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Second passports, citizenship requirements and investments – such things may seem complicated for a newbie. To the average individual, a citizenship is about naturalization. You work in the host country for a particular amount of years, get used to the local system, learn about its culture, and eventually take a test and pay a fee – done.
But then, there is an easier and quicker way to do it – the citizenship for investment. In theory, it may sound a bit fishy. You basically have to pay to get your citizenship. It does not seem too fair, but who cares? The truth is you are not buying the actual citizenship, unless you choose to make a donation. You can also invest the money, meaning you have a good return on investment. It is all business.
This second passport is a very powerful tool in today’s society. It makes an outstanding backup plan and provides access to geopolitical diversification. Second passports are often associated with fiction and spies, but these are all misconceptions. There are lots of different ways to get a second passport, and the quickest way is to buy it – or invest in it.
There are more technical words describing this concept. For instance, you can keep it simple – you buy a passport. It can also be referred to as economic citizenship – different people get different passports for different reasons. The citizenship by investment is by far the most technical option out there, and you will hear it, especially when hiring a service for this venture.
Why get citizenship for investmentLoads of people will find this funny – getting a second passport and actually paying for it. Indeed, many countries – especially around Europe – will give you their citizenship for specific investments in their economies. You could buy real estate, or perhaps you could invest in a government-approved fund. But then, why would you do it?
Tax planning is by far the most obvious reason wherefore so many people opt for citizenship by investment. Now, you need to know that this second passport will not change the tax situation overnight. However, if reducing tax is your primary goal in life, chances are this is your first step. Obviously, you need to pick a new country with tax requirements in mind.
Travel planning is another common reason. Most people out there have travel gaps in their passports. No matter where you come from, chances are there are certain countries out there that will require visas and taxes. Sure, some passports are more powerful than others, but such restrictions will always apply. A second passport may reduce these gaps and give you visa-free travel.
Plus, there are times when a second passport could be the only way to access countries like South Africa, China, or Russia.
Last but not least, a second passport is an insurance – the difference is you will not have to pay monthly to keep it going. A passport is a plan B – a backup plan. Whether you need to leave a country due to instability or you want to give up your citizenship, having another passport ready is essential and can save you time and stress.
What the citizenship for investment actually meansThe citizenship for investment is easy to realize when you break the term down to basic aspects in life. For example, what is citizenship? It represents an agreement between society and individuals to work together and benefit from this partnership. Citizens accept some responsibilities – such as local laws, while the state grants some rights, such as voting or property ownership.
As the world keeps evolving and systems interconnect, countries are now relying on passports – some form of identification – to decide who can enter or leave. The passport is, therefore, one of the state’s responsibilities and greatest rewards. Different passports work differently. Some of them allow entering most countries, while others are severely restricted.
Back in the day, citizenship was granted by birth. Naturalization was also part of the game, not to mention marriage. Things have changed in the 1980s, when more and more countries have introduced a different way to get citizenship – the investment. This is the second part of the citizenship for investment jargon term.
Some countries abuse this partnership they have by asking for high taxes. Not all of them work like this. Some others believe that an individual who contributes to the local economy deserves to be a citizen. This is how citizenship programs have come up – programs that allow individuals to gain citizenship for a significant investment.
Such programs will not require a few thousands, but hundreds of thousands or even millions. You get the point – citizenship for investment is not for everyone but for wealthy individuals. There are, of course, lots of different programs out there, exceptions, requirements, laws, and regulations. It is important to research a new jurisdiction upfront, but also assess your goals and objectives.
A few things to know about citizenship for investmentThere are a few things you should know about citizenship for investment – the types of things that will also help you determine whether or not you are dealing with a legit program. Doing everything yourself is an inexpensive option, but hiring a service with experience in this field can ease the process, prevent costly mistakes and ensure you do everything by the book – especially if you cannot speak the language.
Quick and straightforward
The best part about these programs is the fact they are quick. The process is straightforward and will not last too long. You need to go through the actual application and make the investment first. These are the time-consuming parts. After all, you want a solid investment that will give you a good return as well – otherwise, you could just make a donation.
