Jan 13, 2020

Moving to Montenegro with the citizenship by investment program: a complete guide

If you are thinking of changing the country of your residence, Montenegro might not be among the first few destinations that you are considering. A closer look at the country, however, may make you change your mind and give Montenegro a chance to become your new home.

Below we provide a concise but complete guide on relocating to Montenegro with the help of the ‘citizenship by investment’ Government program. We will cite some advice from the recent expats to the country, refer to some official statistics, and quote a few recommendations from the immigration agencies. We hope that this information will help you decide if Montenegro is the country where you would like to live.

‘Black Mountain’, or Montenegro, is a country with a dynamic economy on the Adriatic coast that attracts thousands of immigrants every year. They find that they feel comfortable indeed residing there. Relocation is a tough endeavor, however, and it will inevitably tell on the expat’s lifestyle to a large degree.

If you would like to move to Montenegro in 2020, you have to make up a long list of items to be taken into consideration. How to file the application for residence and/ or full citizenship? How much the relocation is going to cost? What company should you hire to transport your belongings to Montenegro? These and many other questions have to be answered before you start the re-domiciliation process.

Moving to Montenegro is a wonderful option for many people. But if you have not been to this country before, you are going to find a number of surprising things on your arrival.

A lot of planning and a lot of patience are the first two vital relocation instruments that you need. In addition to that, you have to have a rather large sum of money on your account especially if you are going to make use of the ‘citizenship by investment’ route.

This practical guide will take you through the relocation process and hopefully help you avoid certain pitfalls and eliminate many possible problems that potentially could give you bad headaches. Please use this text as your relocation manual and make moving to Montenegro as easy as it can only be. But remember that it cannot be totally effortless in any case!

This complete guide will tell you how to reach Montenegro, how to choose the transportation company, what legal requirements you have to meet in order to enter the country, and other things that you have to know before packing your suitcases.

Moving to a foreign country should not be a hasty decision. You have to learn as much as you can about the country of your prospective new residence in order to have a better understanding of what living there feels like. Do you have friends of relations residing in Montenegro? Great if you do! Do you simply like the region? Not bad either. But do dig deeper into the issue and try to uncover the hidden pitfalls and possible obstacles that might appear in your way. This guide on moving to the Balkan state of Montenegro should help you foresee some such pitfalls and obstacles.

Make a plan of moving to Montenegro with the citizenship by investment program

If you have itchy feet and you think Montenegro is an attractive destination for relocation, please do not rush to move to the country for life until you acquaint yourself with some of its specifics. To make moving to Montenegro a pleasurable experience for you and your family you have to prepare for this move carefully. Here is what we suggest that you do prior to making the ultimate decision:

  1. It is highly advisable to go on a ‘reconnoitering expedition’ to Montenegro to obtain a feeling of the country. Depending on your country of residence, you may have to have a tourist visa to visit the place.
  2. Compare different cities and towns in Montenegro. Both the terrain and the climate are quite diverse in the country. There are no megalopolises there but you will certainly find larger and smaller cities in Montenegro.
  3. Check the real estate prices in the country and recon how much it is going to cost you to buy a satisfactory house or apartment in Montenegro. Generally, the prices are lower in the northern part of the country and higher in the southern part.
  4. Investigate the possibility to establish a business company in Montenegro. If you are a professional, try to find out what job opportunities exist in the country for you.
  5. If you have children of school age, do check local schools. Most of them will naturally use Montenegrin or Serbian as the language of instruction but there are a few international schools in the country as well.
  6. Marriage to a Montenegrin citizen, investment into real estate in the county, and establishment of a business company there are the three most common ways of acquiring Montenegrin citizenship. Think if one of these routes will suit your purposes well.
  7. If you can afford investing from 250,000 EUR into a resort property approved by the Montenegrin Government and donating additional 100,000 EUR to the state fund, you will qualify for the ‘citizenship by investment’ immigration program.
  8. Bear in mind that making an investment is not enough for acquiring a residence permit in Montenegro. Another important factor is collecting all the necessary application documents. These may have to be apostilled in some cases. 
  9. Remember that you cannot acquire Montenegrin citizenship in an instant. Expect that the processing of your application for legal residence may take the country authorities weeks or even months.
  10. Decide which of your belongings you want to take to Montenegro with you. It may be too expensive to move some of your possessions to a new country. Selling your car, for example, and buying a new one in Montenegro could work out cheaper than keeping your old car if you take the customs duties into account.  
  11. Choose a reliable transportation company to move your things to Macedonia.
  12. Keep your travel bags light until you find a place for permanent residence in the country.

