Most people think having multiple passports is just for the “James Bonds” and super wealthy of this world.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, ANYONE can obtain dual citizenship and a valuable second passport.
Whether it’s escaping an overzealous Covid lockdown or avoiding riots, civil unrest, and international conflict, 2021 has made one thing crystal clear: there is no downside to having options for where you can live, work, and raise a family.
The most frequent questions we get are “Where are the easiest countries to get citizenship?” and “What are the fastest and easiest passports to get?”
This article will cover both questions and even include the easiest European citizenship and passport options for 2021.
In this In-Depth Article...
Before we get into the countries themselves, the first thing you should know about acquiring citizenship is that there are four different ways. They’re based on:
By far, the easiest way to get a passport is through ancestry. It’s a little-known shortcut that could give you an excellent European passport and oftentimes costs next to nothing to obtain.
Citizenship by descent is an excellent option that we recommend EVERYONE considers first. To better understand how this process works, you can download a free in-depth intelligence report on How To Get an Italian Passport & Citizenship By Descent here.
The second easiest way to get a passport simply requires putting in a little time. The time option usually involves obtaining residency in a foreign country. You first obtain legal residency, which then leads to full citizenship after a few years.
Does this mean you have to live there full-time? Not necessarily. One of the easiest European passports to obtain does require at least some on-the-ground residency to prove commitment to that nation. And the fastest passport in South America requires you to live in that country for a total of about a year.
Portugal is a great country to obtain citizenship. Its passport is first-class, with visa-free access to 159 countries in 2022. As a Portuguese passport holder, you’ll enjoy the ability to live, work and travel freely in all 27 member-states of the EU (after discounting the UK.)
Getting a Portuguese passport is relatively easy. It requires becoming a resident of Portugal and, after five years, applying for citizenship.
Portugal’s D7 Visa is frequently referred to as the Retirement Visa, Passive Income Visa or Online Worker Visa. The D7 Visa offers foreigners the ability to obtain temporary residency – provided that you have sufficient means to support yourself and any dependent family members while in Portugal.
The initial permit is issued for two years and then renewed for another three. After five total years of residency, you can apply for citizenship and a passport, subject to certain conditions.
To obtain residency under the D7 visa, you must prove that you have sufficient recurrent income to sustain yourself in Portugal. The Portuguese authorities prefer seeing long-term, stable, passively derived income (i.e. not salary-based).
The official financial requirements are relatively low and tied to the Portuguese minimum wage (which in 2021 is €665 — about US $799 — a month).
Portugal will also be happy to accept savings or a combination of savings and income.
Unlike with the Portuguese Golden Visa program, with the D7 visa, there is no minimum required investment in property. The application and service fees can be up to eight times lower than those associated with a Golden Visa.
The trade-off is that you need to spend a minimum of four months per year in Portugal to keep your D7 residency permit renewable and to become eligible to apply for citizenship. Here are the rules:
You must stay in Portugal at least four months a year in total, AND
You cannot be away from Portugal for longer than six months in a row.
In addition, you will also be expected to prove basic proficiency in Portuguese (A2 language level) if you wish to apply for citizenship.
After five years of temporary residency in Portugal, you will be eligible for permanent residency and citizenship. Portugal is by far one of the easiest countries to get citizenship in the EU (without ancestry).
Just like Portugal, with a Belgian passport, you could live and work anywhere in the EU. Unlike Portugal, however, which requires only financial means, Belgium is one the easiest European passports to obtain for those looking to start a business.
So, what’s involved?
First of all, you’ll need to establish economic ties in Belgium through one of two options:
Belgium offers a Professional card to applicants who can help grow its economy, either by creating jobs, increasing exports, investing in fixed assets, offering underrepresented services in Belgium or adding economic value in some other way.
So when you obtain a Professional card, you’re gaining work authorization as an entrepreneur, not an employee (which is Option #2).
The procedure looks like this:
To reduce the possibility of the government rejecting your project after you’ve already incorporated the company, it now makes sense to present your well-crafted, comprehensive business plan to the government concurrently with applying for the card.
Keep in mind that the rejection risk exists mainly when your project does not include an EU citizen. It might be a good strategy to act as a shareholder, a non-active partner, while an EU citizen serves as a director.
Alternatively, you can also purchase an already established Belgian business. This residency process takes anywhere from six months to a year, but it ends up being cheaper (in terms of tax benefits) than gaining a work permit as an employee.
This track involves a work permit and requires you to obtain a position with a Belgian company before entering the country. If you are a non-EU national, then your Belgian employer must apply on your behalf at the Regional Office of Employment.
The conditions to obtain the Single Work Permit (SWP) are approximately the same as those for a Belgian work permit. The process generally takes only about three or four months.