All in all, once these two aspects are covered, procedures will last less than half a year. You should be able to get citizenship and a passport within a few months only. There are still a few exceptions out there. Malta is the most notable one, and getting your citizenship will usually take more than a year. Other than that, you will normally have to wait for months only.
The passport as a commodity
Now, while this idea is sometimes irrelevant, the passport has a commoditized nature. What does it mean? Simple – anyone can get it. It makes no difference if you come from Togo, Ghana, Peru, New Zealand, or Finland. You can get the citizenship in a country providing such a service. Your religion and nationality are irrelevant. Your language skills are not important either.
It is important to realize that numerous countries out there provide golden visa programs, meaning you can get residency for a particular amount of time for an investment. You cannot buy citizenship there. The citizenship for investment program is different and allows skipping the residency and moving straight to the passport.
Now, back to this idea, the commoditized passport means you can become an economic citizen in no time for the same price. As you dig deeper and look through statistics, you will notice that certain nationalities seem to prefer particular countries. For example, Canada’s former program saw an incredible majority of Chinese applicants.
No one cares where you are from or what your religion is. Of course, there are a few requirements, and many governments will also check your criminal record. But apart from all that, the location will only affect one aspect – the time needed to complete the application. In terms of money, pay upfront, and you will get your passport.
A perfect structureGood citizenship for investment program will also have a good and quality structure. Everything should be crystal clear. In other words, the investment amount is fixed and will not vary. The path to citizenship must be crystal clear too. Sure, minimum requirements may change every now and then, but not too often. They are likely to go up with the economy or other serious factors.
For example, some countries reduced some of the requirements for their programs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To keep it simple, such a citizenship program works just like a business. The process is well streamlined and structured.
The legal profileThis idea is common sense. A government cannot start a citizenship for investment against its own laws. Such laws do not exist either. Second passports may often make you think about scams or ways to avoid law enforcement. Only a misconception. The programs are 100% legal, established by governments, and clearly defined in their laws.
Benefits of economic citizenship
Most people will get into the citizenship for investment program before retirement. They are trying to find a nice and stable country to help them spend their last years in peace and wealth. Many others see this opportunity as economic citizenship. In other words, there are some money-related benefits in the process.
- Hard to access countries – some passports could allow you to travel to China, Russia, or even the USA.
- Travel advantages – a second passport may fill the gaps in your traveling needs and allow visa-free travels.
- Low risks – most countries providing such programs do not even require traveling to them.
- Safety and backup – having a second passport allows you to renounce your current citizenship and save on tax.
- Streamlined procedure – while you can also hire service for help, the process is usually streamlined and straightforward.
- Quick results – you can easily get the second citizenship within a few months only.
Citizen for investment programs and their constant changesBefore choosing the right citizenship for an investment program, you should know that such programs are less likely to last for ages. They come and go. It is not a long-term plan. You cannot play to get enrolled into such a program in Greece about ten years from now – it may no longer be available. There are, however, two solid exceptions out there.
Saint Kitts and Nevis has a program that has been active for almost four decades. It is the original program, and chances are it will last for many more years. The Dominican Republic's program has also been around for nearly three decades and counting. Again, it is a well-established program that has brought in excellent results overtime.
All the other programs for investments and citizenships are less than 10 years old – struggling to get there though.
Over the past decade, many such programs have kicked in and got canceled within months or years. Cyprus used to be one of the most popular choices around Europe – it is gone now.
How to quality for citizenship for investmentCitizenship for Investment Program
Governments provide access to citizenships because they respect your financial contribution. It makes no difference why you want a second passport. You may not even need the actual citizenship, but you have just found a great investment opportunity in another country. Just go for it, and the citizenship comes as a bonus then.
When it comes to governments, they take such foreign investments to boost their economies. Different fields of the economy might slack. Therefore, you may have to invest in real estate or perhaps a local business. Government bonds and development funds are just as common – requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another.
Once these demands are met, some countries choose to close their programs. New ones will show up in other jurisdictions, though. All in all, here are the most common types of investments you can do.
DonationsThis is the traditional way to get citizenship for investment. Despite its popularity, it is not necessarily the best one. Donation requirements vary and can range between $100,000 and more than $500,000, depending on the jurisdiction. You make a donation, and you get a passport – simple as that. The problem is you will never see that money bank.