How you can reach Montenegro

There are two international airports in Montenegro: one in the capital city of Pòdgorica and the other one in Tivat. If you are moving to the coastal part of the country, you will be advised to fly to Tivat.

The Pòdgorica gateway will usually suit those who are planning to reside in the mountain areas of Montenegro away from the Adriatic coast. However, this option is also suitable for those who want to live in Kotor after purchasing residential accommodations in Kraljičina Plaža resort facility. The Government of Montenegro lists this property among the officially approved development projects that qualify for the ‘citizenship by investment’ program.

There is also an international airport in Dubrovnik, the capital of the neighboring country of Croatia. The western part of Montenegro is easily accessible via the Croatian border. Many tourists use this route when they go to the Montenegrin sea resorts. If you opt for Dubrovnik, however, you have to take into consideration the legal issues connected with the visit to one more foreign country on your way to your final destination.  

Even if you arrive to Montenegro by air, your belongings will arrive to the country by land or sea in all likelihood. The country is easily accessible by sea and there are three large seaports there: in Bar, in Kotor, and in Zelenika. The Adriatic Sea is connected with the Ionic Sea, which is connected with the Mediterranean Sea in its turn. Thus, the water route will be convenient for people coming from the countries located in that region. If you are coming from a neighboring country such as Croatia, Greece, or Serbia, you can easily reach Montenegro by land and bring your things over in a truck.

Choosing the company to transport your belonging to Montenegro

You have to hire a reliable company that will take care of transporting your things from your home country to Montenegro. You have several options to choose from. We recommend hiring an international transportation company that provides services in Montenegro. Here are three such companies:

  • A1 Auto Transport is an international company that provides the full range of transportation services. It specializes in transporting auto vehicles but it will also move other things around the globe.
  • AGS Podgorica offers both transportation and storage services. It transports things by land, by air, and by sea.
  • Allied Pickfords is a global company that assists large corporations in relocation of their employees to foreign countries.

Practice shows that when moving your personal belongings in large quantities to faraway places it makes good sense to spend considerable effort on choosing the best transportation company available. You do not want your things to get lost on the way to Montenegro, do you?

Important legal obligations that you have to meet on your arrival to Montenegro

If you do not have a Montenegrin residence permit and you are going to stay in the country with your friends, for example, you have to register at the local police station within 24 hours from your arrival to Montenegro.

This requirement does not apply if you are staying at a hotel. The hotel administration will have your passport details and they will register you with the police on their own. You also do not have to register on your arrival to Montenegro in case you own real property in the country and/ or have a legal residence permit, or a Montenegrin passport.

Montenegro visa requirements

Citizens from the following parts of the world do not need a visa in order to enter Montenegro:

  • Europe;
  • North America;
  • Most countries of Central and South America;
  • Australia, New Zealand and some Asian Pacific countries.
  • A few Middle East countries

Other nationalities do require a visa that they can obtain from a Montenegrin embassy or consulate. At the same time, holders of a Schengen visa are free to enter Montenegro and stay there for 90 days whichever country they come from.

This timeframe should be sufficient for applying for residency in Montenegro via the ‘citizenship by investment’ Government program and maybe even for obtaining the application approval. The latter is not guaranteed, however. The more time and effort you spend on preparing for relocation to Montenegro the better your chances will be to stay within these time limits.

Montenegro security

Some national governments warn their citizens going to Montenegro that there may be some security issues in this country. It must be admitted that there are certain extremism problems in Montenegro and terrorist attack sometimes happen in tourist areas. 

