Lief had to persuade me to go along. At first, I resisted.
He got the idea about a year ago.
“I’d like us to establish residency in the Dominican Republic,” he told me one day.
“I’d like to go through the process to find out if it’s as straightforward as my contacts on the island are telling me it is.
“Also,” Lief continued, “I’d like us to obtain DR citizenship and passports.”
Lief and I are dual nationals, holding both U.S. and Irish passports. I wasn’t sure we needed a third.
But Lief was keen, so, reluctantly, I agreed.
We spent last week in Santo Domingo, where we accomplished step one of Lief’s objective. We received our Dominican Republic residency status… and, yes, it was as straightforward an experience as we’d been assured it would be.
Now we must wait the required six months for our attorney to begin the naturalization process on our behalf. Step two of Lief’s plan is on deck.
And now I feel that I owe him an apology. Now I’m on board and sorry for my earlier negativity.
I dragged my feet when Lief suggested establishing residency in the Dominican Republic so that we could apply for citizenship in that country not only because I didn’t think we needed third passports, but also because I wasn’t sure what a DR passport gained us. It’s not one of the world’s best travel documents…
At least it hasn’t been.
However, it’s looking as though this is changing.
While in the country last week, a source there confirmed for us that a passport from the Dominican Republic is about to become a whole lot more interesting and more valuable. The country has applied for its passport to allow for visa-free travel to Europe, and, again, according to our local contact, it seems this is going to be granted.
This is not yet public knowledge and not yet a done deal, but, if this comes to pass, it’ll be a big deal. It would mean the addition of at least 26 European countries to the visa-free travel list for Dominican Republic passport holders.
In the Dominican Republic last week, Lief and I were told of other important developments relevant to our beat.
First, legislation is being proposed to make the timeline for processing residency applications shorter. The goal is to reduce the processing period from its current 45 to 60 days to as few as 30. This will be accomplished by reducing paperwork requirements and staffing up relevant government departments.
In addition, legislation is being considered to add tax exemptions to the retiree residency option. The DR is working to create its answer to Panama’s famed pensionado program.
The Dominican Republic offers both regular and what has been coined “fast-track” residency options.
Regular residency is the process undertaken by anyone who doesn’t qualify for a fast-track option. In other words, while regular residency is possible for most everyone, fast-track residency requires you to meet specific requirements.
Fast-track residency options target both retirees (pensionados) and investors.
Retirees have to show US$1,500 or more per month in retirement income. That amount is a bit more than the average U.S. Social Security check, but many individuals and most couples would qualify.
Investors must invest US$200,000 in the country. That investment can take the form of a bank CD deposit, an operating company, or property purchase (through a company).
And get this: All DR residency options come with a work permit. This fact gives this country a nice leg up over its competition and makes it an interesting option not only for retirees and investors, but also for folks of any age looking to restart their lives in a place where they can earn an income to support their intrepid adventures.
The Dominican Republic is an appealing choice for would-be entrepreneurs abroad and digital nomads for another reason, as well—its approach to taxation. The country qualifies as a tax haven for anyone running an internet or laptop business.
One more thing Lief and I learned last week, this one from personal experience:
The Dominican Republic is one jurisdiction where it’s possible to open a bank account (even as an American) in a single, hassle-free day.
In fact, it’s possible to open an account here in an hour. Lief did, at a 75-year-old bank with branches across the country and staff that so far has proven more customer service-aware than that of any other bank we currently deal with (and that includes a lot of banks).
An introduction is important. But, once introduced to the banker, you can send your paperwork in advance, so the bank can carry out all its know-your-client due diligence and process the paperwork to open the account. You must visit in person to sign the documents. As I said, Lief was in and out in an hour.
What’s more, the account you open can hold U.S. dollars as well as Dominican pesos.
The DR could be the world’s best banking haven that no one is talking about.
I’m reluctant to begin talking about it for fear of attracting attention.
That is, who could say how long this window will remain open. However, right now, the Dominican Republic checks all the boxes of an offshore haven.
Lief will pick up the conversation from here with all those assembled for this week’s Live and Invest in the Dominican Republic Conference kicking off bright and early tomorrow morning in sunny Santo Domingo.