The donation is appreciated because at least you do not have to worry about it later on. You do not need to sell it, help it grow, and so on. It is not a business. It is not an asset. Do it and forget about it. The donation could be a waste of money, but it may also save you even more money in taxes then. At this point, you no longer care about wasting that amount.
If you can travel to China or Russia and expand the business there, your donation could be seen as an investment in your own business.
Real estate investmentsDonations must be picked very carefully to become useful. Real estate investments are more likely to provide a good return on investment. Most citizenship for investment programs will require purchasing real estate. The respective purchase must be approved by the government, though. What does it mean? It is overpriced. It is not the best deal you can make.
Turkey is one of the countries that do not require it. Now, in some countries, the property you buy is not even yours – a timeshare. Even if you do get to own it, you will still make a donation in fees and taxes. In theory, this is not a good deal, but it depends on the market. You could sell it a decade or two later for more money.
Practically, donating $100,000 is better than buying $200,000 properties valued at $350,000. However, if you keep those properties and they actually gain in value, it might be a pretty good idea. If you choose an island, it could be a touristic place. It might be someone’s ideal retirement house. There are a few good ideas out there, but there are also some limitations.
The hybrid model complicates everything, but it should still be mentioned. You may need to make a few different types of investments to benefit from the citizenship. Such programs are more common in Europe. You may have to buy real estate, spend time in a new country, make a donation and even purchase government bonds.
As a general rule of thumb, the more rules you have to face, the more powerful the passport will be. For example, such rules are common in Europe because you gain access to more than just one country. Countries in the European Union allow hassle-free traveling – definitely a plus. You could gain access to dozens of other countries.
Now, when it comes to an island in the middle of nowhere, no one really cares about it. The passport is not too powerful, but you would have to pay less for it. There is always a trade-off to think about.
More and more investment solutions have come out lately. Governments provide more opportunities to those interested in citizenship for investment. For example, Turkey offers more alternatives. You can purchase a property and spend $250,000 on it. You can also put $500,000 in a bank, leave it there for three years and get your citizenship.
Turkey also allows starting a local business and employing 50 locals. This is another good way to get your citizenship and actually make some money in the process.
Think about Antigua, then. Forget about starting a business from scratch. Instead, invest in a local business, and you can qualify for the business. The donation is around $100,000, while investing in a business will cost you $400,000. Saint Lucia has even higher requirements – you will need to invest $3.5M into a local business.
Many countries also allow buying government bonds. They do not always bear any interest. You need to hold them for a specific period of time – usually years – before qualifying for citizenship.
Understanding the application for citizenship for investment
Get all the paperwork, submit the application, and chances are you will have your passport within half a year only. But then, how do you get to this step, and what do you need to go through?
Again, different countries have different laws and requirements. The good news is the process is well structured and intuitive – you do not need any experience. Plus, there are lots of commodities. The first step implies choosing the country you want to invest in. At this point, you will require a bit of paperwork to present your case.
Due diligence procedures are normally strict, but they make common sense – these countries need to know who they deal with. You may need to collect documents from local authorities, law enforcement agencies and so on. If you are in the USA, you may need an FBI or police report. Your criminal record is extremely important.
The source of the money must be obvious too – bank statements, explanations and other documents. You may have to go years back in order to showcase your savings and how you got there. You will have to go through a medical examination too and collect school transcripts – it may sound funny, but you might need to go back to elementary school in some countries.
Your legal history and criminal record will make the difference. The duration depends on more situations – such as how many other people apply at the same time.
When it comes to the investment, most countries will ask you to do it upfront and also attach evidence of it. Some others require making the fund deposit only after the application has been approved. You will also get a certificate of naturalization, which will be used for the passport. Some countries require your presence in a swearing in ceremony.
ConclusionBottom line, the citizenship for investment is not as popular as other options. There are more countries providing golden visa programs, for instance. At the same time, such programs will not last for ages, so you need to move fast. Economies change round the clock, meaning you have to be flexible and find the perfect choice for your future needs.
This is by far the quickest way to obtain a second passport, whether you are interested in Turkey, Malta, Vanuatu, the Dominican Republic, or other countries. It works on some simple principles – you buy the passport. The way you spend the money is up to you, and the good news is there are quite a few options out there.