The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu agrees to accept payments in the virtual currency Bitcoin, as part of its $200,000 citizenship program, becoming the first country to accept the cryptocurrency for obtaining citizenship status.The offer effective immediately.
Bitcoin is trading at $4,581. This means that Vanuatu’s investment-for-citizenship programme will cost around 43.64 Bitcoin.
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The Government of Vanuatu, in a statement, confirmed support for crypto payments to the chairman of the investment organization the Vanuatu Information Centre – which describes the island nation as a “beautiful, remote, tax-free tropical paradise.”
Vanuatu is part of the Commonwealth of Independent States, so citizenship allows visa-free entry to 113 countries, including Britain, Russia and EU member states. It also offers low tax rates for those who acquire citizenship, including the absence of tax on capital gains and income tax.
All this, when potential citizens do not have to live in Vanuatu or even visit the place even once.
“This is a significant step forward in our efforts, working with the Government of Vanuatu to propel the Vanuatu DSP to the forefront of CIPs globally”, said James Harris, Managing Director of the Vanuatu Information Centre Network in a statement.
He added, “there remains some suspicion surrounding the use of crypto-currency in financial transactions and some fears that it can be related to undesirable activities. In fact, the opposite is true, as crypto-currency exists in a fully traceable ledger where the entire history of its creation and trading is visible. Therefore, our pioneering of the use of Bitcoin payment is a further strengthening of AML processes, and at the same time provides enormous flexibility in a world where international financial transactions have become ever more difficult”.
Vanuatu is the first country to offer citizenship for a fee in Bitcoin, but it is certainly not the only one offering citizenship in exchange for an investment.
In view of the increasing uncertainty in the world, such programs are only flourishing. For example, earlier this year, the Thai government began offering “advanced” residency visas to foreign nationals, allowing them to live in the country for an investment of $3,000 a year.
This program includes seven different packages, the most expensive costs $60 thousand for residency for 20 years, plus an annual participation fee of $600. The price also includes priority in queues in government offices, issuing a driver’s license and obtaining a work permit.