Wealthy South Africans Seeking Foreign Citizenship Doubles In 2016

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Written by Staff

By Prinesha Naidoo / From MoneyWeb

The number of ultra high net worth South Africans seeking foreign citizenship or residence permits by investment has doubled in 2016, says Henley & Partners.

“It’s not like all those years ago when South Africans left to Australia. Now, South Africans are realising that they don’t physically have to pack up and go. They can make wise offshore investments and gain foreign passports and/or residence, and give their families more security at the same time,” said Sandra Woest, a senior partner at Henley & Partners local office.

According to Woest, 300 to 350 South Africans have approached the citizenship and residence planning firm over the past 12 months. She said this was an increase on the previous year’s queries but would not be drawn into detail as to how many people completed the process by securing either citizenship or residency abroad. She said 95% of the people she deals with do not wish to leave South Africa but rather view gaining foreign citizenship or residency as a “plan B” and a form of security against political and economic uncertainty.

“The weak rand is scaring people and while they know that they will lose out by purchasing property overseas in euros now, people are going ahead because having property, valued in a stable currency such as euros, gives them some security,” she said.

South Africans are most interested in the citizenship programmes on offer by the Malta and Cyprus and the Portugal residence programme, all of which offer some degree of access to the European Union, she said.

To gain Maltese citizenship, South Africans would have to make a real estate purchase of €350 000 or take a €16 000 annual property lease for a period of five years, purchase a €150 000 five-year government bond, and make a €650 000 government donation. She said the average South African family would have to lay out R1.2 million to R1.4 million, of which R500 000 would be returned after five years, in order secure citizenship in the island nation.

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