Most Americans don’t have a first passport, so suggesting you to get a second passport might be an odd concept to understand. Having a second gives you more freedom, an exit strategy from your existing country, and possibly even tax benefits.
This week a list was published highlighting the only places in the world that American passport holders were allowed to travel. Covid travel restrictions have kept Americans very limited on their freedom of movement.
You might be thinking at this instant you don’t want to travel anyway, so the ability to leave the country isn’t a big deal. But you’re probably reading this because you value options, which is wise. Maybe you don’t want to travel during a pandemic, but what about in the case of war or an environmental disaster? Having the ability to travel under multiple passports gives you expanded privileges and rights.
Why Would You Want to Get a Second Passport?
Visa Free Travel
Every nation you hold a passport from has detailed visa agreements with every other country on the planet. In the current case of covid countries are amending their typical visa rules based on public health concerns. United States passport holders are currently limited to twenty-four international travel destinations.
By expanding your passport collection you can travel at your discretion under whichever country gives you the entry benefits you want. Even during non-pandemic times traveling under one passport versus another can save you a trip to a consulate.
There is no way to predict the future and any number of things could cause you to want to abandon your current country of citizenship. You may become fed up with national politics, social shifts, or environmental changes.
Waiting until your stress level has bubbled over and you want to be somewhere else is not ideal. Most new passport strategies take advance planning. If circumstances like covid come up again you can be prepared with back up plans.
Access to Privileges
Once you become a citizen in most countries you will automatically be allowed to live there, with some exceptions. Your citizenship could come with access to socialized healthcare, free college, and many other government programs.
Despite the misconceptions there are numerous countries with excellent healthcare and education which would be amazing to have access to. American citizens, even those living abroad are eligible for covid stimulus checks. The same could be true for other governments offering stimulus payments to their citizens.
In general taxation is based on residency not citizenship, with some exceptions. However, having access to multiple passports can give you opportunities to reside in more tax efficient countries. Being a citizen can also make it easier to open businesses and have employees in more business friendly tax havens.
Making strategic tax decisions might not seem important when the money you make isn’t very much, but living a tax efficient life is smart at every income level. Building your nest egg and creating generational wealth becomes exponentially easier when you loose less of your income to taxes.
How Can You Become a Citizen in Another Country?
Citizenship by Decent
Many countries believe in a concept referred to as bloodline citizenship. The ability to obtain a passport is passed down by your blood to a limited number of generations.
- Czech Republic*
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
* EU member state
Each of these countries have unique processes to prove you’re entitled to citizenship by decent. If you are able to get a second passport in any of the starred countries, you will gain access to live, work, and get educated anywhere within the European Union.
Citizenship by Marriage
If you have fallen in love with a person who holds any passports you do not have, double congratulations. Becoming a citizen based on marriage is the most straight forward of all the citizenship paths.
In most cases married couples will need to file their marriage license in the country of the desired citizenship. There will likely be a questionnaire and possibly an interview to ensure the legitimacy of your nuptials. In rare instances there will be a minimum length of residency in order to obtain a passport by marriage.
Citizenship by Residency
This is where knowing the terminology really starts to get finicky. In order to enter a country you need a visa, to live in a country you need to be granted residency. After a certain length of time which can start at two years you can request consideration for citizenship.
Not all countries offer citizenship by residency. The United Arab Emirates and San Marino have the longest residency requirements, thirty years of residency before granting citizenship. During your residency you will of course need to stay out of legal trouble and comply with all tax laws in order to be eligible for citizenship.
Citizenship by Investment
If you have a hundred thousand U.S. dollars to burn, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica will accept your donation and give you a passport plus residency for your whole family in under six months. It only gets more expensive among all the other countries that allow you to get a second passport by investment.
Each program has its nuances, namely that many programs do allow you to purchase personal property as the qualifying investment. Additionally, be mindful of the length of time between the investment and when citizenship is actually offered. Programs referred to as “golden visa” will grant residency by investment and offer a passport after many years.
Where is it Easiest to Become a Citizen?
I wish there was a magic answer to this question. Unfortunately the answer is, it depends.
If I were to rank the options for getting a second passport in order of difficulty, easiest to most difficult:
- Citizenship by marriage
- Citizenship by ancestry
- Citizenship by investment
- Citizenship by residency
With 199 different passports and 199 very specific processes, it’s impossible to compare every path to citizenship across all situations. If by happen stance you are eligible for passports by marriage or decent, I highly recommend following those paperwork paths to the end. Even if you don’t intend to live in your partners or ancestors home countries it is still the easiest path to give yourself options.
Gaining citizenship by investment or residency require you to have a lot of skin in the game and your desire to live in that country is a crucial factor. In many cases these paths to citizenship will require you to assimilate into the country by learning the language and possibly taking tests. These are not routes most people would take if they just want options to leave their home country but don’t intend to actually leave their home country.
Get a Second Passport
It is always better to have more options versus less options when it comes to living, working, and accumulating wealth. Even if you don’t think you want to move or shift around your assets now, start the process of getting a second passport now. Some of these processes can take years.
Obtaining additional citizenships can have a great impact on your future generations having access to education and employment opportunities on a global scale. Yes, the bureaucracy and paperwork will be annoying, but in the end you will be entitled to a whole nation of benefits as a new citizen of another country.