Lap dances. Horseback rides. Wine tours. A night with a Las Vegas escort.
You can buy just about anything with Bitcoin these days.
Now, you can add citizenship to that list.
Introducing: Passports for Bitcoin, a project that sets clients up with citizenship to balmy Caribbean island-nation St. Kitts and Nevis, payable in cryptocurrency. St. Kitts and Nevis has offered a ‘citizenship by investment’ program since 1984 that accepts investment into the local economy in exchange for a spanking-new passport.
The process, which takes 3 to 4 months, isn’t cheap. Wannabe citizens must either buy local real estate worth $400,000 or more, or donate at least $250,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) – on top of a nonrefundable application fee of about $60,000 per applicant plus an additional $30,000 for each one of his or her dependents.
For those who can afford it, though, holding a St. Kitts passport offers a number of benefits. Aside from the stunning seas, sands, and climate offered by the Caribbean country, St. Kitts doesn’t take any income, wealth, or inheritance taxes; citizens get visa-free travel to 140 countries and a 10-year multiple-entry visa to the United States.
For clients from politically tumultuous countries or ones with invasive policies on individual privacy, the citizenship process offers more abstract benefits: freedom and privacy.
“Today’s news headlines are filled with stories from around the globe about upheaval, increased taxes, and governments exerting more and more control over citizens’ freedoms and privacy,” the Passports for Bitcoin website says. “Having a second citizenship and passport in a stable country is now a must in order to hedge against governmental intrusion and excessive taxation.”
Additionally, the process is confidential – home countries aren’t notified that their citizens have applied for or received a second citizenship.
Exactly how many clients have bought a St. Kitts passport with Bitcoin isn’t clear. The website of the project’s parent company, International Investments & Consulting, Ltd., says it has processed over 100 applications, though it does not specify how they were paid for.
It’s clear, though, that the option is popular amongst the rich and famous. Roger Ver, an American Bitcoin entrepreneur and ‘angel investor’ in Bitcoin startups, has bought himself a passport to St. Kitts, as has as the so-called “Most Interesting Man on Instagram” millionaire/poker player/playboy Dan Bilzerian.
“I became a St. Kitts citizen several years ago as a hedge against possible world political turmoil which could negatively affect the United States,” Bilzerian wrote in a testimonial on the Passports for Bitcoin website. “I value freedom more than almost anything else and a second or third passport provides me insurance just in case the U.S. government decides to value security over freedom.”
The founder of Russian social network site Vkontakte, Pavel Durov, also bought St. Kitts citizenship last month after fleeing the country under pressure from the government over data protection and privacy.
It is unclear whether Durov paid for his passport in Bitcoin.