You may think of residency as a necessary evil—a piece of bureaucracy that must be endured so that you can stay in a country you’ve selected for other reasons.
In fact, residency, dual citizenship, and a second passport are worthy objectives all on their own. To me, having residency in a foreign country is like having insurance…cheap, yet valuable insurance.
Here are four things that many people don’t know about obtaining residency in a foreign country:
* Getting official residency abroad can be easy and inexpensive
* Residency can provide you with a good number of tangible benefits
* Foreign residency can easily lead to a second citizenship and a second passport
* And most importantly, it’s not always necessary to actually live in the country that you’re obtaining residence in
I’m going to use Uruguay as an example. As a legal resident of Uruguay, you have all the rights of a citizen except for the right to vote.
The process for obtaining residency is simple—it requires only a couple brief visits to the country…perhaps a few days total. Some people get residency on their own, while the majority of readers prefer to use an immigration attorney who can do the job “turn-key”.
Residency in Uruguay allows you to enjoy special rights in the region, thanks in part to Uruguay’s membership in MERCOSUR, southern South America’s common market. I’ve frequently used my Uruguayan ID card to travel back and forth between countries, without having to worry about passports or visas. My car is permitted to enter, and my auto insurance travels with me.
More importantly, Uruguayan residency makes you eligible for the national healthcare system, so you’re able to use the “free system,” or the low-cost “paid” system for an all-round better medical experience. For some, this benefit in itself would make it worthwhile to become a resident.
And the most significant benefit of obtaining legal residency in Uruguay is that you’ve started the clock ticking toward eligibility for a second passport…the best “insurance policy” of all. In Uruguay, you’re eligible after a period of three to five years, depending on your personal situation. I’m eligible now, in fact, and intend to apply. My attorney tells me it’s easy…with no test.
The most-unusual aspect of Uruguay is that there’s no actual in-country time requirement to become a resident…or to maintain your status. In other words, you can be a legal resident without actually living here.
But there’s one intangible factor that outweighs everything else…it’s the “insurance” that I mentioned above.
What you’ve created by obtaining residency in Uruguay—or anywhere else for that matter—is a “safe haven”. If you ever need to, you have a place waiting for you where you’ll be welcome…where you could pick up as if you’d been there all along.
I personally see no reason to give up my U.S. citizenship. After all, a U.S. passport is one of the world’s most powerful travel documents…and my tax obligation is so small that it’s not worth trying to mitigate.
But what’s important to me is that I have another option to fall back on, since none of us can predict the future. And that’s what insurance is all about.
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