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Seeking residency by investment in the Cayman Islands during COVID-19: a Q&A with attorney Daniel Altneu


By Sue Nickason

Calling the Cayman Islands home is the aim of an increasing number of high-net-worth individuals with a goal to establish long-term and/or permanent residency for themselves and their families in this idyllic cosmopolitan Caribbean territory.

Offering a stable economy and government, modern infrastructure and tax neutrality, this British Overseas Territory is well suited to discerning individuals seeking to live here on a part-time or full-time basis.

The sales professionals at Provenance Properties – the official Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands – are receiving a growing number of enquiries from clients interested in acquiring residency, according to Sales Specialist Fleur Coleman. Due to travel restrictions currently in place, clients are also asking if residency applications can still be processed.

We spoke to Daniel Altneu, a senior associate with Bedell Cristin in the Cayman Islands, to learn more. Daniel advises high-net-worth individuals on immigration issues and assists persons of independent means with applying for residency by investment and their subsequent relocation to the Cayman Islands.


Daniel Altneu, Senior Associate at Bedell Cristin

Daniel, how have the current shelter-in-place guidelines impacted the residency-by-investment application process in the Cayman Islands?

The Cayman Islands Government is still processing pending applications and has confirmed that new applications can be submitted electronically. We are fortunate that the civil service and professional service providers in Cayman were able to transition quickly to a remote working environment, thereby ensuring business continuity in most sectors.

We continue to receive enquiries from clients abroad who wish to buy property during this time so that they may commence their residency application process. What are the first steps they should take if they cannot visit Cayman in person at this time?

The first step an applicant should take is to contact a Cayman Islands residency expert at a local law firm, such as Bedell Cristin, to discuss individual requirements and the proposed residency path. Upon engaging their services, the next step is to engage the services of a local real estate firm, such as Provenance Properties, to review what types of properties will meet the residency criteria.  Of note is that unlike other jurisdictions, applicants do not need to purchase property from a Government-approved project or developer.

Each of these steps can be achieved by telephone, email and video conferencing. Many realtors offer virtual tours of available residences for sale and can conduct negotiations and transactions digitally. The law firm can then assist conveying the property purchase and submitting the residency application.

In addition to the purchase price and associated legal fees, what other fees are applicable when applying for residency?

Upon completion of the purchase, a one-time stamp duty payment (at 7.5% of the purchase price, excluding chattels) to the Cayman Islands Government is required in order to conclude the registration process of the property.

Once the purchase has been registered, the immigration attorney will be in a position to submit the residency application to the Chief Immigration Officer, together with the application fee of US$610.

Once approved (typically after three months), the applicant is required to pay: (i) a one-time grant fee (either US$24,390 for a 25-Year Residency Certificate or US$121,951 for Permanent Residence); and (ii) any dependant fees (US$1,220 per dependant).

For more information on applying for long-term or permanent residence, contact Daniel Altneu at Bedell Cristin. 

To learn about Cayman Islands homes for sale and to enjoy virtual tours, contact us today.

About the author

Sue Nickason has been VP Marketing and Sales at Dart Real Estate since May 2017. Originally from Canada, Sue has worked in luxury residential-resort development in the Caribbean for over a decade. Sue and her team are committed to promoting the unique value proposition of the Cayman Islands to those seeking to establish a personal and/or corporate presence here. They serve as trusted advisors and offer exceptional service, timely market information and a warm “Caymankind” welcome. Sue earned a BA (Honours) from Mount Allison University, an MBA (Distinction) from University of Guelph and has completed studies/earned certificates in journalism, economic development, adult education, customer service, revenue management, and protocol. Sue is a member of the Christie’s International Real Estate Master’s Circle and an Angel in the 100 Women in Finance network.

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