What Are the Main Benefits of the Montenegro Passport
In this time, when countries curtail individual freedoms coming up with new taxes and regulations almost on a daily basis, use crises such as the coronavirus pandemic to advance their statist policies, and with a global recession looming ahead, having a second passport is virtually a necessity for high-net-worth individuals.
Some citizenship by investment programs are well-known around the world, such as Saint Kitts and Nevis, which was the oldest, and the Malta and Cyprus, which are two of the most successful programs, as they are both EU members.
But today, we want to talk to you about one of the newest citizenship by investment programs: Montenegro.
You’ve probably haven’t heard much about this tiny Balkan country, but what if we told you its program has better potential tax optimization benefits than Cyprus and requires a smaller investment than both Cyprus and Malta?
Montenegro is also poised to join the EU around 2025, which means the passport will potentially allow you to freely travel and invest across the EU.
Montenegro is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
Have we got your attention? Let’s begin.
A former part of Yugoslavia, when it broke down, it initially formed a decentralized state with Serbia. In 2006, it gained its independence through a referendum and became a NATO member in 2017. The country has been in negotiations to join the European Union since 2012, and it’s poised to do so in 2025 finally.
The government tried to establish two failed citizenship by investment programs in 2010 and 2014 that sparked plenty of criticism around the world, as the due diligence was not strict enough, and many alleged criminals and corrupt politicians and businesspeople tried to acquire the nationality.
However, in 2018, the government successfully instituted the program with more robust credential checking, which started in 2019, with the first applicants submitting their applications in October. The first individuals to receive the Montenegrin citizenship by investment were an Egyptian family in February 2020.
The program is aimed to have a three-year duration and to provide 2000 passports for investors.
That means there’s no time to be lost if you want to protect your legacy, optimize your taxes, and get a potential EU passport.
So, before entering the requirements, the capital, and the details, let’s walk you through the main benefits of the program.
You are also welcome to visit our Montenegro Country Focus in order to find detailed info about the country’s business opportunities.
Why should investors apply to the Montenegro program?
Montenegro program offers a great safe-pass for many troubled countries. The Montenegro program allows citizens from many countries to access a dual citizenship at a low cost. Thus, they can not only benefit from the freedom of movement that a second passports provides, but also from great tax advantages, business opportunities and the chance to become an EU citizen in a near future. All of this at a lower cost than other European countries like Malta or Cyprus.
A strong passport with full EU access:
Montenegro is considered the 42nd best passport in the world, providing visa-free travel to more than 120 countries. That means the Montenegro passport is stronger than the Russian, Chinese, and many Latin American passports. Likewise, it allows visa-free travel across the European Union and, potentially from 2025, will allow you to move and invest freely across the Union.
A beautiful, free of socialism country:
Montenegro is known for its natural beauty and its calm ambiance, perfect for resting. It has a growing expat community filled with investors and high net worth individuals. It has natural and architectonical beauties comparable to those of Greece, without the statism, looming socialism, poverty, and the refugee crisis. The country has some of the most beautiful sights in the Mediterranean, a mild climate, and a low cost of living for European standards.
A free-to-grow economy:
The economy still has to take some steps to be considered entirely free, but it has made some serious reforms. The country is regarded as the 91st freest economy in the world, according to the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, which is modest but has grown considerably and continuously in the last few years. Likewise, the country has a sustained GDP growth, robust trade, business, labor, and monetary freedom, and tax burden ratings in the index, and significant growths in government integrity, property rights, and fiscal health.
Amazing investment return possibilities:
Montenegro has recently seen a growth of FDI, which has been reflected in the real estate market. That means that the property you acquire as part of your investment offers a return of around 4 and 8 %, one of the highest around Europe. Even better: Real estate capital gains are taxed at a minuscule 9 %, which is significantly lower than most European countries.
In fact, the Montenegrin program is one of the few that allows you to reap benefits from your investment almost immediately. The acquired property can be immediately rented to tourists, meaning you’ll obtain passive income and lower the net cost of the application in the five years you must hold the property.
Compare that to, for example, the Cypriot residency program, where you must keep a €500k residential property of a total €2m investment that you cannot sell or rent, and you’ll see the benefits.
