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Questions: An Emergency passport? European citizenship; foreign banking rules; walking away

March 5, 2010
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Greetings from Malaysia, where I’m spending an extended weekend before heading briefly to Singapore on business.  I’ll tell you more about the country next week… but if you’re interested in Asia, it should definitely be on your radar.

Before turning to this week’s questions, I wanted to give you a quick update on the job posting from a few weeks ago.  Ordinarily, Matt and I would have made a decision by now, but the applications keep rolling in… I lost count after a few hundred.

To expedite our decision, we’re going close the posting at 11:59pm EST, Monday night March 8. No other applicants will be considered after that time.

Please remember, since there have been so many applications, my staff and I will not be able to respond in order to confirm receipt. Rest assured, if you sent us an email, we received it.

On to this week’s questions:

Tom writes, rather emphatically “Simon, I left the US over a year ago. I now need a 2nd passport as I am almost out of pages on my current one. Problem is, I can’t go to the embassy due to some legal problems back home, and I don’t have $50k to spend on a new passport. What can you recommend?”

Tom has an interesting and unfortunately all-too-common case. I don’t know what he’s done or if he’s guilty of any wrongdoing, but a last-minute second passport is no panacea for criminal troubles.

(to be clear, I don’t equate ‘law’ with morality, but this is a different subject altogether)

Why? Because even if you’re completely innocent of some trumped-up charge, any new country that would consider accepting you for citizenship would first do a background check, and if you’re in hot water, they probably won’t take you.

Conversely, if you actually have done something immoral, you should probably just face the music. After all, the cosmic forces of the universe have a way of working these things out.

Regardless, I think this underscores the importance of taking action. If you have the means, going through a second citizenship process NOW, before it becomes a critical need, is a smart thing to do.

I discussed a few cost effective second passport options last week, and I will continue to do so in future letters.

Speaking of second passports, I made a mistake when I mentioned something about Polish citizenship last week– my thanks to “anonymous” for sending along this correction:

“Simon, you said that a Polish citizen could establish permanent residence in another European country like France or Italy and  become eligible for citizenship there after 7-10 years.  The EU rule is that local citizenship can be applied for after 4 yrs residence, though it’s much faster with marriage.”

She is absolutely correct, my apologies for the oversight.

Stephanie in New York writes, “Simon, thanks for the great information on opening a foreign bank account this week. As a US citizen I understand that I need to file a form to the Treasury Department each year– what are the details on that?”

First- standard disclaimer: check with your tax advisor for any updates. But the current rule is that US taxpayers must report foreign bank and financial accounts on form TDF 90-22.1 each year by June 30.

According to the IRS, A “financial account” includes any bank, securities, securities derivatives or other financial instruments accounts, including any savings, demand, checking, deposit, or any other account maintained with a financial institution.

As of now, you do not have to file the form if the aggregate value of all of your foreign accounts was less than $10,000 for an entire calendar year. If the aggregate value of foreign accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the year, you are obliged to file the form by the following June 30th.

James asks- “Simon- you’ve been in Thailand for a month but you haven’t said anything about the nightlife or social scene!”

That’s because you can read about Thai nightlife anywhere. I figured you’d be more interested in the hydroponics plantations where I buy organic vegetables than a review of the Go-Go bars…

… but to put it briefly, you can find whatever you want in Thailand. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are as pervasive as Buddhist monks and the works of Shakespeare. If there’s interest, I’ll write a dedicated post about this, just let me know.

Lastly, Pat asks: “OK Simon- I owe $136k on a house that I bought 4 years ago; it’s now “worth” about $70k, tops.  I make plenty of money, but the payment is slowing me down.  Would it be immoral to jump ship and go rent somewhere else?”

Personally, I have an immensely open mind to not judge people for the way that they live. I only broadly repudiate things based on very few moral absolutes– for example, genocide and pedophilia are clearly ‘wrong’ in my book.

Walking away from your mortgage does not make my list.

If you do decide to walk away (and I’m not encouraging you either way), just bear in mind the single universal law of causality… there will be consequences from your actions, and you must be prepared to accept them.

That’s all for this week; enjoy your weekend, and we’ll talk again on Monday.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.TTFatLoss.com craig b


    In addition to all of your regular excellent info, I’m interested in the hydroponics operation where you grow your vegetables – and frankly how you continue to eat according to your plans throughout your travels…any business opportunities you see in the health fields of these nations who are increasing their standard of living.



    • http://rauschenbach.us Möpsi

      I lost interest in hydroponics after discovering that within 5 years of the fad getting kicked off, it was discovered that the fruits and veggies grown under such conditions are missing 1/3 of their vitamins and minerals, which is similar to the statistic coming out of the San Juachin Valley (the “fruit basket of America”), which after 100 years of irrigation has become a salt bed, and results in a very similar deficiency. Hydroponics is capital intensive, with specialized equipment, and regular “chemical” dosing of the water with the minerals and whatever is supposed to come through the soil, so since everyone had so much invested in the new supply chain, the model plodded on, in spite of the bad data.

