Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Review: What You Should Know

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Review What You Should Know

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Nestled in the West-central Balkans between Bosnia and Herzegovina to the north, Serbia and Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south-east, Croatia to the west, and with the Adriatic sea serving as a picturesque coastline, Montenegro is a place of stunning natural beauty.

A small country of just over 600,000 people, and boasting a comfortable and laid-back lifestyle with a low cost of living combined with low taxes and great schools, the Balkan nation is an attractive new home for many prospective immigrants.

To spur immigration and investment into the country, Montenegro instituted a citizenship by investment program to offer people a pathway to citizenship in the country, while also addressing their need for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). 

For any readers looking to settle down in Montenegro, let’s take a look at the citizenship program and what you can do to ensure your application goes smoothly.

Update: the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program comes to an end on 31 December 2022. If you’re interested in applying, act now by filling in this form.

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Why Choose the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program?

Montenegro has instituted a citizenship by investment program for anyone who’d like to get a Montenegrin passport.

With the passport, you get visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 123 countries and regions worldwide. You can enter Europe’s Schengen Area, most South American nations, Russia, and Turkey.

In addition, Montenegro has filed for inclusion in the European Union and could possibly be a member by 2025. Citizenship would mean you get the benefits of being a national of a future EU state.

Montenegro is part of a wider European community and is a nation that enjoys great Mediterranean weather, beautiful scenery, luscious greenery, and a relatively low cost of living.

On top of that, Montenegro is also a member state of the European Monetary Union, the NATO Alliance, OSCE, and the WTO. Being a member of such powerful transnational organizations has various benefits for the member countries and their citizens.

The taxation rate in Montenegro is also among the lowest in developed and developing countries.

Once your application is successful, you and your family are granted full citizenship to a beautiful new country in Europe that is both politically and economically stable.

When you apply for citizenship, officials go over your application to make sure everything is in order and then respond in a timely manner.

Who is the Program For?

The Montenegrin Citizenship by Investment Program is for anyone with financial capital looking to get a second passport.

The passport, especially, is widely respected and allows you visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 123 countries and areas around the world.

As mentioned earlier, Montenegro is expected to become part of the EU soon. This means it will be easier for a Montenegrin passport holder to move throughout and run a business in the EU countries. 

However, there are a lot of requirements in place. You must financially contribute to and invest in the country as part of your application process.

It can be an expensive process, so be aware of this before you apply.

Requirements

Compared to other citizenship programs, the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program requires a smaller investment. The processing time is also much shorter. 

The main requirements of the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program is an investment in a real estate project in the country. It’s EUR250,000 if you invest in an undeveloped area or EUR450,000 for developed areas such as Podgorica. 

After that, you need to contribute another EUR200,000 to the government.

The EUR200,000 is divided into 2 donations. EUR100,000 goes to the Innovation Fund of Montenegro and EUR100,000 goes to fund the advancement or local underdeveloped self-government units.

In total, you need an investment of EUR450,000 or EUR650,000 for the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program. 

It’s also possible to add your family to the program by contributing another EUR100,000 to the Montenegro government per applicant. 

Government processing fee is only EUR15,000 for the main applicant. It’s EUR10,000 for each of the next four dependents and EUR50,000 for any subsequent dependent.

For example, if you are applying the program with two dependents, the processing fee is going to be EUR35,000.

Other requirements are very basic. 

The main applicant must be over 18 years of age. Anyone listed on the main applicants form who is under 18 will be given permanent residence, followed by citizenship via the usual citizenship procedure once he or she turns 18 years old.

Moreover, you must show proof to immigration authorities that you have a clear criminal record.

You are also required to submit the following documents to prove you and your dependents’ identities if you wish to have your application processed successfully:

  • application form for citizenship approval
  • notarized copy of your passport
  • original birth certificate/extract
  • original marriage certificate/extract
  • health insurance policy valid in Montenegro
  • medical report detailing health condition for infectious diseases
  • statement that details origin of funds for the application fee and subsequent investments

Costs

As mentioned earlier, the bulk of the costs of the program is made up of the contribution and investment donations that you’re expected to make.

The total cost of the application process including due diligence fees, dependent fees, biometric passport fees, and so on, can equal EUR650,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the necessary contributions:

  • An investment of at least EUR450,000 in an approved real estate development project in Podgorica or in the coastal region of Montenegro. Or alternatively, an investment of at least EUR250,000 into an approved real estate development project in the northern or central region of Montenegro, excluding Podgorica.
  • EUR100,000 contribution, designated for the advancement of local under-developed, self-government units. This goes toward a development fund aimed at providing support to infrastructure in the non-tourists parts of the country.
  • EUR100,0000 contribution to the Innovation Fund of Montenegro.
Montenegro mountainous terrain
After you get a Montenegrin citizenship, you can live in this beautiful country of Montenegro anytime as you like.

