A large house with a pool and deck

Benefits of an American Becoming a St Lucian Citizen

With regard to American clients, there are several benefits to becoming a St. Lucian citizen. These benefits will depend on the client’s intended reason for second citizenship and general life goals, such as:

  1. The American's desire to invest in St. Lucia, i.e., through the purchase of real estate;
  2. Whether or not there is an intention to relocate; and
  3. Whether or not the American intends to eventually renounce American citizenship.

The general benefits of St. Lucia’s citizenship for
Americans can be summarized as follows:

1) Insurance Citizenship: Due to the pandemic, several Americans have realized that there is a need for “insurance citizenship” and have begun treating a passport portfolio similarly to a wealth portfolio. At the height of the pandemic, American passport holders faced several travel bans, and the American passport’s travel power was substantially lower than that of St. Lucia and as bad as several lesser-known African countries and post-soviet countries like Moldova. For example, the European Union banned travel to the region by Americans on July 1st, 2020, for several months. American citizens, therefore, felt trapped and with limited options. Whilst the pandemic is not the ordinary course, several High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth American citizens decided to obtain second citizenship as insurance for future events that would negatively impact them as American citizens. The political tension associated with the recent US Elections, increasing tension with China-US relations, and the general reputation damage the USA has faced in recent times has also caused HNWIs to desire citizenship in a more politically neutral country like St. Lucia. Second, Citizenship, whilst ordinarily a luxury, provides much-needed protection to American citizens should circumstances arise where being a citizen of a country other than the USA becomes a necessity due to socio-political conditions or those similar to the pandemic.

2) Investment in St. Lucia & the Caribbean: St. Lucian citizenship affords the holder the opportunity to purchase property in St. Lucia without the need for a Certificate of Eligibility and subsequent Alien Landholding License. This license is generally expensive to obtain and requires an attorney. Licenses to purchase property are required by all “aliens” (foreign nationals generally). As you may know, foreigners first require a Certificate of Eligibility to purchase land and then an Alien Landholding License for each parcel of land being purchased. This can therefore be a very cumbersome and expensive process that is time-consuming in nature. For example, a property on three parcels of land will require the purchaser to obtain three licenses. License holders may also be forced to forfeit their property should the conditions attach to the holding of the license. St. Lucian citizens (regardless of their country of birth and other nationalities) may purchase property in St. Lucia without the need for a Certificate of Eligibility and Alien Landholding License. St. Lucian citizens are also exempt from the usual need for a landholding license to purchase property in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados. Holding St. Lucian citizenship, therefore, makes the process of investing in St. Lucia and the other islands mentioned less complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. The vendor’s/seller’s tax/stamp duty when selling property is also significantly reduced when selling as a St. Lucian citizen. Whilst tax is charged on a scale, effectively, St. Lucians selling property on the island must pay 5% of the purchase price in tax, whilst foreigners are to pay 10%. There is, therefore, a substantial financial benefit to citizenship should one be interested in actively buying and selling property in St. Lucia as well as the other Caribbean islands which I have mentioned.

3) Taxes: Whilst we are not tax experts and therefore, this should not be treated as formal tax advice as each situation will differ, generally, St. Lucia does not charge capital gains tax, foreign earned income tax, wealth tax, or inheritance tax to natural persons (this differs for companies). Unlike the USA, which taxes on citizenship, St. Lucia taxes on residency. Therefore, only St. Lucian citizens who are legal residents of St. Lucia (generally, an individual will be a resident if they live on the island for at least 183 days in a year) are required to file a tax return in St. Lucia. This differs from the USA, wherein American citizens, regardless of their residency and whether or not they have ever lived or earned income in the USA, must file certain returns every year or face penalties. In recent times, there have also been increased discussions of a wealth tax for Americans wherein people would be taxed a percentile of their net worth. This has caused large amounts of anxiety to wealthy Americans. These tax benefits are, therefore, of particular benefit to American citizens who are desirous of renouncing their current citizenship. Whilst some of these benefits may still be enjoyed in certain situations where American citizenship is retained, we would advise each client to receive advice from a competent US immigration attorney and tax accountant. We work with professionals in the field who are extremely competent in this regard and are happy to make the necessary introductions whose primary aim is the reduction in taxation. American citizens are also required to report their bank accounts overseas, and therefore becoming a St. Lucian whilst also renouncing American citizenship effectively removes this usually tedious process as St. Lucia has no such requirement.

4) Lifestyle: St. Lucia, an extremely popular destination for American citizens, offers a great lifestyle option for Americans wishing to relocate immediately or for retirement purposes later on. St. Lucia offers:

i. two marinas;
ii. two world-class golf courses (soon to be three in 2022);
iii. an international airport with direct flights to the UK, USA & Canada on a nearly daily basis;
iv. reliable telecommunication structures;
v. an environment conducive to foreign direct investment (St. Lucia is ranked 2nd in the Caribbean by the World Bank for ease of doing business (only behind Jamaica);
vi. Amazing real estate investment opportunities for HNWIs;
vii. Spectacular beaches, hotels, restaurants, and natural green spaces;

Just to name a few of the unique lifestyle features of St. Lucia.

For these reasons, several of our clients tend to visit St. Lucia regularly with the intention of owning property and relocating, at least for a period of time, eventually. St. Lucia, for these reasons, benefits from an extremely large expat community of American, European, Canadian, and other persons. St. Lucia is also the world’s leading honeymoon destination and has won several accolades for our tourism products.

5) Travel: This will generally apply to Americans wishing to renounce US Citizenship or who are not desirous of traveling using their US passport due to socio-political reasons. St. Lucia offers visa-free travel to 146 countries, including the Schengen Zone (most of Europe), the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Israel, and a large portion of Central America. St. Lucian citizens may also live without restriction in all OECS Member States (Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, and Dominica). St. Lucian citizens may also apply for visas to the United States, Canada, and other regions without much difficulty.

Due to the above, we have seen a massive influx of American citizens opting for St. Lucian citizenship. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, I would say that about 35% of our clients have been American citizens. Larger global firms have also reported up to 50% of interest being from American citizens.

There have also been a record number of renunciations by American citizens in 2020, which is expected to increase in 2021.