      I don’t count calories, and I laugh when I read a label that says a certain food item has x amount of this or that. Artificial vitamin pills don’t absorb, and there IS a difference between eating a dead irradiated tomato versus one that is alive and picked sun-ripe. The old school chemical farmer would say they were the same thing, because they both had the same amount of vitamins and minerals, according to a spectral analysis. As if microbes have nothing to do with good health!

      Personally, I will go on trusting the soil to produce correct food. The field of biodynamics is also doing a good job of quantifying what is going on in the soil, which is nothing short of a “miracle”, that I would not trust some water additive to reproduce artificially by any means. Growing in the soil is also the most cost-effective plan, because nature does most of the work.

  • Quantella Owens

    Hi Simon,

    Normally, I love this letter. I look forward to it unlike some of the other stuff I get each day. I have one small bone to pick with today’s issue. Your advice to the gentleman who is underwater…..not feeling it. He bought a house when everyone else was buying, therefore buying at the height of the supply/demand cycle(and therefore when houses were most expensive) and now, since things have turned against him…he wants to know if he can simply “unsign” a legal, binding contract? I make no guesses or assumptions about how he financed or any of that other stuff, but this country was built on two very important concepts: property rights and contract law. Neither is as effective without the other and America would not have been so great and powerful for so long without either of them. When people started violating them, most of our troubles began. It is was makes us different from Venezuela (just ask Con Agra) or Mexico (just ask any major oil company). Look, I’m far from being a cheerleader for America The Brave, but you signed your name to that piece of paper, sir, and I think you should feel obligated to fulfill it.

    • lrm

      I agree with you,but do think that for too long,American citizens have been sooo upstanding with regards to doing things to the letter,while known corporations/individuals have no problem filing bankruptcy and starting a new business. For individual citizens,there has been a stigma attached-that you are somehow an immoral,or bad person,for making a bad business decision,and therefore you are not paying your debts and are in essence an unethical human.

      this is not always or even most of the time the case. usually,people learn the hard way-through living life-and bad decisions are made.

      Now,keep in mind that each US citizen with a SS# is literally a Social Security-you are a stock being traded on the market,in exchange for your sovereign status. This is why all SS cards,DL,passports,utliity bills and the lik are in capital letters. You operate as an individual citizen of the United States of American,based on DC. You are a subsidiary of said corporation-which is why you even need a passport or ‘license’ to travel at all.

      Too much discussion for this type of reply. I will say you can reclaim your sovereign status,as an American,not a citizen,and operate with both american [US FOR America] and citizen status,thereby doing business under your citizen alias.

      Just realizing that one is a corporate entity,doing business,and not an unethical person who is not paying his bills,makes a big difference-destygmatizing is useful.

      THEN,we can get to the point about corporations or entities honoring contracts,and the importance of this for maintaining an economically strong and viable country/corporate entity [US of A is a corporation,you know.]

      There is honor and integrity,but marrying them to the letter of the current law/government has resulted in far too docile and almost religious like attitudes towards government,IMHO,of course.

      • lrm

        based ‘in’ D.C.,not ‘on DC’. (:

  • Mel

    Simon I think I speak for a lot of subscribers when I say ‘yes, a bit about the night life please. ‘. After all many of us a re living vicariously through you. But don’t leave out the hydroponics either plz

  • Michael

    I am surprised how many people don’t understand contract law. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking away from a mortgage. Nothing. A mortgage contract is a collaterized agreement. What you agree to is to pay for the note on the house or give back the house. Period. That is what the bank agrees to when they loan you money. There is no “morals” clause that says you must pay no matter what. You want the property – you pay. You don’t pay, you lose the property. There are no other considerations. Giving the the asset back upon default is a part of the contractual obligation. You have fulfilled your legal obligation when doing so.

  • Dave

    Be glad to buy you a beer or three in Singapore. 
    Long time reader of many things Casey,WOB, and SovMan. I will be in SIN March 12-15 doing my periodic check up on a real estate partnership on Batam island. Main reason though is to hit up the food courts and hawker stands. I need a laksa fix.

  • Stan

    Dear Simom

    Still trying to figure out the best, most expedient, way for a person with both US and Euro citizenship who is willing to pay up to $50,000 for another legal passport outside the Eurozone goes? Are there 2 or 3 countries one can use to accomplish this?

  • Captain

    …Speaking of foreign bank accounts — anyone heard of Jyske Bank? They’re a Danish outfit that, apparently, still opens brokerage accounts for Americans (I’d prefer a brokerage to a plain bank, simply for the ability to actively manage my own money). I know Saxo bank has been mentioned here before, but I hear they’re crooks. Is Jyske any better?

  • Jeff

    Jyske was not too American friendly around 2 years back. I didn’t like their attitude when speaking to them. May vary based on the branch’s jurisdiction.

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