It is important to note that the SWP can also be obtained by “sending yourself” to Belgium from a company abroad. The gist is that you obtain a work permit through a non-Belgian company, for example, on the basis of exploring the market.
And yes, the company that sends you to Belgium can be yours.
You’ll also need to have at least one other person listed as a shareholder in this parent company. This creates a viable work contract, as you’ll be reporting back to that person. If you are sent from a company abroad as a “posted” or “seconded” employee, there won’t be any “social contributions” to pay.
This path is effective for a residency visa, but because you’re not paying into retirement and health schemes, it could jeopardize a future application for a citizenship program, as well as your healthcare status in Belgium if you don’t have private insurance.
Keep the business that you registered open and active. Keep a clean criminal record. Learn a little French, Flemish (Dutch), or German. Put your kids in Belgian schools. Join a few organizations and attend meetings. Show that this is more than just a residency on paper.
After just five years, you can apply for naturalization. If you’re looking to start or relocate a business, Belgium might be one of the easiest European countries to get citizenship.
Spain is by far the best (meaning fastest and cheapest) option for citizens of countries that used to be Spanish colonies. That’s because Spain cuts the residency requirement from ten years to just two years for citizens of any Spanish-speaking country in the Americas, but also Brasil and the Philippines.
And Spain does not require you to renounce your original citizenship. A Spanish passport is a fantastic asset to own. In fact, it’s one of the best in the world and ranks in the top 10 in our international passport ranking. Spanish citizenship gives you visa-free access to 161 countries, including all of the European Union.
If you’re already a member of our premium service, Sovereign: Man Confidential, you can access our February 2020 Monthly Letter about a possible backdoor option for those not from a former Spanish colony. We say possible because it is still untested.
But through our on-the-ground research, we believe that moving to Puerto Rico could allow you to qualify.
Puerto Rico is a US territory, and it technically doesn’t have its own citizenship. But that means US citizens can move there as easily as moving to any other state. And after living in Puerto Rico for one year, anyone can obtain a single-page certificate confirming that they are a citizen of Puerto Rico.
Our lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic believe this will fulfil the legal requirements of obtaining Spanish residency through citizenship in a former colony.
Gaining residency in Spain is relatively straightforward. You can qualify for residency under the residencia no lucrativa program if you can prove that you have sufficient means. Spain will be satisfied if you show them either enough savings or recurrent income.
You will need to apply for your initial entry visa into Spain from your local consulate at home. Once in Spain, you will be able to pick up your residence permit on the ground. After two years, you will become eligible for a Spanish passport.
In 2020, Malta revised its citizenship by investment program extensively, with a mandatory residency period being introduced, along with two investment options reflecting either a standard or fast track residency period.
As of December 2020, the Maltese passport is the easiest option for anyone to pursue if they wish to get EU citizenship through the investment route (if money is an issue, we suggest you check out Portugal instead).
Malta offers citizenship in less than 15 months in exchange for a combination of donation and investment into the country.
The key program changes for 2020 are included below:
A Maltese passport is an excellent travel document that gives you visa-free travel access to 158 countries, including all of the European Union.
Maltese citizenship is by far the best citizenship you can acquire by investment anywhere globally. Once you’ve met the conditions, you will need to maintain residency requirements in Malta for 12 or 36 months before qualifying for a passport.
Fortunately, there are no strict time requirements for you to spend a lot of time there – you just have to come to fill out the paperwork in person.
Panama used to be one of the easiest places to obtain citizenship in the world because of its simple, fast-track residency process. And residency, in this case, is the first step towards a dual citizen passport.
The process works like this: you go to Panama and use one of 50+ options to apply for residency. (Yes. More than 50. They really want people to come to Panama. And the country also has easy citizenship requirements.)
Panama’s Friendly Nations and Retirement Visas were the easiest options and allowed the applicant to become a permanent resident very quickly. Once you submitted your residency application, you can leave.
Then, you come back a few months later to pick up your documents and ID card. You’re now a legal resident of Panama. After two years, you apply (in Panama) to renew your residency. Then, after a total of five years of residency, you can apply for naturalization (full citizenship).
It helps if you can speak at least some Spanish and if you can show some social and/or business ties to Panama. This strategy makes Panama possibly one of the easiest countries to get citizenship (without using the ancestry option).
2020 PROGRAM UPDATE: In 2020, Panama launched four Golden Visa type programs for citizens of countries not included in the Friendly Nations list. You can learn more about the new Panamanian Residency By Investment Programs here.
South America offers many excellent easy second passport options. One of them is Argentina, which offers the fastest way to get citizenship in the region.
