We all get passport at birth. We are born in a country and we are citizens of that country. For most people citizenship they get at birth is the one they keep for the rest of their life.
However, for super rich people there is another way to get a second passport, it’s something called citizenship by investment. It’s 7 billion dollars global market where rich can buy their way into poor as well as some of the richest countries in the world.
As you probably already know, passports are not equal. Afghanistan passport will only let you visit 24 countries visa free and it ranks as the worst passport in the world. On the other hand, passports from Japan and Singapore are ranked as the best in the world at the moment, and they will let you travel to 180 countries without a visa. A runner up is Germany passport that will open the door of 179 countries worldwide.
If you have a passport that is considered weak buying another passport can open multiple opportunities for you.
It will be a ticket for easy travel, easy business and better taxation.
International conflicts, corrupt governments, economic uncertainty are also huge issues that concern people, and if you are rich enough you can buy your way out.
Of course, among all the countries that offer passports ‘’for sale’’ there are different prices and requirements. In some countries it’s quite expensive in others not so much.
So, what are your opportunities?
First of all, as we already mentioned there are investor citizenship programs in multiple countries. It’s very simple, you invest (or donate your money) into a country and in return you get a citizenship.
How did it all start?
Well, it began in 1980s with the Caribbean country of St. Kitts and Nevis. Government needed something to replace the dying sugar industry and they found a solution. They decided to sell their passports to foreigners. Today it’s their biggest export costing you 250 000 dollars donation or 400 000 dollars investment in real estate.
Passport selling soon spread around other island nations like Dominica, which will sell you their passport for 100 000 dollars. The fun part is that you don’t even have to physically ever go there in order to become a citizen. Pretty convenient, right?
You think those are too expensive? Well, if you want to get a passport from Comoros it will cost you ‘’only’’ 45 000 dollars. This country originally started this program for Kuwait. Gulf area has population of stateless people, Bedoon tribes which were never officially registered and they live without citizenship or passport. Instead of giving these people a citizenship and oil funded benefits that come with it, government made a deal with Comoros to buy multiple passports for people in these tribes.
If you want a bingo, truly remarkable passport with multiple opportunities the best thing probably is to buy an EU passport. However, EU passports are quite costly.
Cyprus requires an investment of 2 million EUR, Malta asks for about 1,15 million EUR investment. Even Austria offers their citizenship by investment, but price can be as high as 10 million EUR.
Buying a foreign passport isn’t the only way to enjoy benefits of living in a foreign country.
There is another very popular program called ‘’the golden visa’’. This is something that the richest countries offer, in this case investments grant instant residency. So, you don’t actually buy a passport, you buy a green card. These programs are a fast track to a foreign passport since they will usually waive some of the standard requirements. This market is growing fast, even though half of all of these programs are only a decade old.
Chinese spend 24 billion dollars on golden visa programs in the last decade, 7.7 billion dollars in the United States.
In 2014. 9 128 out of 10 000 applicants for the US EB-5 visa were from China. They invested 500 000 dollars to get a green card. This program is being used to fund multiple luxury developments in the US. President Trump’s first major law quietly renewed this scheme. Kushner Companies, part owned by Trump’s son in law uses EB-5 funds in their project.
USA isn’t the only country that’s appealing to Chinese investors. Over the last 10 years, 35 000 Chinese investors got Canadian visas, costing 800 000 dollars each. However, since 2014. this program was limited to Quebec.
UK also offers golden visas. Price? 2 million pounds worth investment. This program has been so popular that it caused almost no left inbred aristocrats on the country’s richest list.
Some countries will require that you actually live in the country in order to be able to use benefits of these programs, but not all. For 500 000 EUR you need to spend only 2 weeks per calendar year in Portugal, and after 6 years you are eligible for citizenship and a passport.
However, none of these rules need to apply if you are wealthy enough. Billionaire Peter Thiel, famous for being a co-founder of PayPal and on the board at Facebook, become a citizen of New Zealand after spending only 12 days there, instead of required 1350. In order to qualify for investor visa a foreign investor must make a 1.5 million dollars investment into New Zealand Government Bonds to be held for a period of five years.
As the world is becoming more unsafe and unstable, walls are being built and borders are becoming harder to cross. However, wealthy will not need to worry about that since politicians are leaving backdoor open for them.