With a few exceptions, most people on earth are a legal citizen of somewhere. Citizenship is defined as the relationship an individual has with a sovereign state that grants that person specific rights, shared equally by other citizens. These rights include voting, taxation, property ownership, and civil conduct obligations. In some countries this may also include obligations to compulsory military or other civil service.
People often defer idea of citizenship as being exclusively-tethered to the country they’re born in, however it is often more complex than that. You can also acquire citizenship through marriage, naturalization, and even through investment. The latter is known as “citizenship through investment.”
What exactly is citizenship by investment?
Citizenship by investment is a unique process that permits individuals to obtain a secondary citizenship via an investment into the economy of a separate sovereign state. In other words, by investing into a foreign country (per that country’s requirements), this person is granted citizenship rights in that country, while keeping their citizenship rights in their home country as well. This allows you to get a second passport as well.
Citizenship by investment is also a great way to fast-track any immigration process needed, should you want to relocate to another country, or start a business there.
What are the benefits of obtaining a second passport and citizenship?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this, as it can vary depending on personal circumstances, as well as business and personal needs. There are, however, some broader reasons that offer benefits to anyone looking to obtain a second passport who have the ability to use citizenship by investment to get there.
Most applications for a second passport and citizenship by investment can be processed in three months, and will allow you lifetime citizenship in that nation, visa-free travel, and a number of business advantages, should you need them.
Here’s a list of some of the most common advantages people discover from obtaining citizenship through investment:
Doing Business: As a citizen, an investor is granted many inalienable rights that foreigners or residents of sovereign nations aren’t. This includes access, permits, partnerships, and taxes.
Managing Taxes: Having a second passport and second citizenship will allow you (in most countries) to segment where your income is taxed. This can save millions over time, and still operates within the framework of the law, which mitigates any risk of seizure or fines. NOTE: US persons (citizens or residents) are taxed on their world-wide income, therefore, for US persons, there is absolutely no US tax benefit in having a second passport.
Security: Due to the often turbulent state of the world, having a stable country where you are a citizen is a huge asset in times of crisis. Not just for your business, but also for your personal safety and well-being.
Freedom of Movement: Again, due to the turbulent state of the world, travel between certain countries with certain passports can be a challenge. With a second passport in a country with eased restrictions on travel, you can move more freely, and alleviate complex visa applications for certain places while traveling for business or pleasure.
Family Stability: This is a big reason for many who’s original citizenship may be in a place of conflict, or people who’d like to move their family somewhere else. Typically, when a person is granted citizenship by investment, their families are allowed to join the application, streamlining any future movement for them, and keeping them secure.
Education: As a citizen of a public education-rich country, you and your family will have access to the best public schools, and even priority with many private ones. This not only saves money, but also adds greatly to the quality of life for your family and you.
Why do countries allow foreigners to obtain citizenship by investment?
While not all countries offer this, the incentives for those that do are plentiful. The main reason, clearly, is foreign investment. By offering citizenship benefits to foreigners in exchange for investments, countries can build their economies greater, attract new jobs, add tax revenue, and expand competition for industry.
Another benefit is infrastructure. Due to the nature of many economies, foreigners often invest in large real estate and infrastructure projects. This helps attract other businesses, including local ones, to setup in those locations, and provides ancillary residual income to many people who are native to that country as well.
How many countries offer citizenship by investment, and which are they?
Right now, we work with 9 sovereign nations that offer citizenship by investment options, based out of the Caribbean and Europe. These countries are:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Saint Lucia
- St. Kitts & Nevis
How to obtain a second passport, and what are the requirements?
While every country naturally has their own set of laws and regulations regarding obtaining a second passport as a citizen by investment, there are some general rules of thumb. In general, the following is universal:
- Prove that the source of your investment funds is legal, and was legally obtained.
- Show that you have a clean criminal record, and do not have any outstanding criminal charges or warrants in your original home country.
- Make an initial investment into a sector of your new country’s approved options such as real estate, a government fund, or bonds.
As a trusted partner with experience in both the regional and global markets that apply to these citizenship by investment and second passport-issuing countries, we will do our best to keep the info we have updated, well-explained, and easy to access.
Below is a list of countries who have implemented a citizenship by investment program. Due to the uncertain nature of the world and global economy, you can expect that more countries will add themselves to this list over time.
If you have any questions or concerns, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’d be glad to help!
Citizenship by Investment Programs:
- St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program
- Dominica Economic Citizenship Program
- Cyprus Naturalization of Investors by Exception Scheme
- Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program
- Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program
- Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program
- Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program
- Turkey Citizenship by Investment Program
Citizenship and Passports History
Being a passport-carrying citizen, so to speak, has existed for thousands of years, if you can believe it. There are records of ancient civilizations, including the Romans, issuing “safe passage” or “safe conduct” certificates that governors and high society officials could present while abroad to allow them to travel freely.
The Romans further expanded on this principle by setting up a hierarchy of citizenship that categorized their citizens by role, and where they could travel within the empire (city, state, overseas, etc.). This ensured organization of the population, and layered the security of both Rome and the Roman territories. Being a citizen of Rome allowed people certain rights and privileges not available to outsiders, and helped keep Romans accounted for and safe while traveling. The same could be said even centuries later, as other civilizations adapted this principle, granting safe conduct travel between otherwise unfriendly places, and allowing business and politics to take place in between them.
By the 15th century, England was using a version of the safe conduct “passport” under King Henry V to protect any person he deemed fit while traveling through the realm or abroad. This protection was vital for many people with critical jobs or messages to deliver, as violating the passport holder’s rights was an affront to the king himself. England formalized this process in the early 1500’s during the Privy Council, however passports weren’t explicitly used as full-on identity documents until the mid 1800’s. Until then, their primary role was exclusively for safe passage.
Fast-forward to the early 20th Century and the travel and identity aspects of citizenship through a passport had become official. The first modern British passport was established through the “British Nationality and Status Aliens Act” of 1914, and was adopted officially by the League of Nations in 1920.
As far as instituting a citizenship by investment policy, it is widely believed that Switzerland was the first country to implement such a program, even if it wasn’t the original intent. In 1862 the municipality known as the Canton de Vaud setup an initiative that would tax wealthy foreigners living in Switzerland that didn’t contribute naturally to the local economy. This, in a sense, was a way of granting them Swiss rights at a cost, so they wouldn’t be seen as taking advantage of the local economy without direct investment into it. This, of course, wasn’t called “citizenship by investment”, but many believe that the modern version of it was inspired by the precedent set by the Swiss.
The first official citizenship by investment program was implemented in 1984 by the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts & Nevis, with more countries following in the decade after, and much more during the decade of the 2010s.