Montenegro launched its Citizenship by Investment Program in 2019. The scheme was designed to spur much-needed capital into the country’s economy, although it was capped to just 2,000 applications and limited in time – the program will expire by the end of 2021. Investment thresholds for the program are different in the North and the South of the country, including the capital city Podgorica. But, along with the real estate investment, applicants for the program need to make a non-refundable contribution to the special government fund.
Montenegro is yet to be discovered a hidden gem of the Balkans. With magnificent mountain terrain and the picturesque Adriatic Sea coastline, the country has become a favorite destination for international tourism. The contemporary Montenegrin state is very young – previously part of Yugoslavia, it declared independence from Serbia on June 3, 2006. Nowadays, it is already a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and is expected soon to join the European Union (EU), thus, making its citizenship more valuable. Meanwhile, the country is on the path of reforms to achieve sustainable development, build a viable democracy and preserve the rule of law.
In a bid to attract more foreign direct investment needed to enhance infrastructure and drive economic growth, the Montenegrin authorities launched the citizenship by investment program on January 3, 2019. The official name of the scheme is a ‘Development Programme for Acquisition of Montenegrin Citizenship by Admission for Investment Purposes,’ and it is limited in time and number of applications. Only 2000 applications will be accepted in the period of 3 years, and by the end of 2021, the program will expire.
Montenegro’s citizenship by investment program has a ‘donation plus investment’ structure. In order to qualify for Montenegrin citizenship under the CBI program, the main applicant has to make a non-refundable contribution of at least EUR 100,000 to the special government fund and choose one of two investment options into the government-approved real estate projects:
- At least EUR 450,000 investment in the capital city Podgorica or in the Adriatic Sea coastline (South of the country), or
- At least EUR 250,000 investment in the less developed center and North of the country.
Investors enrolling in the program must keep the investment for at least five years. They also have to confirm the legal source funds designed to invest in Montenegro.
Investment and donations are made only after the citizenship is approved. The information about new citizens is not disclosed.
The program implies an application processing fee of EUR 15,000 for the main applicant and EUR 10,000 for family members included in the application. If the family size exceeds 4 persons, then this fee will increase by EUR 50,000 for the fifth and for each following family member included in the application.
Applicants are also required to cover Due Diligence costs, which stand at EUR 7,000 for the main applicant and at EUR 10,000 for the family of four (the main applicant included). For each additional dependent above the age of 16 this fee equals to EUR 1,500
Remarkably, foreigners can not apply for the program directly; instead, they have to do it through an authorized agent. Hence, applicants have to cover some professional fees as well.
A foreign investor can include a spouse, children below 18 years old (or dependent children over 18), and dependent parents in the citizenship application. The processing time is around three months, after which successful applicants are granted citizenship and Montenegrin passports issued to them and their family members.
It is the discretion of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Public Administration to grant Montenegro citizenship under the program.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old, a non-EU national, and with a clean criminal record can apply for Montenegro’s citizenship by investment program. All applicants are subject to stringent vetting and due diligence checks to guarantee that people of only high repute can become Montenegrin nationals.
The whole application process is very simple and straightforward and applicants do not have to pass any interview or language tests and they are not required to have any special education or managerial experience.
Benefits of Montenegrin Citizenship
Obtaining a second passport through Montenegrin citizenship by investment program is very beneficial. Montenegro’s passport allows its holder to access visa-free more than 124 destinations word-wide, including the European Schengen Area, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, the UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, and many other regional financial and economic hubs.
One of the distinguishing features of Montenegrin citizenship is the possibility to obtain an E-2 Investor visa in the United States, as Montenegro has an appropriate treaty with the USA.
There are no residency requirements in Montenegro prior to or after citizenship is granted. Citizenship gives the right to live and work in the country – in a safe environment. It can be a secure place for the whole family to reside in case of turmoil in their homelands.
Montenegro has a very flexible and favorable tax regime and business-friendly legal system. There are no restrictions on the repatriation of profits and imported capital. Since 2002 the country has unilaterally adopted the Euro as its de facto domestic currency, giving its financial system solidity and insurance from external shocks.
Dual citizenship is allowed. Therefore, there is no necessity to relinquish original nationality. Citizenship obtained through the program can be passed on to future generations by descent.