real Estate Option Programme will support Vanuatu’s economy in several different ways, providing substantial benefit to the island. Prime Minister Bob Loughman revealed in a statement that the new Programme would increase employment, bolster the economy and expand infrastructure on the island. Furthermore, the real estate option would deviate slightly from standard CBI real estate practices by supporting healthcare and educational initiatives.
The explanatory note also highlighted Vanuatu’s unique selling points: “The advantage of the REO Program is that Vanuatu, like other countries, has a greater potential to attract retired investors or wealthy individuals in the real estate option sector.”
Its prestige scenic and natural environment is an inherited asset that entices foreign investors and wealthy individuals to come to Vanuatu and seek a place for a peaceful holiday from busy working environments. This investment model enables the investor to tap the real estate market without the responsibilities of managing physical property.”
While additional information is not yet available, the statement also revealed that investors would only be allowed to purchase constructed houses, apartments and condominiums while being prohibited from purchasing vacant land. Other requirements such as minimum investment outlay and which projects will be eligible under the Real Estate Option Programme will fall under the Prime Minister’s decision.
Nonetheless, the statement briefly disclosed the length of acquiring citizenship through this process:
“The Commission must within 3 months of receiving an application under this section, make a decision on whether or not to approve and grant a citizenship.”
With many countries introducing their own adaptations of the popular Citizenship or Residency by Investment Programme, Vanuatu aims to keep its programmes attractive and competitive by offering incentives to its investors.