Vanuatu, a South Pacific archipelago of some 80 islands, will now let outsiders use the volatile cryptocurrency to apply for so-called investment citizenship. Fork over the equivalent of about $280,000, and your family of up to four can receive passports from what the New Economics Foundation, a UK-based think tank, calls the fourth-happiest country in the world. (It ranked No 1 when the list was first published in 2006, but like the vagaries of the market, happiness can be a fleeting thing.)
With bitcoin reaching a record price of $5,209 on Thursday, more than five times its value at the start of the year, passports for the whole clan cost about 53.8 bitcoin.
Vanuatu isn’t the only island that offers citizenship for a price — the list includes Antigua, Grenada, Malta, and St Kitts and Nevis — but it’s the first to allow payments via bitcoin. The development was announced in a press release on Investment Migration Insider, a website focused on investment citizenry.
Vanuatu citizenship offers several advantages. The country has the 34th-most-“powerful” passport in the world, providing visa-free visits to 116 other countries, according to the Passport Index, a list of rankings maintained by Arton Capital, a company that facilitates foreign residence and citizenship applications. Vanuatu falls right below Panama and Paraguay (tied) and above Dominica; the UK is in a tie at third place, the US at fourth, and Russia at 40th.