If you’re presently expecting a child or are planning on having one soon, you should really consider having your baby overseas.
There are many countries, particularly in the western hemisphere, which grant citizenship to all children born within its borders, regardless of the nationality or immigration status of the parents. The legal term is called jus soli, which differs from jus sanguinis, or citizenship by blood/ancestry.
The United States and Canada are two such countries. You are probably familiar with stories of migrants from Guatemala and Mexico who trek across the desert in hopes of surreptitiously crossing the border and having their child on US soil for this reason.
Ironically, if I were expecting, I would probably be heading the other direction across the border to have my kid in Mexico or Guatemala.
Why does it matter? Why consider subjecting your precious cargo to a trip overseas?
Because it’s one of the best ways you can give your unborn child several built-in advantages for his/her entire life.
S/he will be born with 2 passports– yours, and the country s/he is born in; furthermore, the “Place of Birth” field on both passports will list a foreign country, so other people will not automatically assume that your child is from the US or Canada.
Most importantly, though, you can get your child started off on the right foot with the ‘multiple flags’ approach– having citizenship of one country and residing in another. For tax and privacy purposes, it is always best to keep the two separate.
As an example, someone could be an Argentine citizen who owns a Hong Kong based business and spends his time living in Florida, Italy, and Panama… or a citizen of Belize who lives and works in Dubai.
In both of these scenarios, the individual would not be subject to any income tax because he does not live in his home country of citizenship, and his government does not tax worldwide income.
If you live in the country where you have citizenship, you will more likely be subject to tax liabilities. If you never set foot on your homeland’s soil, chances are you’ll never have to stroke that check– so ideally, citizenship should be from a country where you would not want to live but still has value as a travel passport.
St. Kitts, Dominica, and Paraguay are good examples– and a child born in any of these places will automatically be granted citizenship.
Other jus soli countries include Brazil, Panama, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Jamaica, Chile, Nicaragua, Uruguay, St. Lucia, and Antigua… and lest I forget, Pakistan.
If you bear your children in any of these countries, they will be instantly granted citizenship; make sure you do your homework in advance to ensure that you’re not obliging them to military service, or that the law hasn’t changed.
New Zealand, for example, used to grant citizenship to all children born within its borders, but this law was changed effective January 1, 2006. And in the United States, there is presently a bill (HR 1868) with the House immigration subcommittee that would eliminate unconditional birthright citizenship.
It may seem strange to consider future tax planning and private banking issues for an unborn child. Giving your kids a second passport right from the start, however, would truly be one of the most beneficial things you could ever do for them– that, and teaching them a useful foreign language.