Caribbean Citizenship vs European Permanent Residence

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | 21 Apr 2022

Caribbean vs European Permanent Residence

There are several countries who offer a path to citizenship or residence through investment. Both Europe and the Caribbean are well sought destinations by high-net-worth individuals who want to obtain citizenship or permanent residency. Each programme has its own set of requirements and benefits, and the ultimate choice the investor has to make depends on one’s investment budget, family composition, aims and objectives.  

In Europe, applicants can apply for residence by investment in: 


In the Caribbean region, applicants can apply for citizenship in: 

Antigua & Barbuda 
Saint Kitts & Nevis 
Saint Lucia 

Caribbean Citizenship vs European Permanent Residence: Travel Document 

One of the most important differences between citizenship in the Caribbean and residency in Europe is the travel document the applicant will receive on approval. When applying for citizenship in one of the five Caribbean countries the applicant receives a passport, thus becoming a citizen of that country. On the other hand, an investor who applies for residence in Europe will receive a residence card on approval and thus becoming a resident of that country.  
The investor must also consider whether his country of origin allows the right of dual nationality. In cases, where the original country of citizenship does not allow dual nationality, it is recommended that the applicant applies for European residence.  

European Permanent Residency 

In Europe, both Greece and Malta offer a permanent residence programme, whilst Portugal offers a temporary residence programme which may later lead to long term residency. These programmes are sometimes also referred to as European Golden Visas. On approval, applicants do not become citizens of a new country, and hence are not given a passport but a residence card. Applying for residence in Europe is ideal for non-European nationals who want a safe environment to live should they want to reside therein. The main benefit of applying for residency in Europe is the fact that applicants can travel within the Schengen Area for 3 months in every 6-month period. 

European residence allows visa-free travel access to the Schengen Area, as well as the right to live only in the country of choice.  

  • Residency in Malta: Right to live in Malta indefinitely and the right to travel within the Schengen Area without a visa.
  • Residency in Greece: Right to live in Greece indefinitely and the right to travel within the Schengen Area without a visa.
  • Residency in Portugal: Right to live in Portugal indefinitely and the right to travel within the Schengen Area without a visa.

These countries offer great investment opportunities in real estate with low or inexistent minimum stay requirements. From the above-mentioned countries, only Portugal requires applicants to live in the country for at least 7 days in a year. Moreover, there are no language tests in order to apply for residence in these countries.  

Apart from offering a safe family environment, Europe also boasts of outstanding medical facilities and high-quality schools and universities.  

Caribbean Citizenship by Investment 

Applying for citizenship in one of the Caribbean islands will grant the applicant a new citizenship and a passport on approval. The Caribbean region is made up of various islands in the Caribbean Sea close to Central America. These countries are known for their tropical landscapes and sandy beaches with tourism being the main source of income. Most applicants do not relocate to the Caribbean islands since these countries are quite seasonal however such programmes have become popular over the years due to granting citizenship within a period of 3-4 months. In most countries in the Caribbean there are two main options to apply for citizenship: paying a non-refundable donation to a Government Fund or invest in a government approved real estate project.

Applying for citizenship in the Caribbean does not give you the right to live in one of the European countries for life, however the above-mentioned countries all give the right to travel to the Schengen Area without a visa and stay there for 3 months in every 6 months. In addition, the investor is granted a passport and hence can benefit from visa-free travel to over 150 countries including the United Kingdom. 

European Residency or Caribbean Citizenship? 

When considering the different benefits, investment options and minimum investment, the final choice depends on the objectives of the applicant. In terms of lifestyle, applicants tend to prefer Europe due to medical and educational facilities, whilst the Caribbean region is more ideal for holidays given the tropical climate.   


 European ResidenceCaribbean Citizenship
Documents issued on ApprovalResidence CardPassport
MobilityRight to reside in Malta / Greece / Portual indefinitely & visa-free travel to the EU 26 Schengen StatesOver 100 visa-free destinations including UK.
Access to SchengenFull Schengen access and mobility. Applicant can reside in other Schengen areas for 3 months in every 6 monthsApplicant can reside in the Schengen area for 3 months in every 6 months
SpeedResidence within 4-8 monthsCitizenship within 3-5 months.

When making this decision, an applicant needs to consider the benefits of each programme and the main requirements of why he is interested in investing. If an applicant wants access to the Schengen Area and visa-free travel, then citizenship in the Caribbean would be the proposed option. For applicants who want their family to reside in a safe European country and having a foothold in Europe, a European residence programme would be suggested.  

One also needs to consider that the benefit of visa-free travel within the Schengen Area offered by the Caribbean islands depends on the agreement between these islands and the European Union. The EU can decide to end visa-waiver agreements to Schengen, similar to what occurred in Vanuatu in 2022.  

An ideal solution can be a combination of both a Caribbean Passport and a European residence so the applicant can have both a foothold in Europe as well as a second nationality offering visa free travel to various countries. Our firm is licenced in both Europe and the Caribbean and can guide and assist applicants in order to choose the most suitable programme.  


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