Few requirements, swift process, and it includes the family:
Both the spouse and financially dependent children without age restrictions can acquire the nationality with the main applicant. Likewise, the program has little requirements: you don’t have to live in the country before or after the application, and most of the process can be conducted without you being physically present in Montenegro. You only have to go to the country for a biometric scan and to receive your passport. There are no language tests, and you don’t need to renounce to your primary citizenship.
Last but not least, the process is swift. It can result in you getting your Montenegrin passport in as little as three months.
Malta’s cost with Cyprus’ tax optimization:
The main benefit of Malta’s citizenship by investment is its cost, as it’s way less than the €2m of the Cyprus program. The main advantages of the Cyprus program are tax optimization and investment possibilities. What if we told you that Montenegro offers both? It costs around €250k and €450k depending on the chosen investment and offers strong investment returns and plenty of other investment possibilities in tourism and infrastructure.
Now, after walking you through the main benefits of Montenegrin citizenship by investment program, we can start discussing the requirements to acquire a Montenegro passport.
The program requires you to make a particular set of economic contributions to Montenegro’s society by two means: 1) an investment in a real estate project and 2) funding development and infrastructure in impoverished areas.
The law establishes that the real estate projects must be five-star mixed or hotel complexes in the Southern coastal part of the country or its capital, Podgorica, or a four-star mixed or hotel complexes in the northern part of the country. In both cases, the investment must be into government-approved developments. Why? Because it is a way to ensure that all projects are actually finished and are rentable and viable.
Thus, there are two investment options:
-Donation: €100k. Investment into government-approved real-estate projects in the northern region of the country: €250k
-Donation: €100k. Investment into government-approved real-estate developments in the southern region or the capital: €450k
You can rent out your property, meaning you can obtain passive income from it. That means that the total net worth of your investment is even lower. Likewise, as you can sell the property after five years, and the real estate market is growing, you’ll get an incredible investment return.
So far, there are only four government-approved
projects where applicants can invest. Our friends at Discus Holdings have
access to one of them, which has an amazing investment return potential.
We’re talking about The Westin, a ski resort located in Kolašin, which is the top winter touristic destination in Montenegro.
Kolašin is surrounded by the bestowing slopes of the Bjelasica mountain, the Biogradska gora national park, of which the river Tara runs across to offer breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime views. Kolašin is a place of almost virgin nature with 17 km of ski tracks already built and 18 km in developments. It has all the potential to become a top skiing destination.
A highway is soon to be completed, which will allow access to Kolašin from Podgorica in a mere 30 minutes. The hotel has a premium location, only few meters away from the best ski slopes in the Balkans. It’s the Alps without the fuzz and the never-ending lines of tourists everywhere.
The project has 93 bedrooms of which 52 are suites. It includes parking, three (buffet, outdoors, national food) restaurants, a ski-view bar, beauty salon, meeting room, a ski rental room, and much more.
In fact, The Westin is just the first phase of a larger project that includes 2,000 beds distributed between five hotels, eight apartment buildings, and 45 private chalets. It’s expected to have a capacity for 30,000 skiers.
As it’s in the north part of the country, the investment would be of a minimum €250k. Montenegro is seeking to sell itself as a top touristic destination, and it certainly has it all. With the expected success of its CBI program, tourism FDI will see a boom. Losing this opportunity isn’t a possibility.
If you decide to apply for the CBI program, our friends at Discus Holdings will walk you through the details of the project, its financial aspects, and the expected investment returns (hint: they are astonishing).
Also, the program includes some significant fees that must be considered. They are the same for both options:
If the investor applies alone: €15k
If the investor applies with his or her spouse: €15k the main applicant + €10k for the spouse
If the investor applies with his or her spouse, and/or up to three dependents: €15k the main applicant + €10k for the spouse and €10k per dependent
If the investor applies with his or her spouse, and/or more than three dependents: €15k the main applicant + €10k for the spouse + €10k per the first three dependents + €50k per additional dependent
The application process
So, how does the application process look, and what documents do you need, and what steps you must follow? The process looks somewhat like this:
1) Initial consultation with our experts: Firstly, your status must be reviewed. Our experts will check if you are eligible for the program, and if you have all the necessary documentation in hand, which is a preliminary step for the process. The primary documents that you’ll need are:
· Application form for citizenship
· Notarized passport copy
· Original birth certificate
· Original marriage certificate (if applicable)
· A health insurance policy that is valid in Montenegro
· A medical report that shows you’re free from infectious diseases
· A statement showing the legitimate origin of funds for your investments and fees in Mon-tenegro
2) Payment of government and professional fees: After the due diligence is done, you can pay the above-mentioned government fees and the professional fees of our experts to walk you through the rest of the process.
