Why No One Needs to Be Poor in Dominica
Last week, I was in the Commonwealth of Dominica for the first time since 2017’s Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
English-speaking Dominica (not to be confused with the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic) consists of 290 mountainous square miles. It’s the northernmost and largest of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles and lies between the French territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Once a colony of the United Kingdom, Dominica became an independent member of the British Commonwealth in 1978.
Today, in Maria’s aftermath, there’s construction going on everywhere. Skeletons of ruined buildings dotting the landscape. are reminders that disaster struck here not long ago. Yet there is an atmosphere of enormous hope and goodwill. That became clear to me as soon as I arrived at the newly renovated Douglas-Charles Airport on the country’s northeast coast, where a taxi was waiting for me. During the hour-long drive into Roseau, the capital, the driver and I had a long conversation about Dominica.
While about 29% of Dominica’s population of 70,000 officially live in poverty, the country’s rich soil and abundant water give it immense agricultural productivity. “No one has to be poor in this country,” my driver told me. “The soil is so rich you can grow almost anything. Even if you don’t have any money, you can pick dinner from a tree or grow it from the ground.” Visiting the farmer’s market the next morning, I saw countless varieties of organically grown bananas, plantains, coconuts, and other produce being sold for at least 75% less than in my home state of Arizona.
But challenges remain. Beginning in the 1980s, the Dominica government sought to promote the island as an "eco-tourist" destination, even calling it “The Nature Island of the Caribbean.” Tourism now contributes millions of dollars to the economy, but the country’s rugged coastline, lack of sand beaches, and absence of a large international airport have hindered its growth.
Then, the passage of Maria – a Category 5 hurricane that pounded the island with sustained winds of 160 mph – changed everything. The storm damaged or destroyed 90% of the buildings on the island. Total damages, according to a study by the World Trade Organization, came to a stunning 226% of the country’s GDP.
In a meeting I had last Wednesday with one of Dominica’s leading attorneys, I asked where the money to rebuild had come from. He told me China and the EU contributed to finance redevelopment, but 99% of the funds came from Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment program. The stated goal in rebuilding is to make Dominica the world’s first “climate resilient nation.”
Dominica offers one of the least expensive options for legitimate citizenship-by-investment. It’s worth considering not only for the priceless asset of second citizenship, but also because the program directly benefits Dominica.
A Dominica passport gives you the right to travel to more than 140 countries visa-free, or the ability to obtain a visa on arrival. It also lets you live and work in other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Besides Dominica, this group of countries includes Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
There are two options for citizenship-by-investment in Dominica.
Contribution option: The minimum contribution for citizenship and a passport is $100,000 for a single applicant. Larger contributions qualify your opposite-sex spouse, your dependent children under 30, and qualified adult dependents to citizenship and a passport. You make the contribution only after the government approves your application. Additional costs come to about $30,000, making the total expenditure for a Dominica passport a minimum of $130,000 for a single applicant. Total costs including all fees for a husband and wife for this option come to about $210,000.
Real estate option: Alternatively, you may purchase qualifying real estate in Dominica with a minimum value of $200,000. Additional costs come to a minimum of $90,000.
One of the tasks I assigned myself while visiting Dominica was visiting several of the developments qualifying for citizenship by investment. Most developments are organized as partnerships, which means that buyers don’t have fee-simple ownership. While you can sell your real estate after three years and keep your Dominica passport, rules enforced by the Securities & Exchange Commission make it illegal to sell your partnership interest to a US resident without going through an expensive and time-consuming process.
Fortunately, there are a couple of developments which offer fee-simple ownership – and a much more straightforward way to sell.
If you’d like to explore the options of obtaining a second citizenship and passport from Dominica, we can help. The Nestmann Group, Ltd. is the only US-based authorized agent for this program. For more information, contact us at email@example.com.
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