With so much uncertainty in the world right now, many people are re-evaluating their futures and looking to new horizons for passports that hold power. Debbie Hathway looks at prospects in Portugal, Mauritius, Montenegro and Australia.
Top of the passport list
For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top spot on the Henley Passport Index, which ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. Singapore is second, followed by South Korea and Germany.
Dr Christian H. Kälin, chairman of global residence and citizenship planning firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the latest ranking provides a fascinating insight into a rapidly changing world. ‘Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life. The latest rankings show that countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it.’
Countries with citizenship-by-investment programmes continue to consolidate their positions on the index. Malta sits in ninth place, while Montenegro is 46th. In the Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda secure 27th and 30th spot, respectively.
Unlike the Portugal and Greece programmes, for which only residence options are available, the Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Program offers full citizenship from just €350 000. This makes it the fifth country in Europe to offer full citizenship for investors, after Austria, Cyprus, Malta and Moldova. The lower price point is due to Montenegro not being a full member of the EU, although this could change by 2025. Montenegro is located on the Balkan peninsula in southeast Europe, and shares a sea border with Italy. Its geography embraces shimmering lakes and pristine beaches.
‘Acquiring real-estate-linked citizenship or residence is an incredibly safe and sensible investment. Investment migration programmes have an inbuilt volatility hedge, in that there is a wider value equation that is separate to the standard real estate metrics – everything that comes with enhanced mobility,’ says Amanda Smit, managing partner and head of South, East and Central Africa for Henley & Partners.
Portugal gets kudos for environment, climate, healthcare, safety and stability, low cost of living and
the fact that English is widely spoken. Good news for South Africans is that citizenship in Europe is now a reality for those investing in Portugal’s Golden Visa programme, which offers residency via investment in property. ‘Its first Portugal citizenship has just been issued, with many more due to be granted in coming months,’ says
Chris Immelman, who heads up Pam Golding International.
Residency enables applicants to live, work and study in Portugal – with travel rights in Schengen countries, while citizenship allows you and your immediate family to live, work and study in any of the EU countries. ‘Initially the Golden Visa legislation provided for five years’ residency, after which you could apply for permanent residency, and one year later apply for citizenship. However, this has recently been amended, allowing applicants to skip the permanent residency step and apply for citizenship immediately after fulfilling the first five years of residency requirements,’ says Immelman.
Pam Golding International continues to see strong interest and rising uptake in Portugal – specifically Lisbon and Porto. ‘While originally the requirement was for a €500 000 investment, it is now possible to enter the Golden Visa programme with an entry-level investment of €350 000, which makes it more accessible to South Africans. Portugal has relatively low tax rates of about 20 percent and no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on overseas pensions,’ says Immelman.
Pam Golding International’s first apartment development in Portugal, Santa Catarina Place, qualifies for the €350 000 Golden Visa category. Located in the heart of downtown Porto, considered Portugal’s happiest city, it consists of 33 classic-modern apartments ranging from studios to two bedrooms with mezzanines and high ceilings. They have sophisticated, comfortable interiors, with living room floor-to-ceiling windows bathing the space with natural light. Parking and storage facilities are also available.
‘This is an apartment you can own and use as you like, with a 4% rental guarantee for three years should you prefer to rent it out,’ says Immelman. ‘Priced from €374 000, which includes a promotional discount, investors have full ownership of their units.’ Occupancy is scheduled for Q4 in 2021.
Thinking of moving your business and family to foreign shores, yet not too far from SA? Then Mauritius is the answer. Mauritius is 32nd on the Henley Passport Index. In addition, the island has jumped seven places to rank 13th of 190 countries in the World Bank’s latest ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report. As a result, Mauritius holds top spot in Africa and ranks second among middle- income economies, behind Malaysia.
In Mauritius you can invest in prime property from US$160 000 or secure permanent residency for you and your immediate family with an investment of US$375 000 or more. The island appeals to South Africans looking for a second home for many reasons, some of which are the stable government, steady economic growth, international schools, expanding expat community and English being one of the official languages.