3) Review and choose a real estate project: Our experts will provide you with a list of potential pro-jects, so you select the ones that fit you the best and where you see the most potential. After selecting one, you must sign the investment documents.
4) Payment of the investment and government contribution: In this step, you’ll pay the government contribution (€100k) and real estate investment (€250k or €450k) in full.
5) Submitting the documents: In this step, our experts will submit to the authorities all the documents. That includes the proof of payment of the contributions to the government and the real estate investment.
6) Getting a favorable decision on your application: This is the longest step as the authorities take around three to six months to review your application. When they accept it, you get a certificate of naturalization.
7) Taking biometric data and receiving your Montenegrin passport: This is the only step that requires your physical presence in Montenegro, as you must be present to give your biometric data and obtain your passport.
Even as it is the new kid on the block of citizenship by investment, the Montenegro program has an incredible potential for legitimate high net worth individuals. Montenegro is a country with untapped economic potential, a soon-to-come EU membership, fantastic tax optimization opportunities. It offers an amazing opportunity as its passport program comes with a high investment return in a growing economy.
It doesn’t seem that Montenegro will be Europe’s best-kept secret for long.
Who we are
In Mundo, we want to help you protect your legacy, your investments, and your family. Since 1994 we’ve been helping high net worth individuals obtain second passports to protect their investments, their families, and do business with more freedom.
In these 25 years, we’ve built an unparalleled network of experts to provide first-level services with an unmatched degree of expertise for our clients. That’s why we work with Discus Holdings, which is, by far, the best CBI services provider in Montenegro, with presence in dozens of countries.
In fact, Discus Holdings is one of the only three government-approved agencies to assist applicants for Montenegro’s CBI program
Our friends at Discus Holdings have more than 25 years of experience in second passsports and residencies. This excellent team offers complete transparecy, meaning you won´t have to face unpleasent surprises like hidden fees that you didn´t expect. For Mundo and for all our experts, trust is the most important thing and is the basement on which we build every relationship.
Our experts will also offer support during the process and after the residency or citizenship has been approved. Discus Holdings and Mundo also provide valuable tax and financial advice so that the applicant can take care of his business and assets during the process of acquiring citizenship.
FAQ – INTERVIEW WITH LASZLO KISS, DISCUS’ HOLDINGS MANAGING DIRECTOR
The Montenegro CBI program is the latest one to join the group. Will it be successful?
The Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program will become successful very quickly. The legislators took their time to create the rules, which satisfied the leadership of the European Union and brings the most profit for the country, attracting wealthy foreigners to give a boost to the economy.
What advantages can the program offer for investors?
Montenegro is joining the European Union soon. Still, the cost to obtain citizenship is more affordable compared to the EU passport schemes. Also, Montenegro is one of the best locations for investment in Europe.
According to the Montenegrin Investment Promotion Agency, the essential drives to start business activities in Montenegro are the followings:
· Dynamic economic growth and development
· Multi-ethnic harmony and political stability
· Strategic geographic position, with exit to the sea
· Qualified human resources
· Favorable tax climate (corporate tax 9%)
· Pro-business Government
· Treatment of foreign and domestic investors on the same basis
· Hub for regional business
· Easy business start-up
· Young population with multilingual talent.
Why choose Montenegro and not Malta or Cyprus, who are already EU members, or one of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands that offer a CBI program?
The cost of the Montenegrin Citizenship by Investment Program can be less than one-fifth of the Maltese Program and less than one-eighth of the Cypriot scheme. Moreover, Cyprus is a Member of the European Union but not a Member state of the Schengen Agreement. Cypriot citizens can travel in the EU with their passport, as the Montenegrin passport holders, there is no difference. Malta, Cyprus, Vanuatu and the Caribbean paradise islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Grenada are all well-known locations for luxury holidays. Meanwhile, Montenegro is an unknown, almost hidden gem. Neighboring Croatia is fully filled with investors, and prices are continually increasing, while in Montenegro, you can reach profit and still enjoy the quality of life, without the hordes of mass tourism.
Does the program have a set number of passports it will provide and a time limit?
The Montenegrin program runs for only three years, offering investment citizenship to 2000 foreign investors, and it will end 31 December 2021.
