Vanuatu is a beautiful, Y-shaped archipelago that consists of 83 islands and covers more than 12,000 square kilometers. It is located approximately 1,700 kilometers east of the Australian coastline. In 2006, Vanuatu was voted “The Happiest Place on Earth,” because of its amazing white sandy beaches, beautiful volcanoes that are still active today, untouched lagoons and rainforests, consistent sunny weather, and a large abundance of various indigenous cultures, making it one of the most culturally diverse countries found anywhere on the globe. Combine that with no foreign exchange control, no income tax, as well as an independent judiciary, and Vanuatu becomes the premier location for investment right in the center of the South Pacific. Not only that, but current social and political problems occurring on other South Pacific islands, such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea have turned investors toward Vanuatu as a highly viable alternative.
A Bit about the Benefits of Investing in Vanuatu
Vanuatu boasts a very beneficial tax regime which is further enhanced by a number of unique features when compared with other finance centers. First of all, there is no income tax throughout all of Vanuatu. This includes exchange controls, death duties, withholding tax, and capital gains tax. Money can be easily transferred into any of the major currencies. The financial center in the country has been in existence for just about forty years. With a strong infrastructure of established trust companies, accountants, banks, and lawyers, it provides the opportunity to investors to receive top quality, reliable service right on the spot.
The country also has a democratically elected government that is strongly dedicated to promoting new investments and assisting large investments in many pursuits as much as possible. Recently, the government passed the Strata Titled Act to make it much easier for investors to invest in the country and receive a reasonable chance of a positive return. The government has also streamlined customs, immigration procedures, and the foreign investment board to ensure all formalities regarding investing and residency are painless. Vanuatu’s government is extremely pro foreign direct investment and offers low labor costs. The government is very interested in investment opportunities in the industries of timber products, forestry, fishing, agriculture, and tourism. Tourism is one of the largest industries to invest in throughout Vanuatu. Now that the country is established as a very attractive tourist destination for people all around the world, there is much potential in the way of quick growth. It is a primary holiday destination for those looking for a bit of rest and relaxation. There are a number of funds that have been created to aid in the promotion as well as development of the tourism industry.
Here are some other great benefits associated with investing in Vanuatu:
- Investors do not need to be a resident of the country or have employment to purchase residential or commercial property and then generate income from the property.
- Unlike the nearest competitors in the South Pacific tourism sector, like New Caledonia and Fiji, Vanuatu does not have any colonialist or ethnic problems. While not everyone in the country gets along 100 percent of the time, the relations between all island people are great.
- The crime rate is extremely low and terrorism is an unheard of action across the island nation.
- The ni-Vanuatu natives are always happy to work with real estate investors because the investors can only lease land, meaning the natives continue to benefit from a generated income, no matter how modest it may be.
There is a great opportunity to make money through investments in Vanuatu. The majority of people and companies that do invest here are looking for a natural, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere where there are minimal hassles.
How to Invest in Vanuatu
For those looking to invest in Vanuatu, it is important to receive approval from the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority, or VIPA. VIPA is the same as Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), and it authorizes any new investments made in the country of Vanuatu. After a company has been granted approval by VIPA, approvals for a residency permit, business, license, as well as work permit are easy to obtain.
When filling out the application for VIPA, there is a list of information that is required to provide. This includes copies of the passports for all investors, details and evidence regarding the financial level of the investment, a chart of the company structure, copies of certificates of police clearance, bank reference, projections of cash flow for the next three years, full employment details for anywhere work permits are required and how many work permits will be needed, an environmental impact assessment if required, how many residency permits will be needed, and disclosure of any bankruptcies, liquidations, and convictions. VIPA has also made the foreign investment process much more streamlined by doing away with regular approval meetings and instead going for an approval process that occurs right on the spot once applications are completed. Investors must also apply to renew their certificate on an annual basis.
Vanuatu is a beautiful island nation that is extremely enticing with its beautiful sights and diverse culture. However, it is also one of the best locations for investment as well in today’s current economic climate. Vanuatu offers all interested investors a very stable political environment and a consistent commitment demonstrated from the government dedicated to the growth of the country. Aside from a very unique tax haven status, many investors are able to rest assured that both the central bank and the government have proven track records when it comes to a sound monetary and fiscal policy. The commitment made by the authorities looking to promote Vanuatu as a safe destination for business has enabled the country to rise to the top, above all other Pacific island nations in the 2011 International Finance Corporation’s “Doing Business Report.” It is extremely rare to find a unique combination of a tropical paradise mixed with a fiscal paradise, but it does exist in Vanuatu.