September 9, 2011
I wanted to dedicate today’s Q&A to a topic that we have been receiving a huge volume of questions about lately: passports. This subject is becoming quite popular as the developed world continues to deteriorate, and I wanted to shed some light on the issue based on my own extensive personal experiences:
First, Phillip asks, “Simon, what is the point of having a second passport? There are a lot of websites talking about it, but nobody ever says why.”
Great question. A second passport is a really useful insurance policy in the event of things like social unrest, political turmoil, major lawsuit, economic collapse, etc.
To give you an example, some friends of mine in Cairo earlier this week told me that when the revolution started, they really wanted to get out of dodge. Unfortunately the only countries available to them were places like Syria… frying pan, fire.
Ironically, the top countries on their wish list were Malaysia, New Zealand, and Finland. I asked them, “What about the United States? Or the UK?” They shrugged. “Eh…”
If they’d had a decent second passport, they could have watched the turmoil on their television instead of out the living room window. But instead, they had to hunker down when the bullets were flying.
A second passport is ultimate protection in times of calamity… safe passage when black swan events take place. These days when you can’t bet on any certainty past the end of your nose, a second passport is even more valuable.
Even if you’re not facing imminent peril, a second passport has a lot of useful functions. It can help you establish bank and brokerage accounts overseas (especially if you only have the dreaded US passport), and it also helps you keep a low profile while traveling should the need arise.
As I’m fond of saying, nobody ever hijacks an airplane and threatens to kill all the Lithuanians.
Problem is, there is little accurate information out there about how to actually obtain a second passport. The ‘industry’ (if you could call it that) is fraught with snake oil salesmen who claim that they can ‘get’ you a passport in places like the Dominican Republic or Panama, as if passports are served up on a menu.
There are also droves of ‘experts’ who have no earthly idea what they’re talking about; they dish out internationalization advice from North America and make up for their lack of knowledge and personal experience by asking Google for the answer.
This just isn’t the sort of information you’re going to find in Wikipedia. Bottom line- tread carefully.
Next, Karl asks, “Simon, what’s the easiest way to obtain a second passport?”
Another great question. Legitimately, there are three ways to do this.
First is if you’re lucky enough to be descended from a country that grants ancestral citizenship. In other words, if your parents or grandparents are from places like Poland, Italy, or Ireland, you too may be able to obtain Polish, Italian, or Irish citizenship.
Second, you can simply pay to play– there are a few countries where an economic investment qualifies someone for citizenship. More on this next. Just remember, there are only a few legitimate economic citizenship programs out there, and they’re all pricey. If a deal looks too good to be true, it’s a scam.
Third, you can establish permanent residency and go through the process of naturalization.
For example, there are countries in Europe where you can become a citizen after just 2 to 3 years of permanent residency. In Singapore, it’s 2-years. Other countries in South America have timelines as short as 2-years if you know how to work the system.
Depending on the country, you may/may not have to actually spend time in the country during the residency qualification period. For instance, if you want to become a naturalized Canadian citizen through residency, the government there has a strict limit on how long you can be outside of Canada and still qualify.
Last, Robert asks, “Simon, I really enjoyed your offshore workshop DVD kit, and I watched with great interest all the presentations and breakout sessions for second passports. I have been leaning towards the economic citizenship program in St. Kitts, but I heard they just increased their price. Is this true?”
No, it’s not true.
St. Kitts is one country that grants citizenship to certain people who make a qualifying investment in the country; the total amount varies by program, but expect to spend a few hundred thousand dollars.
There was one organization (which shall remain nameless) that recently sent several emails claiming that the government of St. Kitts was raising the financial bar for economic citizenship. Several of the monkey-see, monkey-do websites simply parroted the information, propagating the rumor.
Some colleagues and I went straight to our sources in St. Kitts and found out the truth– the price hasn’t budged. At least, not yet.
Second passports are extremely scarce resources… and as the world continues its descent into monetary purgatory, demand for such things is on the rise. I’ve been in a room full of wealthy Chinese people who would happily pay seven figures for a second passport, so it really comes down to supply and demand.
Bottom line, we very well could wake up tomorrow and see the requirements for some of the better citizenship options change. Australia changed its residency requirements years ago to cope with the influx of immigrants. I suspect the same thing will happen in places like St. Kitts.
If you’ve been thinking about second citizenship, I want to encourage you to get the right information, weigh your options, and take action now. If you kick the can down the road, you risk losing your window of opportunity while it’s open now. As we’ve seen before, we can all wake up tomorrow to a different reality.