Second Passport Opportunities to Explore (And One to AVOID)

St. Kitts and Nevis, an Antilles island nation, probably has the most well-known and popular “citizenship by investment” program. You can become a citizen of St. Kitts in as little as six months by investing as little as $250,000 in the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Fund.

The program is very popular with people from all over the world — U.S. citizens who want to divorce themselves from Uncle Sam, Russians, Middle Easterners, and Chinese. Why? Because a St. Kitts passport has traditionally been a solid travel document, offering visa-free access to Europe, Canada, and much of Asia.

But the U.S. government has put St. Kitts in crosshairs because of this citizenship program. They accused St. Kitts of “lax controls” and say that “illicit actors” are using the program to obtain St. Kitts passports. A few months ago, Independent Living warned that the program’s days may be numbered, and that many of the benefits may soon be curtailed.

Sure enough, it’s already happening.

A few weeks ago, Canada became the first major destination to revoke visa-free access for St. Kitts passport holders with immediate effect. As you can imagine, they cited “security concerns” for doing so.

In light of such absurd doublethink, having a second passport makes more sense than ever. A second passport means that you’ll always have a place to go – to live, travel, do business, invest, bank, etc. If your home country ever becomes another historical statistic and engages in all the old favorites of bankrupt nations – war, capital controls, price controls, etc., you won’t be trapped.

It’s one of the best insurance policies you could ever have. And if planned properly, you can ensure that there’s absolutely zero downside.

These “citizenship by investment” programs are under intense scrutiny right now.

Aside from St. Kitts, the economic citizenship program in Malta has also taken a lot of fire. In light of this trend, it may not be worth forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars on a second passport.

Yet there are still a number of options to obtain one.

First, instead of trading money for a passport, you can much more easily trade time. In countries like Panama or Belgium, for example you can apply to become a naturalized citizen after a few years of residency, and you don’t have to spend any meaningful time in the country to qualify. Or you could do so in Chile where it’s still incredibly easy to establish residency for just about anyone, and the requirements for permanent residency and subsequent naturalization are very lenient. Many former island “tax havens” grant residency within months of arrival so long as you can proof you’re financially independent. Rules differ by nation so check it out. Start with the Wikipedia page and your geographic preferences!

Second, if you’re flexible (and young enough!), you could consider having baby in a place like Brazil where children born in the territory become immediate citizens, and parents are able to apply for naturalization after an abbreviated residency period.

Look at your family tree
The easiest option, though, is if you have ancestors from a country that issues citizenship based on bloodlines. That’s usually the easiest, fastest and cheapest way of obtaining a second citizenship and passport. UK, Ireland, Hungary, Spain, Italy, etc. will usually issue a passport if you have proof a grandparent was born in that country. There are so many options in this case, it’s worth looking at the family tree to see if you or your spouse qualifies.

Bottom line, there are plenty of options out there. And as the clampdown on quick citizenship by investments schemes continues, pursuing one that gives you a much more substantial connection to the country of your chosen second citizenship is the way to go.