Not just a birth certificate…
A little-discussed aspect of the citizenship by investment space is the paperwork required to apply for such a programmes.
The requirements can vary substantially from one programme to another.
I sat down with Laszlo, who has been working in the high-end immigration industry for over 25 years. We discussed criminal records, marriage certificates, medical checks, etc.
If you think you’d ever want to participate in such a programme, this is a good starting point.
Laszlo can help you obtain citizenship and residency in a number of countries
He can help you obtain citizenship in the Caribbean and Malta (details here)
He can also help non-EU people move to Hungary and obtain residency by investment through real estate. It’s a little-known programme in Europe which is great for people who want to enjoy a comfortable life in low cost, low tax, traditional Hungary. More details here.
To a World of Opportunities,
The Wandering Investor
Citizenship by Investment options:
- Be careful when you obtain a second passport in the Caribbean
- The true price of the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program
- Best Deal for the Citizenship by Investment in Turkey
- How to obtain Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.
*a consulting session is a discussion about your portfolio and objectives. It does not constitute legal, financial, tax or investment advice.
Full transcript of “Required paperwork for citizenship by investment programmes”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from thewanderinginvestor.com. So today, I’m with Laszlo. He’s an immigration specialist, so helping people obtain citizenship by investments in the Caribbean, in Vanuatu, and also obtain residencies in some European countries such as Malta, and here in Hungary, so residencies through investments. And today, I want us to discuss a topic that few people ever bring up, which is the paperwork and the documentation which is required to obtain some of these citizenships. Because people think, Oh, you pay money and then, a few months later, you receive a passport in your mailbox. The process is actually a lot more complicated and thorough, which is why you need a good agent to guide you through this process.
So Laszlo, first of all, thank you for your time today.
LASZLO: I’m happy to be here.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And yeah, could you tell us a bit more about one of the services that you offer? And then, two, also, essentially, if I come to you, I say, “I want to get a St. Lucia passport,” for example, what sort of documents will be required of me to apply?
LASZLO: Thank you for the introduction. We have been offering citizenship and residency by investment program participation to our clients for more than 25 years now. And we have met with some interesting questions and interesting requirements from the countries which we are working with. Ordinarily, I think that the most important consideration to understand is that those countries do not want to have criminals, or people with criminal backgrounds to jump into the system and to obtain citizenship. That is, on a long-term basis, a very stupid policy if somebody does that, as the international reputation of the country could suffer a lot.
And that is why there are two sets of documentation which are usually required. It varies from country to country. Europe is usually stricter, especially for European citizenship than the Caribbean ones. Most important difference is whether the country would like to check and how thoroughly the source of the wealth of the client. In the Caribbean, usually they require information about the money which is invested through these programs, either as a donation, or via government bond, or a property purchase, while the European jurisdictions, in a sense, understandably, would like to get as near a picture about the personal wealth of the client and, obviously, where it is coming from, not only the 100,000 or 150,000 which is paid to the Caribbean countries, but rather more what are the higher amounts of money, so that we talk about two separate groups of countries which require documentation.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay, so here we’re talking about citizenship, so notably Malta, which requires a lot of paperwork.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But residency through investment schemes, typically, governments ask for a lot less paperwork.
Police background check for citizenship by investment programme
LASZLO: Yes, usually for residency because citizenship cannot be easily taken away, while residency can be revoked much more easily. Therefore, the requirements are not as strict as full citizenship, understandably. One of the most important documents, I mean, two or three, I can list, one, which is, I think that the most important one is the police, no criminal record certificate, whichever way it is called in that specific country where the client lives.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So because a lot of my clients have lived in many countries, so are they supposed to just show a police background check from their country of residency, their country of citizenship, or all of the countries where they lived? And does it depend on the programs as well?
LASZLO: Usually those requirements– the answer is yes, then it is usually required if the client has, for example, dual citizenship to come the information from both countries. And also if they have been resident in a country different than currently where they are, then going back 5 or 10 years. Not more than 10 years. I do not remember any country who is asking for documentation from a place where you lived 15 or 20 years ago.
LADISLAS MAURICE: The definition of criminal can be interpreted differently. I mean, I know some countries are extremely strict. If you just have the single thing on your criminal background check, you have no chance of applying.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Other countries, if you get something when you’re 18, you did something stupid and you provide an explanation, it can be okay.
LASZLO: Definitely. Let me give you a short example. We had a client who wanted to include his son also in one of the applications. Let me not say anything about the nationality. What I can say is that his son started to argue in one of the best cities in the world where they were studying, started to argue with another guy whose father was also very affluent, whose family has more wealth. They got into a fistfight. The police went, obviously, they arrested them. And he got a conviction of a suspended sentence of a year or so. So at the end, obviously, they laugh that, Okay, fair enough, two stupid guys at the age of 20, after drinking lots of alcohol, they were arguing who is richer and who is not.
But unfortunately, we had to go through each country’s legislation, which would allow somebody with a suspended sentence, with a one-year maximum sentence, or no criminal sentence whatsoever requirement, so that there are some countries which are not available for them. They would have– I think they never thought that this would be a problem later on (laughing).
LADISLAS MAURICE: (laughing) And so then you help these clients explain the situation to the authorities, you know, draft the paperwork, work with the local lawyers, etc., to make sure that it went through.
LASZLO: That’s why our role, we are not tied to one country, but we are offering this service, basically, in every country which has a very clearly legally defined such possibility, as we call program, then yes, we try to find the best solution for that client. And then, depending on many circumstances, like the criminal possible criminal background, I mean, 20 or 30 years ago, you committed something really under the influence, or whatever it is, shouldn’t be a deciding force, but try to explain to those governments. It won’t work. It’s written that no criminal record, then it’s no criminal record. And we are helping the clients to try to find either the country first, and based on that country’s requirements, we provide the list of necessary documents which should be filed with the authorities.
