Caribbean vs EU Citizenship: What are the Key Differences?

Cupeoy Beach Saint Martin
Cupeoy Beach. Credit: Marko Radisavljevic

Some countries allow people to acquire residence or citizenship permits for investing money in their economy. The island and European countries are intriguing destinations among wealthy investors. The reason for their popularity is apparent – who does not want to get a strong passport that opens up great opportunities? Let’s compare Caribbean citizenship programs with European ones and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

Overview of Caribbean Citizenship Programs

Wealthy newcomers who plan to invest in apartments, hotel construction, etc. are welcome in the Caribbean. Acquiring citizenship in the local jurisdiction here is simple and quick. Just 30-270 calendar days and the coveted document will be in your hands. There is often no mandatory personal presence, which is extremely important for businesspeople. 

The states of the region offer a paradisiacal life. Sea, sun, pleasant weather, what could be better? Some of the countries where you can get Caribbean citizenship for a financial investment include: 

  • Grenada;
  • Dominica;
  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • St. Lucia;
  • St. Kitts and Nevis.

Their residents can freely visit the EU for various purposes without drawing up additional papers. The maximum period of stay is three months.

Overview of European Union Ways to the Citizenship

Europe, Malta, and Greece offer a program granting residence permits for making investments. And Portugal allows you to obtain a temporary residence permit with subsequent authorization for a long-term stay on the country’s territory. As noted by an Imin Caribbean Acyr Jardim expert, once the application is approved, the applicant does not obtain a passport but a corresponding card for residence. It’s one of the main differences between the Caribbean and European citizenship legislation.

These EU citizenship programs are relevant for citizens of states not part of the European Union. The European residency program allows you to travel without borders within the Schengen countries.

Investments in real estate in Portugal or Malta are also a guarantee of the safety of funds and an excellent way to multiply them. After the period established by law, the real estate object can be sold. In Portugal, residence permit holders can count on citizenship after 60 months of residence. In this case, staying on the country’s territory for at least seven days per calendar year is obligatory. 

Investment Options and Possible Costs

The minimum investment threshold is a critical factor in determining the attractiveness of the immigration program. It can be noted that European residency will cost more. For example, in the case of Portugal, it is required to invest at least 250 thousand euros. You are allowed to withdraw the funds after a minimum of 6 years. Some investments even bring some income.

Regarding Caribbean citizenship, the lower investment limit is 100-150 thousand, depending on the state. Investing approximately the same amount in one of the state funds is also necessary. Such a contribution is considered irrevocable. The state uses this money to develop infrastructure and improve medicine, so such a contribution can be safely considered charity. 

If we summarize the results of this point, a Caribbean passport will cost less in total, but in terms of investment return, European residency looks more attractive.

The countries of the European region are generally more interesting in terms of business opportunities. Many companies, including construction companies, have offices and implement major projects in Malta, Portugal, and Greece.

Caribbean countries are more oriented to the hotel business. They are also much more loyal to residents in terms of taxes. If the applicant has substantial income, this point can be critical when choosing a place to obtain residency.

Visa-Free Travel and Global Mobility

Both regions under consideration allow residents to visit different countries without paperwork and visa applications. The most attractive among the countries of the European continent in terms of movement is Malta. Its passport gives access to 187 countries without additional permits. St. Kitts and Nevis is in the top in the Caribbean, with 157 countries. 


In addition to the minimum investment amounts and the strength of the documents in terms of travel, the final choice will still depend on your wishes and further plans for life. How much time is there for paperwork? What area of business is more interesting for investment? Are you planning a full-fledged move, or do you just want to get another passport? Will residency apply to family and immediate and distant relatives? It is better to consider these questions, of course, together with a professional specialist who understands migration legislation and will be able to recommend the best possible option.

Also, the comparison shows that the Caribbean islands and the European continent differ regarding lifestyle and culture. People from these regions have different views on some aspects of life, as well as the level of financial wealth of their citizens. Europe has a much more developed infrastructure, while the Caribbean offers living in a tropical paradise. The regions also differ regarding security, openness to doing business, and economic stability. However, in both cases, investment programs allow wealthy people to maximize the passport’s potential. 

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