If you’re thinking of getting a second passport, we’re sure you have questions. Don’t worry. We have answers about what it takes and we’re sharing them here.
The world can be an unsettling place these days, no matter where you live. And if you only have citizenship in one country, you may have started looking for other options. Sure, you’ve considered getting a second passport. But citizenship can be a confusing maze of forms and requirements. Let us help you make the smart choice for you, your family and your investments.
Second Passport: Where to begin?
The first place to start is choosing a country (or possibly two for comparison) that satisfies your requirements. Things like:
- Do you plan to live in the country for any length of time first?
- Would your family want to move there, if that were necessary?
- Is the country financially stable, and would protect your investments and assets?
- Can you get your second passport within a timeframe that works for you?
These are all questions you should answer fully before beginning the process.
Citizenship vs. Residency
Before getting into the details of the different countries, there are key legal concepts to understand:
- Citizenship: rights conferred to a person, either through birth or naturalization
- Residency: the legal ability to live in the country, but does not come with the same rights as citizenship
- Citizenship is typically granted at the end of a successful period of residency
There can be some very strict requirements about becoming a resident. Many countries have a physical residency period that’s measured in years. But, some of them don’t. Some have little to no requirement for living in the country before granting your dual citizenship.
Choosing a country
While securing your assets and investments may be your primary motivation, there are other things to consider.
Climate and culture
For your family’s comfort, it’s important to look at things that are outside the citizenship process.
- Is the weather similar (or better) than your home country?
- Will you need to learn a new language immediately, to travel comfortably within that country?
- Is the culture of the new country a good match for your family?
- Is there a good education system (if your children are under 18)?
Travel to other countries
As you’ve probably noticed, travel from country to country isn’t always easy. And, it’s likely that these restrictions won’t ease in the future. The rules could even become more difficult. Make sure to review all the travel options that may or may not come with your second passport.
You not only want to protect your assets, but to continue to grow them. Choosing a country that offers no tax on worldwide income can help. Currently, there are only four countries that offer that unique benefit.
In addition to making an investment, your net worth will also be considered as part of your application. Similar to the other requirements, the minimum amount required varies by country.
It’s also important to know if the country you’re considering allows dual citizenship. If not, you would be required to relinquish your home citizenship during the process.
Citizenship by investment
There are a number of countries that offer citizenship by investment programs (CIP). Each country has slightly different amounts of capital you must invest, and when (or if) you get that money back. They also require different lengths of residency time, from zero up to ten years.
Each country’s investment requirement varies by:
- The amount of capital stipulated
- The type of investment
- The length of time the money needs to remain invested (if applicable)
If you choose a program that returns your investment, be aware that most do not include any accrued interest. Some countries also offer options for direct investment in assets like real estate.
Countries with no residency requirements
St. Kitts and Nevis
A tropical paradise in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis have had citizenship by investment in place since 1984. Located near Puerto Rico, this tiny island country offers visa-free travel to more than 100 countries. Their investment program has no physical residency requirement. Another appealing feature is the ability to include dependent family members. Children under 25 or parents/grandparents over 65 can also be covered by your application.
Another small island country, Grenada offers similar benefits:
- No physical residency
- Dependent family members can be included
One additional benefit is the Investor Visa (E-2 Treaty) with the United States. This allows citizens of Grenada to reside in the US and operate a business there.
Short residency requirements
If you’re able to live for an amount of time in the country you’ve chosen, there are other opportunities available.
While it may not be a tropical paradise, Bulgaria’s location in Southeast Europe provides other benefits. As a citizen, you would enjoy unrestricted travel within the EU. You would also have the right to own land in an EU country. Residency in Bulgaria is a fast process, just 6-9 months. Citizenship can be fast-tracked within two years.
Another EU member country, Hungary offers an investment program similar to Bulgaria.
Key differences include:
- No age restrictions on dependent family members
- EU permanent residency in as little as 30 days with their streamlined process
Named the Golden Visa or Golden Resident Permit, Portugal has a simplified program for non-EU investors. Permanent residency normally takes 5 years of temporary residency first. With the Golden Visa, your residency requirement is shortened to 7 days in the first year, 14 days per year after that. Portugal citizenship investment also offers a variety of options, from job creation to arts or research.
Quebec’s investor program does restrict you to living in the province of Quebec. But, Quebec is the largest province in Canada and is home to Montreal. Canada is a member of the G8 and NAFTA, too. But, it does have one of the longer citizenship residency requirements: three years.
Getting help you can trust
Not only is the process complicated, but you may be wondering who you can trust to help you. We’ve helped more than 5,000 clients worldwide, from 115 different countries. Don’t just take our word for it, read their testimonials about our services. When you’re ready to get your second passport, we’re here to help you start the process.