Riot-weary South Africans are headed for the exit door in record numbers, and Montenegro is one the best options available – though the window of opportunity is closing at the end of the year.
Montenegro, off Europe’s Adriatic coast, offers a citizenship-by-investment programme which is open – until the end of the year – to South Africans seeking dual nationality.
“Those interested in participating in this scheme will have to act within the next few weeks to benefit from the scheme, which offers a host of advantages, including fast-tracked citizenship, a strong economy in a beautiful country, as well as visa-free access to more than 124 countries,” says Andrew Rissik, MD of Sable International’s Investment Migration Business.
Many citizenship-by-investment programmes involve a long process to residency before applicants are able to apply for their second passport.
Montenegro’s programme is a fast-track route that allows successful applicants to receive citizenship within four to six months of application.
“There is no physical residency requirement before or after citizenship,” says Rissik. “Applicants need to visit Montenegro only once after the approval in principle is received. There are no language requirements, obligatory interviews or any need to renounce any existing citizenship. Another advantage is that an applicant’s spouse and dependent children can be included in application.”
Montenegro, with a population of 650 000, is scheduled to be admitted to the European Union community by 2025 (though it already uses the euro as currency). Previously part of Yugoslavia, it is strategically located in the heart of the Adriatic and is one of the best-connected luxury communities in the world.
While Montenegro is not a member of the Schengen area, the Montenegrin passport allows visa-free access throughout Europe.
Montenegro is also a United States E-2 Treaty country, which means that citizens of Montenegro have the option to relocate to the US, provided they are willing to invest in and operate a business there.
“As the second fastest-growing tourism economy in the world and a member of the Nato [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] alliance, the guarantee of Montenegrin citizenship offers a safe and secure investment, with global access opportunities from the heart of the Adriatic,” says Rissik.
The July riots were a game-changer
“A lot of people are looking for a Plan B in case things go bad in SA,” says Rissik.
“The riots and looting we saw in July was a watershed moment for many people. If you look at the path we’ve travelled since former president Jacob Zuma came in, we’ve had a few shocks, but the riots in July were a game-changer. We’ve never been so swamped with inquiries.
“There’s a realisation that when trouble like this strikes, you are on your own. You cannot rely on the police or the army coming to your aid. It was armed citizens who protected their homes and businesses during the riots. It’s unfortunate, but this is why people are wanting to leave.”
Rissik says Montenegro’s favourable economic and political climate provides a solid investment opportunity, grounded by economic stability.
A qualifying investment of €450 000 (around R7.83 million) into this developed area, alongside a contribution of €100 000 (R1.74 million) to a government development fund, plus associated admin and processing costs, is all that’s required to obtain citizenship.
“One of the reasons this area is so attractive is that the property boom means that you’re likely to get a great return on your investment, independent of the advantages of the citizenship programme,” adds Rissik.
“Montenegro has no restrictions on foreign ownership and offers one of the most favourable tax regimes in Europe.”
A Montenegro passport offers visa-free access to many countries for which South Africans currently need visas, and is becoming popular due to its favourable tax regime, especially for those in the gig economy.
“There’s a growing community of South Africans in Montenegro. When someone discovers a country, you tend to find more and more people talk about it, travel there, and then relocate,” says Rissik.
It’s possible to acquire a residency permit to live there, which can be renewed annually.
The citizenship programme is more costly, and Rissik warns that there are some real estate companies selling properties in Montenegro that do not qualify for the programme, so getting the right advice up front is crucial.
The Bay of Kotor, with its world-class, 450-berth superyacht marina, is a preferred address for those planning to relocate. It offers award-winning luxury residential developments and a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
“Buying into a development such as Boka Place, one of the first coastal projects to be approved for Montenegro’s citizenship-by-investment programme, offers a clear path to citizenship and a Montenegrin passport to qualifying investors,” says Rissik.
Boka Place comprises 144 apartments of varying sizes – all managed by Kerzner International – with prices starting at €190 000 (R3.3 million). The units range from one- to three-bedroom penthouses and duplex units offering a wellness-focused lifestyle and stunning outdoor views, surrounded by fitness centres and pool facilities, as well as restaurants.
About Sable International
For over 20 years Sable International has been assisting people with their complex cross-border financial and emigration needs. It works with you to find the programme that has the best fit for you and your family. All of the costs are discussed in detail so you can be sure of the financial commitments from the outset. For further information and to enquire, please contact Sarah Young at Sable International: email@example.com or +27 21 657 1584.
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