Nestled in Southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, Montenegro is famous for its awe-inspiring natural landscapes.
As a NATO member and an official EU candidate country, Montenegro provides several advantages to its citizens, including visa-free access to the Schengen Area, Russia, and Turkey.
Montenegro introduced its Citizenship by Investment (CIP) program to attract foreign direct investment and promote economic development. However, the program concluded on December 31, 2022.
Details of Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Program
Initially launched by the Montenegrin government in July 2018, the CIP was an initiative to attract foreign investment and increase economic activity in specific regions of the country.
The program was limited to only 2,000 applications and offered one of the simplest and fastest routes to acquiring alternative citizenship for you and your family.
To qualify for the CIP, you had to pass a due diligence process, contribute to a government fund and invest in a government-approved real estate project.
In return, you and your family could have received Montenegro citizenship without the need to pass a language proficiency test and requirements to live in Montenegro.
Benefits of the Montenegrin CIP
If you applied before December 2022 and were qualified for the Montenegro CPI program, you would have been offered a range of benefits, such as:
- Visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 124 destinations, including Europe’s Schengen Area, Russia, and Turkey.
- Citizenship in an official EU candidate country (is expected to enter the EU in 2025).
- Citizenship in a member state of the European Monetary Union, NATO Alliance, OSCE, and the WTO.
- Full Montenegrin citizenship for you and your family.
- Investment in Montenegro via an approved development project, often operated by a renowned hotel brand.
- Tax optimization as the income tax rate is 9%-15% in Montenegro.
- Exemptions from Montenegro’s strict restrictions on dual citizenship.
- As a citizen of Montenegro under the CIP program, you would have been permitted to live and work in the U.S. under the E-2 Treaty Program.
Family Member Allowance
As a successful CIP applicant, you could have added the following family members to your application:
- children under the age of 26 and who are financially dependent on the applicant,
- parents, and
- grandparents who are 65 years or older.
Family members had to undergo a due diligence process, including a health check, to be included in the application.
Dual Citizenship Allowance
You could maintain dual citizenship if you were accepted into Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Program. This was an exception, as dual citizenship was normally not permitted under Article 8 of the law on Montenegrin citizenship.
According to Article 12 of the law, those who made significant contributions to the country, such as through investments, could be granted citizenship. This would have applied to you if you had been accepted into the program.
Citizenship by Investment Requirements
To be eligible for the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program, you needed to be over 18 years of age and meet the following requirements:
- You were a third-country national, not an EU or EFTA citizen.
- You underwent a stringent vetting and due diligence process, including thorough background checks. A clean criminal record was required.
- You were required to pass a health check.
- You had to prove that your funds were legally acquired and show good credit history.
- You were required to make a minimum financial contribution of €450,000, which included an investment of €250,000 in an approved development project and a donation of €200,000 to the country.
Required Documents and Procedures
To apply for the CIP successfully, you were required to provide the following personal documents for yourself and your family members:
- an application form for citizenship approval,
- a notarized passport copy (certified with an apostille, if applicable),
- an original birth certificate/extract,
- an original marriage certificate/extract,
- a health insurance policy valid in Montenegro,
- a medical report assessing your health for infectious diseases, and
- a statement detailing the origin of funds for your fee payment and investments.
Step-by-Step Procedure To Obtain CIP
If all documents were in order, the following steps for the CIP application applied.
- First, you underwent preliminary due diligence on your profile.
- Selection of a Government approved real estate project.
- You would collect all application documents and open a bank account in Montenegro.
- Payment of application fees and investment capital were made into escrow.
- Submission of the final application.
- If there were no questions or changes, the authorities would approve the application.
- You fly to Montenegro to obtain your passports.
CIP Investment and Time Frame
The CIP required you to make a qualifying investment of:
- €450,000 in development projects in the capital of Podgorica or the coastal regions, or
- €250,000 in development projects in northern or central Montenegro, excluding Podgorica.
Additionally, you were required to pay a government fee of €200,000 per application. This contribution was directed to a special fund for the advancement of underdeveloped areas (€100,000) and the Innovation Fund of Montenegro (€100,000).
Once the applications were submitted through officially accredited intermediary agents, the relevant government department processed them within 8 to 10 months.
Where To Allocate Your Investment
The CIP financial commitment was a great opportunity to establish a home base in Montenegro or set up an income-generating asset.
One option was cheaper—investing in the underdeveloped regions of northern and central Montenegro. Several government development projects in the southern and coastal regions included resorts, hotels, and vacation homes.
Buying real estate in Montenegro is still a sound investment, given Montenegro’s growing property market. With some research, your investment into CIP could have yielded more than just citizenship to your family.
History of the Citizenship by Investment Programs in Montenegro
The Montenegrin government has attempted to introduce a Citizenship by Investment Program twice before. On both occasions, in 2010 and 2014-15, the government sold Montenegrin passports to “respected businessmen of credible standing” for roughly €500,000.
However, due to concerns from the EU and public criticism, both schemes were terminated.
The CIP program introduced in 2018 included more rigorous due diligence and verification of credentials. Although the new changes extended the time frame, they were not expected to last indefinitely.
It seems this was the last opportunity to acquire Montenegrin (potentially European) citizenship at a comparatively small investment for such a substantial opportunity.
Fortunately, these adjustments brought legitimacy and efficiency. A skilled and reputable team in Montenegro handled all documentation promptly and efficiently.
Future of the Montenegrin CIP
In conclusion, Montenegro’s program offered various benefits, including visa-free access to numerous destinations and the opportunity to invest in the country’s development projects.
Although the program is currently on pause, alternative golden visa options exist in Montenegro, which will also give you residence or citizenship via investment.
Several countries offer attractive citizenship by investment programs, including Malta and Cyprus.
These programs come with their own set of requirements, benefits, and investment options, making it essential to research and compare them to find the best fit for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your options in alternate countries.
If you are still interested in the country as a strategic or home base, you may want to explore other paths to gaining residency in Montenegro. Or if a passport is your core focus, other avenues of acquiring citizenship in Montenegro, such as naturalization or ancestry may be of interest.
While these options may have different requirements and time frames, they can provide a pathway to enjoying the benefits of Montenegrin citizenship.
Please contact me to learn about your options for getting establishing in Montenegro.