MONTENEGRO COUNTRY PROFILE
Overview Known as the pearl of the Balkans, Montenegro is geographically located in a strategic position and as such is renowned for being multinational and multilingual. Bordering Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosova, Albania, Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, the country boasts 23 municipalities. Known for being a safe and secure environment, this small European country may not yet be a member of the EU, but will probably be so by 2025 (it has applied for membership), however it is a member state of the European Monetary Union, the NATO Alliance, OSCE and the WTO. The country offers political and economic stability.
Education and health Montenegro’s elementary education consists of eight years of schooling between the ages of 7 and 15, which is free and compulsory. Secondary schools are divided into three types, including Gymnasiums, which offer broad education to prep for university; professional schools specialising in certain fields; and vocational schools focusing on hands-on skills. There is one public university and two private ones. Life expectancy in Montenegro is between 74-79 years of age. The country has one of the highest tobacco usage rates across Europe and further has ‘the most backward health system in Europe’, according to the Health Consumer Powerhouse. Public health services are financed through the country’s Health Insurance Fund, which citizens pay into via their salaries (10.5%). Montenegro has 19 health centres and 10 hospitals with the Podgorica Clinical Center in the capital the main public hospital.
Transport Montenegro may be a small and, in parts, rural country, but it does offer both affordable and effective transportation. Montenegro delivers an extensive road network, including motorways and main roads, however only a third of roads are paved and those that are paved are not built to the standards of western Europe; however, the Sozina tunnel effectively and quickly connects the capital with the coast. The country boasts a rail network offering international rail connections towards Serbia along with a domestic railway line with four main stations and Montenegro’s bus lines connect all of its cities. Montenegro offers two international airports, both reconstructed in 2006, including one in the capital Podgorica, which offers direct flights to 28 destinations in 17 countries.
Lifestyle Montenegro ranges from high mountain peaks in the north to its stunning Adriatic coastline featuring 72km of beaches. The country is listed annually by prestigious tourism guides as a top tourist destination due to its stunning seaside scenery. Its rugged mountains are equally impressive with hiking, horse riding, mountain biking and kayaking popular activities. The country offers one of the world’s finest yachting marinas, Porto Montenegro, and a primaeval forest, Biogradska Gora. While football is the most popular sport in Montenegro, water polo is considered to be the national sport with the country’s national team one of the top ranked teams worldwide.
Climate Montenegro boasts a Mediterranean climate on the coast and an alpine one in the mountains. The country’s average summer coastal temperature is 27C, while average winter temperature is 7C.
Population 622,359 (2018)
Languages While the official language is Montenegrin, only 37% speak the language, with Serbian the most popular language (42.9%) and Albanian (5.3%) and Serbo-Croat (2%) also spoken.
Religion The majority are Orthodox Christians (71.1%), following by Muslim (19.1%) with the remaining Catholic.
Capital City Podgorica
GDP Per Capita US$5.504 billion (2018)
Economy Classified by the World Bank as an upper middle-income country, Montenegro is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies in the Balkans and is a strategic destination for some of the world’s most important industries. Mainly service-based (72.4% of GDP in 2007), industry and agriculture make up the rest. Montenegro is ripe for overseas investment and is the only country in the Balkans to increase its amount of direct foreign investment. Montenegro is becoming known as a place to invest due to its security, stability and mobility. It has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in the world, fixed at just 9-11%. While Montenegro was an elite tourist hotspot in the 80s, the Yugoslav wars damaged its tourism, but the country has been growing its tourism again, since 2000, and it now accounts for around a fifth of the economy. Tourism is now a priority of the government to develop tourism and make it a major contributor to its economy.
Did you know…? From 2019 onwards, tourists and citizens of Montenegro were introduced to a new type of public transport: two new hybrid trimarans which travel through Boka Bay, from Kotor through Perast and Tivat to Herceg Novi. The fuel used is 100% solar energy. This year, 2020, eight more of these were expected, although are currently on hold due to Covid-19.
