By Vladan Simonovic
Partner and FDI adviser in MEDIA LTD – Podgorica
The Government of Montenegro launched CITIZENSHIP by INVESTMENT PROGRAM (CIP) in January 2019. By this Program, Montenegro wants to attract investments in its economy, approving full and legal citizenships to 2,000 families, with no restrictions related with their country of origin.
Montenegro, as a one of 5 fastest growing tourist destinations in the world, with the cheapest property prices in Europe, but the first next new member of EU and Schengen area, as well, offers a various advantages through this rare one time limited opportunity for citizenship. Lifetime citizenship for the family and generations, within three months approval process, no psychical residence requirements, no language tests, no business experience, no military service required, but free movement within EU countries and Schengen area, are just some of them, but very important for everyone who wants to acquire another and respectable citizenship.
MEDIA LTD – Podgorica is official partner of ARTON CAPITAL, one of the leading global citizenship advisory services which has been appointed by the Government of Montenegro as the licensed international intermediary agent. ARTON CAPITAL is authorized to collect applicants paperwork, assist them in application process and represent the applicants before the Government
Generally, there are four major fields where investments can be done: touristic facilities, agriculture, wood processing and fisheries, but only in the projects specially approved by the Government. Currently, the most attractive investment opportunity is apartments purchasing in “condo” hotel resorts, which allows to the applicant rents bought apartment to the hotel management company with commission form rent for period of time when it won’t be occupied by the applicant or his family. On this way, the rented apartment can make annual yield by rate of 3-5% of the purchasing price.
So far, the Government has approved 6 investment project in touristic facilities (5 on north and one at the sea side. Currently. there are 5 more projects, submitted to the Government, waiting to be officially approved.
In order to acquire Montenegrin citizenship, the applicant need to fulfil certain preliminary conditions such as: he/she has not been sentenced in Montenegro or another state by a final and binding court decision to an unconditional prison sentence of more than one year for a criminal offense prosecuted ex officio or the legal consequences of the conviction for such criminal offence have ceased. Also, the international due diligence (DD) agent should give a positive opinion, including proof of the origin of the money intended for payment and investment in accordance with the regulations.
Finally, there are financial requirements which need to be fulfilled. The applicant can choose between investment in northern (mountain) part of Montenegro, with minimal investment of 250,000 EUR or south (sea side) part, with minimal investment of 450,000 EUR. Beside this, there is donation to the Government in amount of 100,000 EUR for the development of rural areas of Montenegro. The applicant also must deposit administrative fee in amount of 15,000 EUR for himself, 10,000 EUR for each of up to 4 family members, and 50,000 euros for each next family member. Finally there is fee for the Intermediary Agent in amount of 25,000 EUR for the applicant + 5,000 EUR for each family member.
The procedure is pretty simple and fast: the Applicant sends passport(s) copy, CV and KYC forms to an Intermediary agent who, performs internal DD-check and gives approval to proceed. This phase is free of charge. Then, the Applicant signs the Client Facilitator Agreement with the Agent, books the project and signs the Preliminary Agreement, then make all above noted costs payments. Investment fund (250,000 EUR or 450,000 EUR) and donation to the Government (100,000 EUR) will be temporarily deposited on the escrow accounts, at a local bank. These amounts will be paid back, if the application won’t be approved and citizenship won’t be granted. The application file is deposited then to the Government and licensed DD Agent performs regular DD check (7,000 EUR fee for himself or 10, 000 EUR fee if apply with the family);
After all, the applicant gets letter of preapproval and makes the final investment transferring funds from the escrow account onto Project investor account. Finally, the applicant arrives to MNE for the purpose of providing biometric details to the Police. Applicant is approved for citizenship and receives the passport within 24h.
After the Government approved the first investment project at the end of the last year, the first results have been appeared. In the first months of 2020, more than 30 applications are registered and first 6 families have already got the passports. Due to global COVID-19 crises, lockdowns, canceled flights and closed borders since March 15, the project is temporary slowdown, but there is lot of preliminary interest from all over the world, mainly from Turkey, Arabic countries, China, etc…. The Project should formally be open up to end of this year, but it is pretty sure this term will be extended.