There are different ways of getting an additional passport in a totally legal way, and there are many reasons to do so. This article will explain why in more detail.
Do you think that you have to settle with your nationality forever just because you were born in a certain place? Do you think that we all have to choose just one country for our whole lives?
In all truth, you are not the only person to think so. But in reality, it does not matter if you are Irish, British, German, Spanish, Canadian or any other nationality, it is you who gets to choose the citizenship that suits you best.
You should not let a piece of paper hold you back.
Nationality: expectations and reality
Before the outbreak of the First World War – just over a hundred years ago – there were hardly any passports. People could travel with virtually no restrictions and settle in any country they wanted without any major problems. A lot has changed since then, to the detriment of most of us. Today, we are all tied to a piece of paper known as a passport, which reduces each and every one of us to a single number.
However, we do not have to resign ourselves to the fact that a passport, which we acquire simply by being born – fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask – in a specific country, determines our whole life.
Citizenship may be legally regulated through our passports, but our true nationality is in our mentality. Many foreigners living in our home country certainly have a way of being more in line with standard conventions, even if they do not have the nationality. And by contrast, many of us natives find ourselves feeling as if we don’t belong to our home country, despite having the nationality. There are those who feel they belong to other countries and others who feel they don’t belong anywhere. They call themselves citizens of the world, stateless in mind, people who are free from the burden of the state.
Why take on an additional nationality?
What starts in the mind does not have to end in reality. Those who are not satisfied with what fate gave them at birth have several options to change. We are not only talking about changing your mindset, but also about changing your reality by taking on other citizenships.
Many people are not even aware of it, but they may potentially be entitled to apply for a second passport, i.e., they can get a second nationality. Depending on your country of origin, it is often even possible to be a citizen of multiple countries. Only some countries, such as Singapore or Saudi Arabia, explicitly prohibit this, but even in those countries, it is still possible to renounce your nationality, in order to get a new one. Which nationality you belong to is entirely up to you.
Nationalities are but a means to an end. They are your tools on your journey to a free and happy life.
If you are Mexican, Argentinian or Spanish for example, you will be able to get a second nationality in Latin America without any problems. With an EU passport, you will find yourself in the same situation if you decide to take on other EU nationalities.
Depending on your original nationality, the procedures required to retain your passport may vary. In some cases, especially if have not used the passport of one of your nationalities for a long time, you may have to apply to keep your citizenship at some point.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “ok, very well, but I thought that second passports were only for spies and millionaires”. Specifically, “how can I get another nationality without having millions in the bank, and why should I go to the effort of getting one?”
If you take the time to read the Tax Free Today blog and to study the Flag Theory, you probably already know the answer. Rather than being at the mercy of the whims of a single country, the best thing to do is to spread your risks across two or more countries. As in business, it is undoubtedly preferable not to let yourself be misguided simply because of a possible sense of belonging and obligation to any one country.
A second passport doesn’t tie you to several countries by making you a servant to more states, but rather it expands your options internationally and allows you to make a choice.
Having a second passport can increase your mobility, as well as being an insurance against possible diplomatic or economic crises in your country or origin.
Americans, for example, are finding it increasingly difficult to open bank accounts abroad due to laws such as the FATCA law. With a second passport, they can avoid this problem.
Another advantage for Americans is that by renouncing their American nationality, they can finally escape their tax authorities, since the United States is the only country in the world – apart from the tiny African state of Eritrea – that taxes its own citizens on the basis of their nationality, regardless of their place of residence.
1,335 US citizens resorted to renouncing their passport in the first quarter of 2015, despite the unbelievably arbitrary exit tax increase (to more than $2,300) and the interrogation that you are subjected to by the US Administration when doing so.
4 options for getting an additional nationality
In general, there are 4 options for getting a new nationality, and with it, a second passport.
1. Through investment or donations (Economic Citizenship)
If you have the necessary means, you can get a new passport quickly and easily. The Economic Citizenship allows you to get a new nationality through one of two ways: either by investing in the country, or by paying a one-off fee (donation).
Depending on the programme, the investment should be made through companies and/or local real estate. Although these are probably not the most lucrative investments, they will pay off in the long run, because they will increase your wealth while making it easier for you to achieve your real goal: a second passport.
There were – and still are – some countries that offer these programmes. However, they are often suspended for short periods of times, closed altogether, or reopened without anyone realising. This makes it difficult for anyone who is interested to find the right option for them, which is why we published our Encyclopaedia for Second Nationalities.
Costs vary considerably. There are cases that require investments of millions, but there are also many other cases where 200,000 USD is enough. There have been instances, such as the Comoros, a small Muslim archipelago in the Indian Ocean and one of the poorest countries in the world, where an investment of 50,000 USD was enough to obtain citizenship. The Comoros programme has since come to an end, but the COVID crisis will undoubtedly lead to many countries offering new programmes at very competitive prices.
