What the newly launched CBI program of Montenegro offers investors

The government of Montenegro started to accept applications for its citizenship-by-investment (CBI) program in October of 2019, limiting it to the first 2,000 foreigners. In exchange for investments over the next three years to help accelerate the country’s economic development, they can receive citizenship and a passport. Montenegro, a NATO member country with a population of about 630,000, allows its citizens to travel to 122 different countries without a visa. Many CBI professionals anticipate that Montenegro’s program will become successful in Europe. Here is why Montenegro is attractive to investors.

Montenegro, which is an official candidate for EU membership, is expected to be a member-state in 2025. In February 2018, the European Commission published a new enlargement strategy, offering a credible enlargement perspective to southern European countries, including Montenegro, because the EU intends to enhance engagement with the region. The European Commission has identified Montenegro as having a high level of preparedness for EU membership among the negotiating states. Experts say Montenegro has a lead in its relations with the EU.

THE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE IN MONTENEGRO

The EU is also Montenegro's biggest trading partner, as well as its largest provider of financial assistance under its instrument for pre-accession assistance. Montenegro, well ahead in the EU accession process, and with no major bilateral issues with its neighbors, has welcomed the strategy and its encouraging message. The EU directives provide the same rules for all EU member-states for the promotion of citizenship programs. Therefore, Montenegro can compare its program with other citizenship/residency programs in Europe, such as Malta, Cyprus, Portugal or Bulgaria. Take a look at the costs of other countries. Cyprus requires a property investment of 2 million euros for a family of four. Malta requires a donation and additional charges, costing around 1 million. Portugal offers only resident permits, and Bulgaria has closed its accelerated citizenship program.

In Montenegro, applicants donate 100,000 euros for the development of communities and also invest 250,000 euros in development projects in the north and center of Montenegro. They can also spend 450,000 in projects in the capital Podgorica or along the coast. This makes the net cost of obtaining citizenship in Montenegro the lowest of European countries. Milanka Bakovic, director of the directorate of civil status and identity documents at the Ministry of the Interior, affirmed that the applicants do not have to renounce their original citizenship. This means dual citizenship is possible.

WHY INVEST IN MONTENEGRO?

Montenegro, long regarded as the pearl of southern Europe, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. Montenegro is also becoming a key destination for investors looking for mobility, security and a better quality of life. Apart from the country’s natural beauty and sophisticated culture, its independence and strategic geographical location in Europe, with direct access to the Adriatic Sea, make it an ideal choice for many industries.

Montenegro is not only a good location to obtain a European passport, but it is one of Europe’s last low-tax jurisdictions as well. The country offers a very efficient and productive environment for investors, including a flat corporate tax rate of 9%. The main strength of Montenegro’s economy is tourism, but other sectors have also contributed to a 4.8% increase in GDP last year. In a statement issued by the government in recent months, officials declared that the program aims to further accelerate Montenegro’s economic development by creating new tourism, agriculture and processing capacities. All this will create new jobs.

REAL ESTATE OPTIONS

Currently, investors can choose from real estate investments. The Montenegrin Cabinet has adopted a list of development projects in the field of tourism. On the seaside and the capital city of Podgorica, only those five-star hotel projects may qualify. They must develop at least 60 accommodation units and employ at least 80 people. Meanwhile, in the north, the four-star category is enough, and the number of employed residents can be only 25. Another eligibility criterion is the minimum amount of investment: 15 million euros along the seaside and 5 million in the northern regions.

According to Damir Davidovic, secretary of state at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, there will be more tourists in Montenegro than the previous years. An estimated 2.5 million visitors will spend more than 14 million nights in the Adriatic country in 2019. Finally, the Montenegro CBI program is able to attract investors who are looking for European business opportunities, a European education for their children, or simply the freedom to live and retire anywhere in Europe.

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About the Author

Janos Rinfel
Janos Rinfel

Janos Rinfel is a UAE immigration consultant. He currently services as the legal director at the Dubai office of Discus Holdings, Ltd, a Malta-based consulting firm on global residency and second citizenship planning. With a team of professional lawyers and consultants, Discus Holdings helps global high net worth individuals with their application for resident permits and citizenship in countries in Europe, North America and the Caribbean. The company also assists with outbound investment, corporate services, financial and tax structuring.

At Discus Holdings, Rinfel focuses his practice on immigration law, corporate law, tax law, banking and finance. Prior to joining Discus, Rinfel worked as a senior associate at KPMG Legal Tóásó Law Firm. He also served as a junior lawyer at Rödl & Partner and Dessewffy & David and Partners Law Office, both located in Hungary.

Rinfel obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Pécs. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in geopolitics at the University of Pécs.

Rinfel speaks Hungarian, English and German.

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