On top of that, you are also required to cover application and government processing fees. These costs vary depending on how many people – besides you, the main applicant – are included on the application.

The relevant application and government processing fees that you need to pay can be broken down like this:

  • A fee of EUR15,000 per application to cover the government’s costs. This is for a single applicant.
  • EUR10,000 for each family member included as part of the application, up to three.
  • EUR50,000 for every family member after the first three.
  • EUR7,000 for the main applicant plus EUR10,000 for each family member up to four. For any dependents after that, the cost is EUR1,500 per dependent.

You also need to cover intermediate agents and biometric passport fees as well.

Application Process

You’re expected to submit your application through intermediary agents officially recognized by the Government of Montenegro.

The intermediary agent will be key to your application. They help you throughout the application process, including doing the due diligence and finding a real estate investment. 

You must also ensure that your application is completed, accompanied by appropriate fees and supporting documents for yourself and all eligible family members.

This includes spouses, dependent adult children, and dependent children under 18 years of age. You also have to show certified passport copies, certified copies of ID cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, and medical certificates.

This information must be verified by your intermediary agent. In case you provide falsified information or deliberately conceal of facts or circumstances, your Montenegrin citizenship will be subsequently revoked by the Government of Montenegro.

Starting May 25, 2022, the Montenegro Government will also publicly announce the name, without any other personal information, of everyone who granted Montenegrin citizenship through the investment program.

Do I Need to Be in Montenegro? 

To apply for the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program, you don’t need to be in Montenegro. The entire process, including due diligence and real estate investment, can be done from abroad. 

You only have to come to Montenegro to get your Montenegrin citizenship and passport after your application is approved. 

Time Frame

Once the application is received, the government will process the application in around three months. Due diligence itself takes around six months, followed by successful applicants being awarded full citizenship with all its corresponding benefits.

Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship is a bit of a tricky affair in Montenegro. The country’s history in the 20th century is one of conflict and it has been a stable democracy for a relatively short period following the fall of Yugoslavia.

The country restricts its citizens from holding dual citizenship, but applicants who successfully gain Montenegrin citizenship through the investment program are exempt from this law.

Once you are a Montenegrin citizen, you can keep your old citizenship as well if you desire.

Why Montenegro?

Many people have different reasons of moving to Montenegro. Here are some popular reasons why they want to have Montenegro citizenship.

Climate

Montenegro is a country of lush natural beauty, perfect for the many nature lovers out there. If you love hiking, the “black mountains” – as the country’s name suggests – cover most of the nation and provide numerous opportunities to enjoy the gorgeous natural vistas.

If some fun in the sun is more your style, Montenegro is home to over 100 beautiful beaches over its almost 300km long coastline. Tourists from all over Europe flock to enjoy the sand and surf in Montenegro, and being a citizen of the nation means you have access all year round.

You could even venture out to the many rivers that crisscross the nation like the famous Tara River, nicknamed “The Tear of Europe” for its beautiful emerald clear water.

The climate is generally Mediterranean but gets colder the more inland you go. Winters can be a bit cold depending on where you are but not extreme. Summers are hot and sunny and you can expect rainfall over the rainy seasons. It’s generally very mild weather and a great place to be all year round.

In sum, it is a nation of mountains, thick forests, beautiful rivers and lakes, beaches and the Adriatic Sea, deep gorges, hiking and cycling trails, and more for the intrepid explorer. 

Raising a Family

A major plus of life in Montenegro is the pace. Life is slower in Montenegro and many expats find they have more time to spend with family or take small vacations. The slower pace of life means less stress and the abundant natural beauty only helps bolster that image of serenity.

Montenegro has both great public and private schools for children living in the country, which are competitive with similar schooling institutions around the world. Classes in public schools are taught in Montenegrin, but you can find private schools that teach in English as well.

beautiful beach in Montenegro
Because of the slower life, abundant natural beauty, safety, and good education system, Montenegro is a good country to raise your family.

Since a large barrier to settling down comfortably might be the language, make sure to take lessons and enroll your children in language classes so you can better adjust yourself to life in a new country. It’s also important to discuss how to make sure your children adjust to the new country and language with school officials.

All in all there are pros and cons to life in Montenegro for a family immigrating there, but it’s possible to smartly navigate past any issues before they arise.