Marriage certificate for citizenship by investment programme
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay, clear. And typically, people also have to show an apostille marriage certificate or a certificate of civil status.
LASZLO: Although it’s a little bit of technicality, whether it’s apostilled or without apostille is another matter, which we also have to see what kind of legal system that country operates where the client is resident or citizen, what kind of document legalization should we require based on the local legislation of the country where he’s currently living. So that’s also a job which we have to do. But otherwise, yes, it’s not just a marriage certificate, the birth certificate, marriage certificate, possibly divorce certificates, or court rulings, and also a so-called document as the certificate of civil status, which proves the current situation, marital situation of the client.
Because a marriage certificate which he could produce about a marriage which happened like a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, doesn’t mean that they are still married. And nearly every country has this kind of civil status certificate. It’s just in the US doesn’t, so it is a question of how we handle it in US. But there are also ways and means of how to do that.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay, clear. And are there medical tests as well to pass?
LASZLO: Usually those countries do not like somebody with communicable diseases to get citizenship for, let’s say, understandable reasons. And therefore, all of them require either a locally produced medical check. The results of the medical check was something which is from their home countries. European residencies usually require a medical check in the country where you apply for the residency. For the Caribbean, obviously, you are not expected to go to Antigua and to have a medical check there just for the sake of producing a medical check certificate, they accept the medical check to come from the place when you live in a certain specified format, of course.
University degrees for citizenship by investment programme
LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay. And does one have to show university degrees, high school certificates?
LASZLO: It varies. It is not always obligatory, because gaining a citizenship is conditional, fulfilling the conditions. And the conditions do not include the fact of university degree, that to give citizenship you must have a university degree. Obviously, that is not the case. But when they are checking the wealth of the person, or what is the source, obviously, if the background documentation includes indication about the university degrees, diplomas, and so on, higher education, different courses, different studies, yes, that helps the application.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So let’s say I want to buy citizenship in St. Kitts, and they asked me for the source of funds. And let’s say, I sold an apartment in the Netherlands and I have a sales contract from the Netherlands. The money was sent to Georgia, to give an example. And then I can show the bank statements showing that the money arrived in Georgia. So would this be good enough? Would they ask for translation, an official translation of the Dutch documents? Do they want these official translations to be apostilled or notarized, same thing with the bank statements? Like how much actual groundwork is there to do?
LASZLO: Sometimes, a lot, especially if the country where the client lives or whose citizenship he has now, that country is not part of the apostille agreement. And then it’s the diplomatic, is the consulates and the embassies have to work with each other. And St. Kitts doesn’t have that many embassies. So that could be a problem. But the Caribbean countries usually if there is no apostille membership for that country, then usually can be flexible, because they understand that to get the paperwork on that highest level is an extremely hard work to get, and would take really like half a year or year. So all in all, they can be flexible in this.
Most important question whether what you put down as a source of funds is believable or not. And then if you sold a flat or a house, and you have the funds for your personal bank account, it is a very straightforward thing. Translation, obviously, would be needed, because then usually these countries operate with English. And if it’s not in English, how could the government bureaucrat decide whether that document is really about that transaction. So yes, translation is required. Whether it should be a certified, an official translation, and so on and so on depends on the country.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And this is why I work with Laszlo because he offers these CBIs for many different countries. And he can help you find the right jurisdiction. Because all too often if you Google, you know, passport, or citizenship, Dominica, you’ll have a whole bunch of agents, and many of them sell only Dominica, or Dominica and one other citizenship. So they will invariably try to sell you that citizenship. But maybe for you, specifically, you’re better off going for another one, not just depending in terms of pricing and how many family members you want to bring in, but also in terms of the documentation that you can provide, because some citizenships will be a lot easier for you to obtain than others just based on the fact that you lived in XYZ country, that you bank in that part of the world, etc.
So and that’s why having someone like Laszlo who’s been in the industry for 25 years, I mean, that’s a lot—
LASZLO: You tell me.
LADISLAS MAURICE: (laughing) is very useful, so that you don’t waste your time and you go for the program that is most appropriate for you.
LASZLO: I think I have to agree with you. Just as an example, the first legalization, super legalization question we did was in 1995 for a Seychelles entity, where Seychelles was not part of the apostille agreement. So we had to go through the Seychelles Supreme Court, the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Seychelles embassy in South Africa, and the country’s embassy in South Africa where the document was used. That was in 1995.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Wow. (laughing)
LASZLO: (laughing) So I learned my lesson. I would say that, yes, we have to be very careful. We have to be very, very specific and punctual in what is being required, what is certified, what is notarized, what is apostilled, what is super legalized. This is where expertise part lies, in addition to the actual knowledge about the different systems of those countries operate. This kind of legal background, I think, is definitely favorable for customers.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Thank you, Laszlo. So if you have any questions related to CBIs, feel free to send Laszlo an email, there’s his contact information below. There’s also a link with more information and an interview with it in the past, and also Laszlo helps a lot of people move to Hungary. So if you buy real estate in Hungary for a minimum amount of approximately 180,000 euros through a local company, then you can get– you can obtain residency for yourself and your family in Hungary. So it’s one of the more affordable and more pleasant ways of living in the European Union in a low tax country, and a beautiful country that few people discuss. There’s also a link below. We did a video on this topic last summer. But Laszlo, thank you very much. Always a pleasure.
LASZLO : Thank you so much.