‘Mauritius has proven to be a very strong offshore investment for South Africans who invested here five to 10 years ago,’ says Richard Haller, director, Pam Golding Properties (Mauritius). ‘For example, since the launch of Mont Choisy Le Parc Golf & Beach Estate in the north of the island, some villa owners have seen up to 60% growth at resale, while on average in Grand Baie we have seen 7% per annum capital growth over the past five years.The island is fast paced in its overall growth and offers sound infrastructure – plus it is a short plane ride from South Africa.’
When it comes to places to call home on this paradise island, the One&Only Le Saint Géran resort is in a league of its own. One&Only chose this special location on the east coast of Mauritius to launch the first of its Private Homes collection. The offering makes sought-after freehold beachfront residences available to foreign buyers. An investment here qualifies them and their immediate families for permanent residency. Residents will enjoy access to all experiences available at the resort as well as private chefs for special occasions, personal trainers, spa therapists, babysitters and an exclusive 5 000m² Beach Club, among others.
The One&Only Private Homes, which will be fully maintained and serviced by the resort, comprise 52
villas set on two kilometres of pristine beach. Available in five different designs, with two to six
bedrooms, these homes range from 280m² to 758m² over two floors. They flow onto private terraces that lead to secluded gardens and large swimming pools.
Anahita Mauritius is another legendary development in Mauritius, also on the east coast. What’s not
to love about the village atmosphere incorporating two five-star resorts (Anahita Golf & Spa Resort
and Four Seasons Resort) and boasting shops, restaurants and a bar, access to two championship
golf courses (Anahita Golf Club and Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club), a golf academy, an exclusive beach for
Anahita residents at nearby Ile aux Cerfs, a spa, and a children’s and teens’ club. The list goes on.
It’s ideally situated close to top attractions such as La Vallée de Ferney and Domaine de l’Etoile,
where you can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities while you admire the local flora and fauna.
Anahita’s magnificent residential component exists in well-established, beautifully maintainegrounds and proposes a range of existing homes or customisable villa concepts. Homeowners benefit from a range of advantages connected to their investment, including residency permits. Two- to three-bedroom L’Adamante Apartments have splendid views over the turquoise lagoon or the golf course while Amalthea Residences, in the centre of the estate, offer a choice of contemporary, semi-detached homes ideal for families. Property management services are available to those who wish to rent them out. Emeraude Villas is the latest development to be launched at Anahita, set on stunning plots along the golf course. Certain features may be personalised to fit your dream lifestyle.
Australia’s Business Talent Programme
The Australia Business Talent Visa (132A Visa) is the fastest route to Australian residence and can be
obtained in less than a month once conditions are met. While the Australian government offers a
suite of investment opportunities that appeal to various types of investors, the 132A Visa is designed
for those with a proven, successful business history who seek to maintain a hands-on role while
conducting business in the country.
Henley & Partners has partnered with the property development company, Infinity 8, to make it
even easier for investors to participate in the Business Talent Programme. To qualify for the 132A
Visa, applicants must be under 55 years of age and own or part-own an existing business (with at
least a 30% stake). The business must be able to demonstrate turnover of at least AUD 3 million for
two of the last four financial years. Finally, applicants must have at least AUD 1.5 million in
transferrable assets, of which at least AUD 400 000 must be business assets.
Which are the strongest passports right now?
The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their
holders can access visa-free/visa-on-arrival. The Index is based on data from the International Air
1 Japan – 191 destinations
2 Singapore – 190 destinations
3 Germany and South Korea – 189 destinations
4 Italy and Finland – 188 destinations
7 Portugal and Switzerland – 185 destinations
8 UK and US – 184 destinations
9 Australia – 183 destinations
29 Seychelles – 151 destinations
32 Mauritius – 146 destinations
46 Montenegro – 124 destinations
[The Debrief: Passport Power]