Answers provided by Vanuatu DSP experts VIMB
Can you tell us about where Vanuatu is and what the main features of the country are?
Vanuatu is a South Pacific Island Archipelago, situated North East of Australia – three hours flight time from Sydney, and a little over two hours from Brisbane. A Commonwealth Nation, Vanuatu has been fully independent since 1980. Comprising some 83 Islands, of which 65 are populated, Vanuatu spans almost 1300km North to South.
Consistently rated as one of the “Happiest Countries on Earth”, Vanuatu’s location, people, pristine environment and natural beauty render this as truly one of the Planet’s last undiscovered “gems”.
When was the Citizenship by Investment Program created?
There have been several prior programs, however, the current DSP (Development Support Program), which is the globally distributed version was launched on 01 January 2017.
Are there any other programs, apart from the VDSP?
The Vanuatu Contribution Program (VCP) is distributed via an “exclusive” channel in Hong Kong. It is distributed primarily in Mainland China via an agent network. Since April 2019 there has been a convergence in the pricing, features and process of the VCP and DSP. A further program exists called the CIIP – which is a residual program, also marketed out of Hong Kong.
What is the government’s motivation behind launching a Citizenship by Investment Program?
The Government of Vanuatu is looking at DSP to both attract quality high net worth applicants – who might also become investors in Vanuatu, and also to directly raise funds in support of the further development of the country.
How do I apply for citizenship?
Citizenship can only be applied for and processed through an officially appointed DSP Representative. The Vanuatu Investment Migration Bureau provides an internationally recognisable and reliable channel for promotion of the DSP Program and provide a platform for Investment Migration professionals to work with. I spend my time between bases in Asian (Bangkok) and Europe (London) and provide direct support to the Investment Migration professional community.
Who can apply?
Application for DSP Citizenship is open to almost all nationalities, but each applicant is required to pass a stringent probity process to ensure they are good of character and financial standing to meet the desired citizenship profile that Vanuatu is looking for.
What happened to the Honorary Citizenship Program?
In April 2019 an updated Regulation Order under the Citizenship Act was published which removed the “Honorary” prefix from Citizenship obtained under the DSP. The reason for this is to remove any sense that DSP Citizenship is a separate category (ie with scope for future discrimination) to normal Vanuatu Citizenship gained by Naturalization.
One aspect of Citizenship under that DSP which remains different is that DSP Citizens are not eligible to stand for any form of Public Office or involve themselves in Politics in Vanuatu.
How does one apply when there is not an embassy in the applicant’s country?
VIMB cooperates with a small number of selected Investment Migration professional firms around the world covering the main Geographies.
How do I make sure that my application is submitted through the right channels and my passport will be issued?
Vanuatu more than most officially recognized programs is unfortunately plagued with pricing and process inconsistencies. Huge variations and misrepresentations in pricing can be found on the Internet which causes confusion. Very many firms in the market place represent the program who have no proper accreditation and who work on an “ad hoc” basis with local Master Agents in Vanuatu.
VIMB is the only internationally based channel dedicated full-time to marketing and servicing the DSP. VIMB has it’s own dedicated team in Vanuatu who manage the local processing and all-important bank clearances. This provides a seamless service for Agents who are marketing the program globally.
Where can I find a list of authorized agents?
A list of authorized so called “Designated Agents” can be found on the Vanuatu Government’s Citizenship Commission official website. These are the locally based Master License holders appointed by the Vanuatu Government. They mostly do not have experience in the international market and VIMB works as a bridge to assist in making the application process reliable, professional and smooth – and most importantly managing the sometimes complex international banking requirements to ensure the security of funds during the transfer process.
What is the duration of the process?
The application process is in two parts:
The first part is the Pre Approval phase in which the applicant completes the application Nomination Form and submits this with some documentation requirements and a USD 5,000 fee. This process usually takes around 7 days. This fee is non-refundable.
Once Pre-Approval is provided, the Second Phase starts with all the documents required being submitted together with the full payment. This process, subject to the documentation being in order, takes between 30 to 90 days. Usually, this can be achieved in 30 days with VIMB managing the process and assisting the agent/applicant with their preparation of documents.
How much does the program cost?
The DSP application entry cost is stipulated by the Government with a minimum USD130,00-160,000 for a single applicant, according to the channel used. There is fixed scale for couple, family applications up to four. Additional, qualifying, family members can be added to the application at a further USD 25,000 each.
What are the fees?
The Fee is a donation and covers all costs. However, as a Citizenship Ceremony is mandatory for each applicant, there may be additional costs for this to be arranged in one of the regular locations offered – such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and London.
What is Vanuatu’s passport strength?
The passport provides visa free travel to 124+ countries including the UK and all Schengen countries in Europe. Also, multiple-entry visas to Australia – 3 month, then 3 year and possibly 10 year visas are also available.
Does citizenship extend to families?
Direct family members can be added for a fee (new born children, spouse, parents). Citizenship is hereditary. The right to live in Vanuatu; Vanuatu passport; and tax benefits as a domiciled tax resident in Vanuatu (although Vanuatu has no tax apart from VAT and some import duties).
Does anyone applying for the program will be liable of any taxes in Vanuatu?
There are no taxes in Vanuatu other than indirect taxes of VAT and import duty.
Do I need to go to Vanuatu?
What other services can VIMB offer?
Apart from DSP Citizenship processing support, VIMB can offer a full range of post-citizenship services such as:
- National ID Card
- Driving Licence
- Passport Replacement, name updating
- Bank account opening
- Company Formation
- Local travel advice.
In addition, VIMB is working with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Jotham Napat MP in the establishment of an investment channel to act as a “shop window” on Vanuatu for the purposes of assisting Citizens under the DSP to obtain advice and opportunities in Investment, Trade and Tourism. DSP Citizens are full Vanuatu Citizens, and so
For more answers about the Vanuatu DSP, visit VIMB’s website.