Living Standards

Beyond the natural beauty available to you, the country is also known for being a very affordable place to settle down in. Rent, groceries, utilities, and healthcare are all very affordable in comparison to more expensive European destinations or the United States. 

Excluding rent, you could live on as little as €450 per month in Montenegro by yourself, although more likely €650 – €750 or more.

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With a larger family along with you on your journey, you’ll find your expenses will also be proportionally greater. Rent, groceries, childcare, etc will increase your monthly expenses and you can expect to pay as much as €2,500 without rent and over €3,000 with rent included.

Rent can be anywhere from around €250 in less popular areas to €600 and higher for bigger places in more fashionable areas of the country. Adding it all together, your monthly expenses can be quite affordable while maintaining a very comfortable standard of living.

Another reason to move there is the very low crime rate. Violent crime is very low compared to most other countries and Montenegro is considered a very safe country to reside in.

There is some street crime when in tourist heavy areas during the tourist season in summer, but as long as you exercise common sense practices, you’ll be fine.

Access to Europe

Situated in the Balkans in Southeast Europe, Montenegro is close to most other European nations, but access is relatively limited when compared to much larger countries like the US or Britain.

There are only a few countries and airlines that offer direct flights to Montenegro, but they are major hubs so it’s usually just a single layover before you can travel out to your next destination. Air France, Turkish Airlines, Alitalia, Brussels Airlines, LOT, Austrian Airlines, Aegean Airlines are the major airlines operating out of Montenegro’s airports.

You could take rail, either Eurailpass or InterRail, to travel out of the country if you’re looking to hop across to a closer destination or if you plan to take in the sights on your travels.

There is also the famous Bar to Belgrade train route, an 11 hour journey which crosses through 276 miles of beautiful mountainous terrain that covers Montenegro and Serbia.

Long-term Stay

There’s another advantage to being a resident or citizen of Montenegro. For example, US citizens can stay without a visa for a maximum of 90 days but then need to leave. You could leave and return every 90 days but this is a short term solution. You also can’t work or enrol your children in any schools.

As a new Montenegrin citizen or resident, you can live, work, or start a business in Montenegro. Your children can go to school, and you’ll have access to the benefits in place for people living in Montenegro.

Kotor, costal town in Montenegro
As a Montenegrin citizen, you can stay in Kotor, a beautiful costal town in Montenegro without having to worry about visas.

You also don’t need to leave the country every few months to restart your visa. Taking all these factors into account, residency is a much better option than a visa.

Taxation

One major pro of living in Montenegro is the tax regime. At 9% generally, the country has one of the lowest tax rates in the developed or developing world, which usually tax their citizens and residents at 10% to 35+%.

This 9% rate applies to corporate income tax, capital gains, and personal income. Montenegro also has double taxation treaties with a number of other countries out there as well. 

Only income above the average is taxed at a higher rate of 11%. However, the income up to the average level is still taxed at only 9%.

VAT is 21% with a reduced or zero rate for certain goods and services and there is a real estate tax of 0.25% to 1% depending on the municipality you’re in.

Montenegro’s very low taxes are just another great part of what makes it such an attractive location to settle down in.

What Effect Has COVID-19 Had on the Citizenship Program?

Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact the world over, with many countries shutting their borders down to contain the spread of the virus. Montenegro has been no different, and has taken drastic measures to combat the spread.

There was a momentary interruption to new submissions, but otherwise the country’s goal to continue the process remains unchanged.

How to Get It

If after reading through all the information we’ve laid out, you feel the Montenegrin citizenship program is for you, let’s now take a look at where to start your application process.

Montenegro’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for administering the citizenship program. You’ll need to contact an intermediary agent accredited by the Government of Montenegro to handle your case, including helping you to prepare your documents and the required investment and contributions.

If you pass your due diligence, and your documents and finances are in order, you might be saying hello to your new home nation in a rather short timespan.

Is It Worth It?

This depends on if you have the financial capital to afford investing anywhere from over 350,000 to 650,000 Euros in Montenegro. It’s a hefty sum that automatically precludes anyone without that capital from being able to apply for Montenegrin citizenship.

If the benefits of Montenegrin citizenship far outweigh the financial burden, then it is an attractive choice.

Now, on to You

For those interested in the Montenegrin Citizenship by Investment Program, fill out the form below. An official intermediary agent from the program will get back to you shortly to help you start your application process before the program closes at the end of 2022.

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Before immigrating to Canada, Zain had the great fortune to live in places around the world and values the experiences he gained along the way. He's now based in Waterloo, Canada but you'll often find him in Thailand, a country he's fallen in love with.

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