At the same time, such attacks occur very rarely and the general crime rate in Montenegro is very low. Violent crimes hardly ever happen and it is safe to walk along the streets of Montenegrin cities at any time of the day and night. Of course, pickpocketing exists everywhere and Montenegro is not an exception. But as the saying goes “He who fears every bush should not go a-birding”.  

Montenegro agreements on avoidance of double taxation

Taxes in Montenegro are comparatively low and relocating there may allow you to lessen your tax burden especially if you are a tax resident in a first-world country. However, if you reside in Montenegro for tax purposes and do business in the countries that have not signed the double taxation avoidance agreements with Montenegro, you are most likely to be taxed in both (or several) jurisdictions. This is an important factor to consider if you are engaged or plan to be engaged in international business.

Montenegro has agreements on double taxation avoidance with the following national states:

  • Albania
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Belarus
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Korea, South
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

Agreements with six more countries are currently pending and they are expected to be signed in the nearest future.

Language requirements in Montenegro  

Currently, there are no definitive requirements to the expats to Montenegro to have command of the national language. Why is it so? Because the situation with the national language in the country is not quite clear so far.

Even though Montenegrin is recognized as the official language, only about one third of the population claim that their native tongue is Montenegrin. The matter is that this language is a variation or a dialect of Serbian and many ethnographers insists that Montenegrins are essentially Serbs or of Serb origin otherwise. Thus, the Serbian language is also a native language in Montenegro or at least some political forces claim that it is.

In addition to Montenegrin and Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Bosnian, and other South European languages are widely spoken in the country. Many young people in Montenegro speak English so you will easily find your way around when you come to the country. However, the language of the official documents is still Montenegrin (Serbian?) and you will have to master this language to a certain degree if you decide that you want to live in Montenegro for the rest of your life.

This is a Slavic language and it may appear quite hard to learn if your native tongue is of a different language group. However, mastering a foreign language is far from impossible: a vast number of contemporary Europeans speak several languages, for example. Montenegrin uses Cyrillic and Roman alphabets alternatively.

Moving to Montenegro with the citizenship by investment program: conclusions

Montenegro borders on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, and Kosovo. It is a small country of less than 14,000 square kilometers (5,400 square miles) and the population below 650,000 people. But it is a very cozy little country on the coast of the wonderful, warm, and transparent Adriatic Sea. If you move to Montenegro, you will love its nature and its slow-paced lifestyle. This country is a true pearl of Southeast Europe.

The climate of Montenegro is warm and sunny, the people are friendly, and the Government is supportive of small- and medium-size business. These factors attract a large number of foreigners who come to stay in Montenegro forever.

It goes without saying, however, that relocating to another country can be quite a stressful experience. To make it as painless as possible we suggest that you should do the following:

  • Make up a step-by-step relocation plan.
  • Find a place to rent in Montenegro until you find a house or an apartment to buy.
  • Hire a reliable transportation company to move your belongings to your new home country.
  • Acquire assistance in filing the application for residence or citizenship with the Montenegrin authorities. If you do so at an early stage, you can avoid a number of possible errors as well as waste of money, time, and efforts.
  • Learn about the legal and the tax conditions that will apply to your personal situation.

Of course, there are other aspects that may be of no lesser importance. If you have children, you have to think about their education in Montenegro. If you are going to engage in commercial activities in the country, you have to learn the specifics of the local banking system, and so on.

It would also be a good idea to try to find an internet forum where your former fellow citizens-expats to Montenegro (virtually) meet. They should be able to give you sensible advice on how to better organize your relocation to Montenegro. Everyone makes mistakes and it is always better to learn by others’ mistakes rather than your own. Besides, it would certainly be advantageous to have a friend who you could meet in person when you come to Montenegro.

Have you already decided to move to the Balkans and acquire Montenegrin citizenship in exchange for investment in the country’s economy? If yes, please contact us and we will gladly help you with the legal, administrative, and organizational issues. If you are undecided yet, please contact us anyway to obtain more information about this and other relocation possibilities. Send your queries to [email protected] and our specialists will provide clear and exhaustive consultations to you. With our assistance, relocating to Montenegro (or any other place, for that matter) is going to be simple.