One of the most common questions I get is how to obtain a second passport if you have limited resources. Plenty of people would like to have one, but the costs can appear daunting.
Millions of people travel the world as tourists and millions more on business. It’s wonderful to get out there for whatever reason to see different places and have new experiences. Fewer people choose to live overseas and obtain residence status in a foreign country.
We all want to save taxes, make ourselves less of a target to sue-happy lawyers, and generally enjoy more freedom to live as we want to. You’ll be happy to hear, there are some well-established ways that you can preserve and protect your assets right now.
An Irish passport is a good thing to have. If either parent was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then no matter where you were born, you’re entitled to Irish citizenship. Even if both you and your parents were born outside of Ireland, but one of your grandparents was born there, then claiming citizenship is simple.
Until about 100 years ago, you didn’t need a passport for international travel. If you were traveling for some official purpose, or needed a way to identify yourself, you often had the option of carrying one. But you didn’t need permission from anyone to cross international borders. For better or worse, that’s not how things are today. Your passport doesn't belong to you. It belongs to whatever government issues you a passport and it can be taken away, for any reason.
First, let's set the scene: Common legal grounds enabling someone to acquire a second passport include marriage to a foreign citizen or birth in a foreign nation. In some countries like Ireland and Greece blood ancestry is a basis. Then there's formal naturalization, meaning you apply and qualify for citizenship status.
One of my favorite scam stories is of the German lady living in Paraguay. Claudia Bettina Muller was arrested last year for printing fake passports in her basement. Police found printing and engraving machines, along with boxes of blank passports and counterfeit government forms. But before I had ever heard of Claudia Bettina Muller or the Paraguayan police caught up with her, I had heard of this scam. I had come across a speaker at an event in Nevada who claimed he could get anyone in the attentive audience a Paraguayan passport in as little as a month. This was possible he maintained, because he had high-level government contacts. The cost was only $45,000. (That's half of what any of the second citizenship programs I work with charge.) Right then, as he spoke, I knew it was a scam.
Now and again when an American (or any other national) grumbles about the sad state of affairs in their home country they may hear a sharp response: "If you don’t like it here, go find another country." If you can spare a few hundred thousand dollars, or maybe a million, you can do just that. You can buy what is euphemistically called "economic citizenship."
Is it un-American to go offshore? In the United States, government officials and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service have for years done their best to convince people that obtaining a second passport is somehow crooked, even unpatriotic. The media persists with this steady drumbeat of negativity, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the legal and constitutional right of U.S. citizens to hold dual or even multiple citizenships. Indeed, a second passport—a second citizenship—is one of the most important tools in any sovereign person's personal and financial toolkit.
Benjamin Franklin—one of the most astute and beloved of America's Founding Fathers—once observed: "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." Whether the people of the United States have remained true to the intent of America's Founding Fathers is certainly open to question. Since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans have been subjected to the questionable Patriot Act, massive government NSA surveillance, and a flood of restrictive and questionable laws that curb liberties.