After obtaining residency in Argentina, you can qualify for full citizenship after only TWO years of living there (plus a processing time of several additional months).
Argentina’s passport is also a pretty solid travel document, with visa-free travel access to more than 150 countries, including Europe and Russia, Southeast Asia, and South America (but not the US or Canada).
Getting residency in Argentina is pretty straightforward. The official requirement is that you show a minimum of $1,000/month in passive income to be eligible. If you have a steady, passive income, you could qualify for a rentista visa, a one-year visa that can be extended in one-year increments.
Once you’ve got your temporary visa/residency, you’ll need to start spending time in Argentina. The physical presence requirements obligate you to spend at least six months per year there over the course of those two years.
At that point, you may apply for naturalization. You will need a bit of Spanish language proficiency, but the exam is easy enough to pass without full fluency.
Keep in mind that in spring 2020, Argentina ordered one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns of any country. Argentina banned commercial flights in and out of the country through September 2020 and was barring tourists from entering the country during much of the COVID-19 lockdown.
That is something to keep in mind, especially if the freedom to travel during potential future government lockdowns figures prominently in your reasons for acquiring a second passport.
There are two great things about having Brazilian citizenship:
One, they refuse to extradite their citizens to answer for foreign crimes.
Two, ANYONE can be Brazilian, whatever their ethnicity.
Brazil is one of the easiest countries to get citizenship because it is the KING of ‘flexible’ citizenship options – getting married, adopting a child, even adopting a rainforest, in some cases. And it can happen in as little as one to three years.
One option is to marry a Brazilian citizen and apply for permanent residency immediately after that. After one year of permanent residency, you can apply for naturalization.
Another option is having a baby in Brazil. In our Sovereign Man: Confidential member library, we profiled a couple who moved to Brazil and had their baby there.
Any children born in Brazil receive full citizenship, so the baby automatically became Brazilian. Ten months later, the parents gained permanent residency. A year later – and yes, they lived in Brazil the whole time – the couple qualified to apply for naturalization.
2020 UPDATE: Brazil also offers an immigration category specifically for investors. After you bring the minimum investment of BRL 600,000 into the country, you can get a 5-year residency permit. Given the real’s depreciation, this translates to approximately $130,000 only, which is quite affordable.
You can invest the money in anything or leave it sitting in your Brazillian bank account. The program can lead to citizenship through regular naturalization after five years, making it an interesting option if you’re looking to gain a second passport in Latin America via investment opportunities.
If you want to give your future child the invaluable gift of second citizenship and passport, download our free report, The Four Passports ANYONE Can Obtain.
If money isn’t an issue, then you could look into obtaining Citizenship By Investment from one of many Caribbean nations. The region is home to five Citizenship By Investment programs and is responsible for making the sale of citizenship in exchange for donations mainstream around the world.
You can now buy a $250,000 bond from St. Lucia, which will be paid back (without interest) after five years. That means you could buy citizenship for as little as the cost of the filing fee – about $40,000.
Even before the recent changes, the most attractive option for single applicants was St. Lucia. For a $109,550 exclusive of service provider fees one-time donation to the government, you can get a passport from St. Lucia, which gives you visa-free travel access to 123 countries, including the EU (but excluding the US and Canada).
2020 PROGRAM UPDATE: In May 2020, the Antiguan government announced that they would be slashing the application costs for families of six. Whereas previously, the total cost of gaining citizenship would have been $185,000 for a family of 6, the fee reduction means that you will now only have to spend $150,000 all-in.
As an added bonus, one family member can take advantage of a one-year, tuition-only scholarship from the University of the West Indies as part of the deal.
The processing time for the entire process is around three to five months – so if you are looking for an expedited passport in tax heaven, then a Caribbean passport could make a lot of sense.
You can learn more about this option and other Caribbean passports on “COVID sale” in our in-depth article about citizenship-by-investment.
There are many ways to become a citizen of another country – many more than we’re able to list in this article. (Luckily, we’ve written dozens more pieces detailing, step-by-step, how to acquire easy second citizenships. Check them out in the Sovereign Man archives.)
We encourage you to research your options – and then TAKE ACTION.
If you have one nationality, then one government has total control over your life, finances, business, and personal affairs.
We saw many different responses from governments when it came to coronavirus lockdowns. And governments also respond differently to civil unrest, riots, and protests. The events of 2020 have made it evident that you want to have more than one option to choose which government’s rules you prefer to live under. A second passport is an insurance policy.
Getting a second passport also means expanding your work, leisure and investment options – both for yourself and your kids. Many universities in Europe, for example, are low-cost or free to EU nationals.
There are many benefits to having dual citizenship, like bigger financial freedom or having an alternative for your home country, so it’s an option worth exploring.
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