MONTENEGRO CBI PROGRAMME
- Minimum outlay €350,000
- Processing time 3 months
- Residency or travel requirements None
- Freedom of movement 124 countries
- Investment Options 2
Overview The newest citizenship by investment programme on the CBI block, the Montenegro Special Citizenship by Investment Program (MSCIP) was launched in November 2019. Temporarily put on hold for four months following its launch, it became active once more in May 2020. However, it is now being closed down by the EU and will end at the end of 2021, though there’s still time to get on board. Similar to the Caribbean countries, investors need to invest in government-approved real estate projects, and they are also asked to make a donation to the government. The CBI program is currently limited to 2,000 applicants and will close once the quota has been reached.
Pros It is certainly one of the most affordable and quickest routes to potentially gaining a European passport in the future. While not yet in the EU, Montenegro is an official EU candidate country. Citizenship is granted to the main applicant, along with the spouse, children and dependent children over 18. Montenegro enjoys a low cost of living along with a Mediterranean climate and a safe and secure environment. There is no need to know the language, nor reside in Montenegro either before, during or after completion of citizenship. It is a quick route for you and your children go gain a US visa as Montenegrin citizens can access the E-2 Treaty Program, allowing them to live, work and do business within the US within three months. Montenegro has been Covid-free since May 24, 2020. Finally, Montenegro has some of the cheapest property prices in Europe.
Cons As the newest on the CBI block, it has not yet been truly tried or tested so the jury is out. Montenegro is not yet part of the European Union. More expensive than most Caribbean CIPs, Montenegro doesn’t offer as good freedom of movement as the Caribbean islands do. The healthcare offer isn’t as great as many other countries.
USP Currently, the cheapest and quickest route to second citizenship within Europe.
Ease of processing The program claims to offer a stringent vetting and due diligence process, which includes background checks, but is also simple, transparent and straightforward. From filling out the application form to securing the passport, it takes approximately three months and no residency in Montenegro is required, either prior to or after the granting of citizenship. There is no need for applicants to speak the language or to have particular educational or management qualifications or experiences.
Freedom of movement Gives applicants visa-free access to 124 countries, including the European Union, Russia, Singapore and Turkey, though not the UK, US, China, Canada or Japan. Montenegro is expected to join the European Union in 2025 and with that, its passport will of course become much more valuable. Due to the E-2 Treaty Program that was signed between Montenegro and the US, if you have a Montenegrin passport, you can live and work in the US under an E-2 Investor Visa.
Investment options 2
MONTENEGRO CBI INVESTMENTS
In addition to a donation to the government fund, applicants must make an investment in government-approved real estate, which includes a list of four hotels, including the Condo Hotel Breza in Kolasin and the Durmitor Hotel and Villas in Zabliak.
Option 1 A donation of €100,000 to Montenegro’s government fund (which is being used to fund the advancement of underdeveloped areas) plus an investment of €250,000 in government-approved real estate in the less developed area of Montenegro, which is the northern or central region and cannot include the country’s capital, Podgorica. Additional fees include a government fee of €100,000 along with an application fee of €15,000 for the main applicant, €10,000 for up to four family members and €50,000 for each further family member.
Option 2 A donation of €100,000 to Montenegro’s government fund, plus an investment of €450,000 in government-approved real estate which can be in the capital Podgorica or in the more developed and popular coastal resorts of the country. Investment opportunities include in hotels, resorts, IT parks and commercial real estate. Additional fees as in Option 1.
MONTENEGRO CBI RANKINGS
Passport Ranking (Henley Passport Index 2021) 47 / 116
CBI Programme Ranking (CBI Index 2021, Financial Times) 61% / 9th out of 14 countries
Ease of doing business Ranking (Doing Business 2021, The World Bank) 50 / 190
Economic Freedom (2020 Index of Economic Freedom) 80 / 178
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