St. Kitts and Nevis

Written by Henry Martin . Posted in Finance

The dual island nation punches well above its weight thanks to a citizenship by investment program (CIP) that has become the world standard, not to mention well-administered and thriving tourism and real estate sectors and a financial services industry that continues to go from strength to strength. St Kitts & Nevis developed the world’s first-ever citizenship by investment program in 1984. In doing so, it stole a march on its rivals to become the most trusted and successful program of its kind in the intervening years. Criteria for qualifying candidates constitutes either an investment in the nation’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or alternatively in Government-approved real estate.

For those fulfilling the investment criteria, the country’s business-friendly policies and tax breaks have made it a highly attractive proposition for many. Meanwhile, pertinent legislation and regulation relating to the registration of companies, foundations and trusts, as well as international insurance and trust service providers have kept the two jurisdictions in the spotlight for the right reasons for those looking for a reputable IFC. Nevis in particular has carved out for itself a reputation as a Caribbean HQ for captive insurance.


"A Nevis captive constitutes a more compelling, competitive, efficient, and ultimately more compliant proposition than domiciling captives in the US, or elsewhere."


There is no doubting that the CIP program has enhanced the country’s fortunes and those of its people, but as with all the best initiatives the benefits flow in both directions. In this way, investors can avail themselves of visa-free travel to over 133 countries; citizenship for life, with the right to live and work in the country; the ability to pass one’s citizenship to future generations by descent; the opportunity to maintain dual citizenship if so desired; a low tax regime, thereby potentially reducing the burden of worldwide income, inheritance, and gift tax; the ability to include family members in the application, and the absence of a requirement to reside in St Kitts and Nevis before, during, or after the application The stand-out feature of the CIP Program is the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF). Its force for good credentials are best evidenced through its projects pertaining to rebuilding infrastructure, promoting clean energy sources, supporting new businesses, and developing housing structures. The real estate option, meanwhile, allows for investment in designated government-approved developments, with this side of the program underpinning St. Kitts and Nevis’ flourishing real estate sector.


"Other recent reforms introduced by CEO, Les Khan include an accelerated application process allowing for the fast-tracking of applicants and the granting of approvals within 60 days for a premium, as well as the implementation of a Technical Committee."


It is worth mentioning that the program has been newly remodelled, whereby an online application management system now allows service providers to carefully trace citizenship applications, offering the first workflow system in respect of citizenship-by-investment programs anywhere in the world. Moreover, it is informed at every stage by robust due diligence procedures, amounting to a strengthened vetting process to address any narratives to the contrary on this front. Other recent reforms introduced by CEO, Les Khan include an accelerated application process allowing for the fast-tracking of applicants and the granting of approvals within 60 days for a premium, as well as the implementation of a Technical Committee.

It is to be stressed that no corners are cut in delivering this accelerated service. Rather, it has been made possible by an increase in staffing levels and training to ensure the appropriate expertise. Captive Insurance in Nevis From a legal and regulatory standpoint, St. Kitts and Nevis comprise two separate jurisdictions, such that in respect of international financial services each has its particular strengths. While St Kitts is perhaps strongest and has built up a reputation around small closely held companies, Nevis is increasingly becoming known as a stand-out jurisdiction for captive insurance.

A Nevis captive constitutes a more compelling, competitive, efficient, and ultimately more compliant proposition than domiciling captives in the US, or elsewhere. It is in fact just because the likes of Nevis have to work so hard to counter the negative narrative surrounding them that they have become scrupulously transparent and accountable. Nevis, especially blends this responsible quality with financial services expertise and pedigree honed and built up over many decades. Investors can be reassured by its force for good credentials and role as an essential cog in the global financial system, and conduit for delivering FDI into the developing world.

Aided by competitive fees, Nevis has been able to move beyond its traditional US clientele to attract business from Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Far East. Moreover, strong compliance credentials such as anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism regulations, as well as other safeguards in place act to reassure interested parties that Nevis takes its responsibilities seriously in this regard. This is evidenced by a regulatory commission with teeth, that believes in suitably flexible regulation, but regulation which is fit for purpose, as well as a comprehensive vetting process and strong due diligence performed before any licenses are granted.

The 2004 legislation governing captives underpins Nevis' continued strong performance in the captive arena, despite increasing competition, particularly from certain US states. The jurisdiction continues to prosper due to strong regulatory and supervisory support, comprehensive and expert service provision, and consistently high standards that consolidate the jurisdiction's reputation for efficiency and reliability. Moreover, Nevis is proactive in disseminating its message at pertinent international captive insurance events to ensure that, despite its small size, it’s voice is heard. In this endeavour it is assisted by successive governments committed to captive insurance and a wider portfolio of pre-investment and after care services to individual investors, trusts and international service providers.

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