Montenegro citizenship programme could be a route to an EU passport – for a price

By Lucy Ingham

The Government of Montenegro has approved a programme to attract foreign investment to the country in return for Montenegro citizenship. And with the country currently in the process of joining the European Union, this could be an opportunity for British citizens to re-gain an EU passport.

Approved at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, the programme is designed to encourage real estate investment in the country.

In exchange for an investment of at least €350,000, candidates will be rewarded with permanent resident status within three weeks, which will be upgraded to full Montenegro citizenship after just six months of permanent residence.

A former part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro has been an independent nation since 2006, when it separated from Serbia.

According to the World Bank it is one of the fastest growing economies in the Balkans, attracting considerable foreign direct investment. The service sector accounts for almost three-quarters of its GDP, with industry and agriculture making up the rest.

How Montenegro citizenship is a potential pathway to an EU passport

Holders of a Montenegro passport can currently travel visa-free in 117 countries, making it the 37th best passport in the world, according to The Passport Index.

However, Montenegro is currently in the process of accession to the European Union, a process that began in 2007.

As of 2016, the country was considered the best prepared among would-be members of the EU, and it is thought the process will be completed by 2025. Assuming this goes through as intended, each Montenegro citizen will then hold an EU passport.

The Montenegro citizenship programme

The citizenship programme is designed to build on Montenegro’s already impressive levels of foreign direct investment as it seeks to sure-up its economy ahead of its entry into the EU.

It will run over three years, during which the country hopes to attract a maximum of 2,000 new citizens.

The investment will see €100,000 go to the government as a donation, while €250,000 is for approved real estate in the country’s less-developed north. If applicants wish to invest in the developed southern region of the country, they will need to invest a minimum of €450,000.

The investments will need to be in programmes that further Montenegro’s economic goals – mainly in tourism, agriculture or processing.

There are also additional government taxes of €15,000 per candidate, although up to four family members can also be included in the application for €10,000 each, with any further family members costing an additional €50,000.

Applicants will also be subject to what the government calls a “scrupulous international evaluation”, will need to prove the origin of the money they are investing and cannot have a criminal record that resulted in prison time of over a year.

Applications will be accepted from 1 January 2019.

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