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The best second passports if you’re interested in Asia

March 25, 2010
Tokyo, Japan

About 20-years ago, many of the world’s sovereign nations started down an interesting path.  Region by region, governments formed supranational free trade blocs in order to facilitate economic growth.

Supranational organizations were nothing new… from the failed League of Nations after the Great War to the UN and NATO, large multi-country blocs had been formed in the past, but usually for political purposes or military alliances.

Conceived in 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was among the first international forums specifically designed to boost trade and enhance economic growth in the region, politics be damned.  After APEC came MERCOSUR in South America, NAFTA in North America, the EU, and finally the African Union.

A few years into the new millenium, most of the world was covered in trade blocs that were supposed to throw politics out the window… today, though, only APEC remains as a pure financial body, and the rest of the world could learn some valuable lessons from that region.

Aside from reduced trade restrictions that are standard for these organizations, APEC has come up with a few really brilliant ideas. Their goal is to make it easy for businesses to engage in commerce with each other– and by facilitating business at the individual level, more deals get done, and more wealth is created.

One of the ways that they’ve done this is by creating a program called the APEC Business Traveler Card (ABTC).  It’s literally a small plastic card that entitles cardholders to visa free travel for at least 59 days throughout the APEC sphere, as well as expedited immigration clearance at airports and other ports of entry.

At major airports in the region, for example, you’ll see signs all over the place for “ABTC FAST TRACK” which gives priority clearance at customs, immigration, check-in, and security to ABTC card holders.

Actually, in many cases, the ABTC is as powerful and useful as a diplomatic passport, but without the cost… and since APEC includes several countries like China and Vietnam that normally have a stringent visa process, the additional travel freedom is substantial.

This is a great tool for PTs and anyone who does a lot of business in Asia.

So how do you obtain one?  You need to be a passport holder from one of the participating countries– so if you’re from Australia or New Zealand, for example, I highly recommend going through the application process; check your respective country’s immigration website.

If you’re not already from the APEC sphere, you need to obtain another passport… which you should be thinking about already.  Of the participating APEC countries, the most straightforward ones to obtain are Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong permanent residence.

With each of these countries, the residence and naturalization process takes anywhere from 2-7 years, and in each case, the process is unmistakenly clear and leaves very little to subjective interpretation.

For example, obtaining a Hong Kong permanent residence card (which qualifies for the ABTC program) requires 7-years under one of the various residency schemes, such as the investor visa or professional worker visa.

In Singapore, citizenship can be obtained in as little as 2-years; it’s 5-years in New Zealand, and 5-years in Chile.

Frankly,I will need to write entire letters specifically on the subject of second passports from these countries; for now, though, you should definitely be thinking in that direction– and if you’re interesting in eventually planting a residency flag in Asia, those are the countries you should consider for second passports.

Stay tuned.

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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.

  • Dana

    A lot of great info in this column today, Simon. Thx for all you do..

  • Rex

    Yes! Extremely interested Simon, thank you so much. How could we get this information elsewhere? Especially being stuck in the tar pit of the U.S.

  • Adam

    Looking forward to more info on this subject…could you address Singapore first since it seems to be the easiest/quickest? Thanks for the article.

    • Marquelle

      Unless you want to be a Singapore citizen ONLY and give up your other citizenship(s).

      Well, it’s not a bad thing if you want to rid yourself of US citizenship that way!

  • Elai

    ABTC cards will also come to Canadians and Americans soon too! (They are ‘transitional members’). So if you have one of those passports, waiting might be the better option for now.

    With Singapore, you can’t have multiple citizenships. :(

    Also Simon, how do evaluate immigration lawyers for their quality? Or lawyers in general?

    • Marquelle

      Any source/link to confirm the waiting game?

      • Adam

        @ Marquelle and Elai, thanks for the info about Singapore…what about the other countries listed? Any particular benefit to one over the other? I like Paraguay for the easy naturalization, but thought an Asian/Pacific passport (not just residence flag) would be fun also. I’ll keep an eye out for “transitional” ABTC possibility.

  • Jeff

    I think Chile also does not recognize Dual Citizenship and may require proof of renunciation. Interesting APEC Travel Card info.

    • zFEDRULEz

      that was repealed in august 2006 see constitutional reform

  • “Mateo”

    thanks again for some great, poignant and timely information. I’d love to read any black paper you put together on second passports as it is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now however there is an enormous amount of information out there and just trying to weed through 1% seems to be a full time job.
    Thank you for helping reduce my time in learning and applying this more through your daily missives.

  • Traveler

    Costa Rica has you renounce your previous citizenship, but they do not require documentation that you have renounced your citizenship. Something to keep in mind.

  • http://www.qwealthreport.com Peter Mac – Q Wealth

    Excellent point about the APEC Travel Card. Of particular interest is that other countries outside the APEC area are already accepting it. Mexico for example allows APEC Travel Card holders in visa free, which is not the case with normal passport holders from some APEC countries.

    Another good ‘travel card’ to have is a cedula from any of the Mercosur countries in South America, which facilitates travel within that area. A cedula is the first step to citizenship there too.

  • Jeff

    I don’t think Costa Rica was listed on the qualifying country list for APEC?

  • Jeff

    Participating economies
    There are 17 APEC economies currently participating in the APEC Business Travel Card scheme:
     Brunei Darussalam
     Hong Kong (China)
     Republic of Korea
     New Zealand
     Papua New Guinea
     People’s Republic of China
     The Philippines
     Chinese Taipei

  • Asim

    Hi Simon,

    I just enrolled on your newsletter.

    Please advise how to receive the newsletter you sent regarding the two favorite “second passports” programs.

  • simon

    Costa Rica has changed the rules and allows citizens to have more then once Citizenship.

  • Walter Goetz

    Hello Simon,
    I recently joint your newsletter subscription. Unfortunately, I missed the popular 2-issues describing ‘how to obtain the second passport’. Is it possible to receive a ‘late’ issue of these two newsletters? Thanks, I appreciate.


  • Norm

    Uruguay takes three years to get a passport, you can have two passports
    and while you are living there you pay no taxes on money earned outside of Uruguay, Only 12% if earned in Uruguay. They do have a 23% vat tax so imported things are expensive. They will let you import your household goods when you sign up for permanent residence.

    They are experiencing a negative population growth like people to retire there. You can work if you want to and you can own land.

    Sounds good to me, intend to check it out in Sept.

    • Peter

      dear Norm, have you made your trip to Uruguay? What area were you in and how did you like it? Any online summary from your trip available? Would appreciate it, have a nice day

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