Does the CBI program offer any particular tax advantages for those who get a positive response?
Montenegro is one of the last low-tax jurisdictions in Europe. The personal income tax is 9-11%, capital gains tax is 9%, and there are no taxes on inheritance and gifts. Moreover, payments from life and property insurances are also tax-exempt. For foreign investors, it is vital to know that the 9% corporate income tax is among the lowest in Europe and the 7-17% VAT is also more than attractive. Non-resident citizens must pay tax only on their locally sourced income.
What other investment opportunities does the country have? What would you say to convince someone to invest in Montenegro?
Montenegro is the last European El Dorado for tourism investment.
The almost mini-state is one of the fastest-growing and dynamic tourist destinations next to the European Union with well over two million arrivals in 2018, an increase of 10.2% on an annual basis.
Does the source of wealth need to be disclosed? What other requirements must be considered?
Yes, the applicants "must prove the lawful origin of the funds used to invest" Moreover, the applicants cannot be subject to individual sanctions or banned from entry to the EU, USA, UK, or Canada. They must submit a clean police certificate and can't have open legal cases against them. Likewise, they must have an impeccable personal and business reputation, as well as credit history, and the investor must be in good health.
What are the investment possibilities to apply to the program? Are there any additional contributions?
The Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program allows the applicants to invest in real estate. There are two options:
· Purchase real estate in the northern part of the country for €250,000
· Purchase real estate in the southern part of Montenegro or the capital city of Podgorica for 450,000 EUR
Under both options, the investor must also contribute to the state 100,000 EUR.
Can I invest in any project I like or only in government-approved projects?
The program includes only real estate investments qualified and approved by the government.
How many projects has the Montenegrin government approved so far? Do you provide guidance on this part of the process? Do you have direct access to any of them?
We are among the only three official agents of the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program. Naturally, it means that we can offer the lowest price, the best and fastest information, and we can guide our client to visit all investment projects to be able to make the right decision. You don't have to cut through a long chain of agents to arrive at the source.
Now, the following real estate projects are approved by the government, but more and more projects are qualifying for the strict guidelines of the regulations.
· Condo Hotel," Kolasin Resort & Spa", Kolasin
· Condo Hotel," Breza", Kolasin
· Hotel," Kraljicina plaza", Milocer – Budva
· Hotel," Durmitor Hotel & Villas", Zabljak
What is the mandatory investment term? Can the real estate be rented out during that term or only after it?
Each development is different, so you should ask for the detailed information of every case. Legally the purchased property can be rented out.
What are the main fees that must be paid to apply and to get the passport?
Government Due diligence fees:
Primary applicant: €7,000
Dependent (up to 4): €10,000
Dependent (after the 4.): €1,500
There is also a €15,000 government application fee for the primary applicant plus €10,000 for each family member plus €50,000 after the fourth family member.
Which dependents can be included in the application?
· Primary investor
· His or her spouse
· Dependent children without age restriction
· Citizenship is also guaranteed for the next generations.
Could you walk us through the process? Does the applicant need to live in Montenegro during the process? When does he have to be physically present?
The applicants do not have to live in Montenegro, but they must be personally present during the process to take their biometric data – but it is only at the end of the whole procedure.
The process is straightforward:
· Signing the agreement and making a preliminary due diligence check
· Payment of professional and legal fees
· Document collection
· Payment of government fees
· Investment project selection and signing the investment documentation
· Payment of investment and contribution into an escrow account
· Submission of the necessary documents and application for citizenship
· Getting the affirmative decision and the certificate of naturalization
· Taking of biometric data in Montenegro
· Receiving the passport
How much time does the process take?
Answer: Montenegro offers the fastest European passport through an investment scheme; the process takes approximately three months only.
Is Discus Holdings a government-licensed service provider in Montenegro?
Naturally, Discus Holdings was among the first immigration and investment consultancies to obtain a license from the government.
What do you offer over other providers in Montenegro? Why should a client choose Discus Holdings?
Most of our competitors entered the citizenship and residency by investment sector only a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, our colleagues have more than 25 years of experience. Even before the trend of obtaining second citizenship started, we have already been one of the leading European company forming and tax planning service providers in Central Europe. We have the contacts, and we are official agents of the programs. We take the success of your application personally. Ask for a free consultation to check the quality of our service.
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