Did you know that, as a U.S. citizen, you can get citizenship and a passport from another country—without giving up your U.S. passport?
And you don’t need a spouse or ancestor from that country to get it, either.
With all the political turmoil in the world, there’s been a lot of buzz about second citizenship and passports over the last few years. The market for “citizenship by investment” (CBI) is now thought to be worth billions of dollars a year.
But why might you want a second passport?
There are many reasons. The most important one is that your passport is the property of the U.S. (or Canadian) government. And the government can cancel or refuse to renew it at any time. In the U.S., the State Department can exercise this power for a number of reasons, including having a “seriously delinquent tax debt.” This is when you owe the IRS $50,000 or more in tax, interest, and penalties. The possibility that the IRS might “ground” you is a great reason to think about getting a second passport.
There are other benefits, too:
- Expanded travel and investment possibilities; for instance, citizenship-by-investment in Dominica allows you to invest not only in that country, but in members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community. There are 15 member countries and five associate members.
- The right to reside in another country or countries; for instance, citizenship-by-investment from Malta allows you to live not only in Malta, but in any of the other 27 EU countries.
- You have a lower risk of attracting negative attention overseas if you possess a passport from a neutral nation.
I’ll be honest: Getting a second passport isn’t easy. You now have more routes to a second passport through CBI than ever before.
In an unstable world, it makes sense to acquire a second citizenship and passport if you can. Keep in mind, though, that due diligence standards for citizenship-by-investment programs have become more stringent. Minimum net worth requirements have been imposed in most programs. So if you think a second passport could benefit you and yours, there couldn’t be a better time than now to start the process.
Here are my top three CBI picks, based on total costs, hassle factor, and the reputation of the jurisdiction.
The Commonwealth of Dominica is a 300-square-mile tropical island about 1,400 miles southeast of Miami.
A Dominica passport gives you visa-free entry to, or permits you to get a visa upon arrival at, nearly 140 countries. This list includes Ireland, the U.K., all 26 members of the Schengen Group in Europe, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Visas are required for entry to the U.S. and Canada.
If you’re approved for citizenship here, it lasts a lifetime. Dominica allows you to hold dual citizenship and doesn’t impose any tax obligations if you don’t live on the island.
Citizenship here also allows you to live, work, and do business in most Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, which include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
There are two options available for acquiring citizenship and a passport through a qualifying investment:
- Contribution option: The minimum contribution is $100,000 to the Dominica government for a single applicant. Larger contributions qualify your opposite-sex spouse, children under 26, and qualified adult dependents. You make the contribution only after the government approves your application. Legal, due diligence, and processing fees come to about $35,000, making the total expenditure for a Dominica passport a minimum of $135,000 for a single applicant. Total costs, including all fees for a husband and wife for this option, come to about $220,000.
- Real estate option: Your other route is to buy qualifying real estate in Dominica with a minimum value of $200,000. Additional costs come to a minimum of $90,000.
The Nestmann Group is the only U.S.-based firm licensed to process applications for its CBI program.
Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis consists of two tropical islands in the West Indies, about 1,300 miles southeast of Miami. The country has the world’s oldest continuously operational economic citizenship program, coming into being in 1984.
The benefits of citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis (including the network of visa-free travel options) are similar to those in Dominica. However, Dominica is usually a more cost-effective option.
Two CBI options are available here:
- Charitable contribution option: This option requires a payment of $250,000 or more to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, which helps the country diversify its economy and wean itself off reliance on sugarcane farming. Larger contributions qualify your opposite-sex spouse, children under 26, and qualified adult dependents. Legal, due diligence, and processing fees add a minimum of $30,000.
- Real estate option: This option requires a $400,000 or larger investment in qualifying real estate in St. Kitts or Nevis. Additional fees, including closing costs, add a minimum of $100,000.
Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean, and one of the 28 member states of the European Union (EU).
A passport from Malta is one of the world’s best travel documents. It gives you the right not only to live and work in Malta, but in any other EU country. And it has a visa-free travel network of more than 160 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.
Legislation enacted in 2013 created an Individual Investor Program (IIP) that grants citizenship and a passport to foreigners who:
- Make a contribution of €650,000 (about $714,000) or more to the government, and
- Buy a personal residence in Malta with a value of €350,000 ($384,300) or more. Alternatively, you can lease a residence with an annual rental value of at least €16,000 ($17,568) annually, and
- Buy €150,000 ($164,700) of Maltese government bonds or other approved investment.
Legal and application fees add a minimum of €80,000 ($87,840) to the total.
You must first become a legal resident of Malta and make the required contribution and investments. After 12 months of residence, you may apply for citizenship and a passport. While you don’t need to live continuously on Malta during this period, you will need to spend some time on the island.
Editor’s Note: Mark Nestmann is the author of The Lifeboat Strategy, widely considered the gold standard in American-client asset protection and financial privacy resources. Go to Nestmann.com/ilspecial for a special offer exclusively for International Living readers that includes more information on getting your own second passport.
Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. Delivered straight to your door each month, we delve into the details you need to take action. We share our contacts. We lay out the pluses and minuses. And we keep you up-to-date on the latest developments with the best havens abroad, including…7 Great Retirement Towns You’ve Never Heard of…
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