One of the best-known nationalities by investment or donation programmes is without a doubt the Caribbean state of Saint Kitts and Nevis, although it is no longer widely recommended. Due to fake passports, their programme has fallen into disrepute, and it seems that the United States is subjecting people who want to enter into their country with a Saint Kitts and Nevis passport to exhaustive checks, and in some cases, not letting them in at all.
Well-known Bitcoin investor Roger Ver was denied entry into his home country. It is not entirely clear whether this was due to his new nationality or due to the fact he had given up his previous nationality.
Moreover, the investment of up to 400,000 USD in overpriced properties makes the Saint Kitts programme one of the most expensive.
On the other hand, both the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda as well as Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) often offer much cheaper options, which are just as good, if not better.
Dominican nationals, for example, have recently been granted visa-free travel to Europe, a change that greatly enhances the value of their passport.
Lastly, freedom to travel is one of the most important aspects to bear in mind when deciding on a nationality, especially if your original passport did not give you much freedom of movement.
Other relevant aspects are tax exemption on foreign earnings, reputation and international status, whether the country extradites citizens to other countries, or simply the geographical location and quality of life if you are seeking refuge in the country in case of future crises or wars.
2. Living abroad and waiting
The most common method of acquiring residence will allow you to become a citizen after a few years in the destination country. After receiving permanent residence status, you will have to wait and only leave the country if it does not cause your status to expire. The time frame for becoming an official citizen can vary greatly, and depending on the country, ranges from 2 to 20 years.
In order to obtain a permanent residence permit in the first instance, you usually have to meet certain requirements (which, naturally, we discuss more in depth in our Encyclopaedia for Emigrants). This can range from simply proving a certain income to setting up a business that ensures a certain number of job positions. Similarly, other requirements that vary are the requirement to know the local language, to know the country’s culture or how much time to spend in the country.
In Paraguay, Nicaragua or Panama, for example, you can easily get permanent residence permits, as long as you can prove a small monthly income or deposit a few thousand dollars into a local bank account.
Panama has a special investment programme for tropical timber that can provide a good yield, as well as facilitating permanent residency. Countries such as Paraguay or Cambodia are also attractive if you want to quickly convert your residence permit into a nationality.
In any case, with almost 200 states in the world allowing naturalisation – some to a greater extent than others – the opportunities are enormous, which is why I refer you back to our Encyclopaedia for Second Nationalities.
3. Look into your family tree
You don’t have to be rich or have to wait forever. If you are lucky, your second nationality may be closer than you think. Do you have an Irish- or Italian-sounding last name? There’s a good chance you might be able to get the citizenship to go with it.
Many countries, especially in Europe, allow you to take back the nationality of your ancestors from the last two or three generations. These include, for example, Italian, Irish, Spanish and, under certain conditions, Polish nationalities.
Other countries, such as Spain, allow all Sephardic Jews to obtain citizenship as compensation for the persecution that their ancestors suffered in Spain 500 years ago, when they were exiled from the country (the cut-off date for this was extended until September 2021).
Others make citizenship conditional on religion. Any Jew, or sometimes even a convert, has the ‘right of return’ to Israel. However, due to the compulsory military service, people are often in no great hurry to return.
4. Get married
A further solution is that of marriage, or even having children. Did you know that if you have a child in Brazil you can get nationality there within a year if you can prove that you will take care of them? Similarly, although depending on the country, marriage usually speeds up the naturalisation process or even directly leads to nationality.
Citizens of the world rather than die-hard patriots
The countries mentioned in this article today are only examples that simply don’t do justice to the vast range of possibilities. However, we hope we have helped you understand that there are many alternatives waiting for you out there, as well as many reasons for getting an additional passport.
You don’t have to settle for the nationality you were given, just because you happened to have been born in a certain place, you can find other similar, or even better nationalities!
In the end, it is up to you to decide what path you want to take.
Even if you love your country, getting a second passport can be a patriotic act, if it allows you to live in a certain country, resolve your affairs and then, after a certain amount of time, return with maximum power to change your home country for the better. After all, love is something that we carry inside us, and no passport in the world can dictate that.
In conclusion, a passport is nothing more than a piece of paper that provides us with certain benefits that are unfortunately unjustly distributed. You should not let it influence your identity.
At Tax Free Today, we can help you through the process of obtaining additional nationalities, so feel free to contact us if you would like our help. Alternatively, if you are still unsure what the best option is for you, you can also book a consultation or check out the different options in the Encyclopaedia for Second Nationalities.