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The Cayman Islands’ residency-by-investment programme – the Caribbean’s best-kept secret?

Who is eligible for Cayman’s residency-by-investment programme?

Any person of independent means can apply for one of the Cayman Islands’ residency options, assuming they meet the required criteria for one of the programmes available.

Why are wealthy global families considering residency in the Cayman Islands?

Contingency residency is being considered by wealthy, global families who are concerned about political, economic or other causes of instability in their home country. The recent protests in Hong Kong, for example, and the coronavirus pandemic have brought these issues into sharp focus.

What are the main advantages of taking up residency by investment in the Cayman Islands?

The main advantages are tax neutrality, a sound economy, proximity to the USA, modern infrastructure and personal safety.

The Cayman Islands is home to one of the world’s largest international financial centres and as a result of this and its robust tourism industry, enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. In recent years the Government has reported an annual budget surplus.

The islands are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean and just 475 miles southwest of Miami, boasting a tropical climate and idyllic white sand beaches.

There are no income, corporate, recurring property, capital gains, inheritance or sales (VAT) taxes in the Cayman Islands and there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate either.

Grand Cayman is also exceptionally safe and secure, benefits from world-class healthcare and education facilities, has a wide range of luxury homes available as well as high-quality shops, services, hotels and restaurants.

If persons are interested in residency by investment, what should be their first step?

Consult with a reputable Cayman Islands law firm to establish which of the residency options would best suit your needs and objectives. There are many excellent international law firms on Grand Cayman who specialise in providing immigration services.

What are the residency options available?

There are three main options:

1. Investment Certificate for Persons of Independent Means

This option is valid for 25 years and entitles the holder to reside in the Cayman Islands without the right to work. Applicants must invest a minimum of CI$1 million, of which at least half must be in developed residential real estate in Grand Cayman. In addition, applicants need to demonstrate a continuous source of annual income of CI$120,000 or open a bank account with a Cayman Islands Monetary Authority-regulated and locally licensed institution and maintain a minimum deposit in the account of at least CI$400,000. In addition, certificate holders must spend a minimum 30 days annually in the Cayman Islands.

2. Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means

This provides the holder (and any qualifying dependents) with a lifetime right to reside in the Cayman Islands without the right to work. However, the holder or spouse can apply for a variation to the Certificate in order to obtain the right to work.

An applicant must invest a minimum of CI$2 million in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands. There is no specified minimum annual income requirement, but all applicants must be able to demonstrate that their financial resources are sufficient to maintain themselves and their dependents adequately. Certificate holders must spend at least one day a year in the Cayman Islands.

This option has no expiry date and it offers a path to naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen once the applicant has been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for five years. Naturalisation entitles the holder to a British Overseas Territories (Cayman Islands) passport and enables them to apply to register as a full British Citizen and obtain a British passport. In taking this up, there is no obligation to surrender any existing citizenships.

3. Substantial business presence

A third option, that can also open up residency in the Cayman Islands, is available to those who wish to establish a substantial business presence in the Islands.

This route is available as a long-term residence category for those who invest in, or who are employed in, a senior management capacity within an approved category of business.

This option holds the requirement that the applicant must be resident in the Islands for a minimum of 90 days in each calendar year, and they must also:

Own a minimum of 10% of the shares in an approved category of business with a substantial business presence in the Islands; or be able to prove to the satisfaction of the Chief Immigration Officer that he is or will be employed in a senior management capacity (in other words, an occupation that attracts an annual work permit fee of CI$20,925 or above) and that the employment falls within an approved category of business.

This Certificate is valid for 25 years and is renewable and entitles the holder (and any qualifying dependents) to reside in the Cayman Islands and work in the business in which they have invested or are employed in a senior management capacity.

What are the broad requirements that applicants will need to meet in order to proceed?

In Cayman, the requirements are not at all onerous and are fairly straightforward, namely that the applicant:

  • Has not had any criminal convictions
  • Is in good health
  • Has purchased locally compliant health insurance coverage
  • Can demonstrate the required financial standing
  • Have made the prescribed investment in the Cayman Islands

The detailed requirements will depend on which option you apply for and you should discuss this with your lawyer.

How can Dart Real Estate and/or Provenance Properties assist?

Our team at Dart Real Estate and Provenance Properties, the exclusive affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate in the Cayman Islands, can assist RBI applicants in fulfilling their investment requirements by providing access to the most desirable properties in the Cayman Islands, ranging from turnkey apartments on beautiful Seven Mile Beach to luxurious private estates.

Dart Real Estate and Provenance Properties can also assist you with everything you need to make a move to Cayman including exclusive VIP service, proprietary market data, and introductions to local service providers.

What about commercial space for my business in Cayman?

Dart Real Estate’s commercial leasing team manages over 800,000 square feet of Class-A and Class-B office, retail, and commercial space in strategic locations across the Cayman Islands. Our flagship development at Camana Bay is located at the very heart of Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach corridor and is Cayman’s most prestigious business address. Dart Real Estate has also recently launched readyspaces at Regatta Office Park on Grand Cayman; flexible, turnkey office space that’s ready when you are and starting from US$1,500 per month.

Are you interested in the Cayman Islands, but not sure where to start?

Contact Sue Nickason, VP of Real Estate Marketing and Sales for more information.