Vanuatu Citizenship Commission email communicates clear directive from PM’s Office for adherence by Designated Agents to official minimum pricing levels.
In a clear statement of intent to further tighten the management and distribution of Vanuatu’s Citizenship Programs (the Development Support Program (DSP) and Vanuatu Contribution Program (VCP)), the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission has instructed all Designated (Master) Agents to strictly adhere to the minimum retail pricing as defined under the Regulation Orders 32 and 33 of 24 April 2019.
It has become apparent that undercutting of the Government’s officially sanctioned retail pricing has led to confusion in the market-place, undermining efforts to harmonize and standardize Vanuatu’s Citizenship Programs, initiated by the release of the revised Program Regulations (as discussed here).
In an email to all Designated Agents dated 12th December 2019, the Citizenship Commission’s Secretary-General, Mr. Samuel Garae, communicated a Directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) instructing the Citizenship Commission to ensure all Agents (presumably including all officially authorized sub-agents globally) adhere to the Government’s stipulated minimum selling prices.
Enforcement of the directive is to be achieved through the mandating that Designated Agents be required to prove receipt into their operating bank account in Vanuatu of at least the minimum fees for each case submitted.
In a further control measure, the Citizenship Commission will refuse to release Citizenship Certificates unless proof of receipt of fees is provided, thus placing the onus on Designated Agents to ensure their global cooperation partners collect full minimum fees from clients and pass them through to Vanuatu.
This is a welcome display of oversight by the Citizenship Commission, and essential in the stabilizing of prices in the global market. Program consistency and reliability will also improve, helping Vanuatu’s Citizenship Program offerings move further towards global acceptance.
Of concern to investment migration professionals globally will be the added administrative complexity this adds to the citizenship process – which will require those cooperating with Vanuatu-based Designated Agents to set up a process for full funds to be remitted on-shore in Vanuatu, with rebates for agent commissions or other costs, being recovered as a subsequent action. This will not delay the actual Citizenship process but could add significant delays and practical challenges for agents with their internal account settlement.
Retail pricing varies according to services offered; the minimum stipulated price is US$130,000 for a single applicant – but, with additional processing and other fees, the Single Applicant pricing can be US$160,000 or higher.
With the tighter enforcement of minimum retail pricing, applicants will need to be acutely cautious of any offers made at below these very clear thresholds and should ask for proof that such “deals” are approved by the Vanuatu Government.
It should be noted that the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission’s own official website still reflects a level of retail pricing that is out of step with the published Regulation Orders, and is significantly higher than present pricing levels. This should not be referenced for the time being, as it will be updated in due course.
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Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.