For years we have urged people to start now at working towards dual citizenship. It’s the wise thing to do in order to provide yourself options and a Plan B should things in your home country change.
It’s also an essential part of developing your Trifecta Strategy which is both a lifestyle planning tool and a tax planning tool to help you legally lower your taxes. It’s all about diversifying, protecting yourself, and going where you’re treated best.
Whatever you may be looking for as a 7- or 8-figure entrepreneur, preparing yourself with citizenship options is the way to go.
So is it really possible to have triple citizenship? Yes!
In fact, we encourage people, once they have a second citizenship under their belt, to develop a passport portfolio.
When considering what countries to look at for a second passport, you should take into account the travel privileges its passport would give you, as well as the freedom of the country, their financial and tax policies, and then overall whether you’d want to live there or not. You’ll be looking at not just what countries offer the best passports, but what is the best passport for you and your situation.
In this article, we’ll talk you through why you need multiple citizenships, the ways to get passports, the difference between passport tiers, how to develop your passport portfolio, and some possible passport combinations.
As the world continues to shift and change and countries look to make new laws that affect the wealthy (say hello to global wealth tax), citizenship insurance is something you’ll increasingly want to consider. This puts those wise strategies of diversification and protection into action.
This might be a new concept for you, but it’s becoming more commonplace and it makes sense when you consider the benefits. After all, you wouldn’t put your money in an uninsured bank or leave your home or business uncovered. Why should your citizenship be any different?
Recent studies of ultra-high-net-worth individuals show higher percentages of this group, especially those from emerging countries, who have or are working towards obtaining a second passport. Their motivation has mostly been due to negative changes in their home countries. They want to be protected.
For example, many high-net-worth individuals in China are looking to ensure they have options for protection and another place to go should their government start changing how it treats them.
There’s a new trend among governments to use travel regulations and restrictions on their citizens as a way to exercise national control or as a means of punishment. At the very least, they are giving themselves the power to create more limits in the future.
Another tactic I see in the western world is governments increasingly looking to raise taxes on the wealthy. Countries that don’t have a wealth tax are discussing implementing one. There’s a big target on the back of high-net-worth-individuals in countries like the US where politicians want to raise their taxes up to 70%.
In a very real way, having only one citizenship makes you a slave to that country and whatever they do.
In order to take back some of that control over your own life, you need a second citizenship. By having another place to go, you are free to choose to live in a place that treats you best, no matter what legislation is passed or who gets elected.
There is a positive side of citizenship insurance beyond just protection. The benefits can reach beyond your present situation. Having a second citizenship can allow you to leave a legacy that your family can benefit from. In many cases, you can pass your new citizenship down to your kids and grandkids.
If you’re a 7- or 8-figure individual you owe it to yourself to have an insurance policy for your citizenship in order to protect yourself and your assets. You insure other parts of your life —you should insure your citizenship.
Ways to Obtain a Second Passport
There are many ways to start the process of getting a second or third passport. Some are fairly inexpensive while others may cost you more but are faster. Whatever method you go with, the main thing is that you are prepared and protected when you have a citizenship insurance plan.
There are 5 main ways to get citizenship. We have several articles about each route. If you’re specifically interested in one of the options, read deeper into the process. Here is just a brief description of each:
- Naturalization – the most common method where you establish residency in a country, spend time there for a certain period of years, pay your dues, and become a citizen.
- Citizenship by Descent – where you have a right to citizenship through your ancestry.
- Economic Citizenship – a monetary investment or donation to the country can earn you your new citizenship.
- Exceptional Citizenship – through exceptional circumstances as determined by a country’s leader, you may be granted citizenship.
- Marriage – through a legitimate marriage of several years with a partner that is a citizen of another country you can be eligible for citizenship in your spouse’s home country.
Years ago, I created a system in which we grouped every passport into one of three tiers. The groupings are based on the travel privileges the document provides, not the citizenship itself. When considering your passport portfolio, you want a range of passports that allows you to travel visa-free to the countries to which you want to travel.
While travel is important, you’ll want to consider more than just travel privileges to find the countries that fit your needs. Take into account things like a country’s tax policies, diversification options, and banking and investment opportunities.
Be sure to take a holistic approach to make sure you’re covering all your requirements. Travel is important, but it is not the only element to consider when looking at passports tiers and building your portfolio.
In my tier system of passports, I rank them as Tier A, B, and C.
A Tier A passport is one where you’ll often (but not always) get visa-free access to the CUUNA countries: Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. Our benchmark is that it at least gets you into the US since most people considering expatriating are from the US. They don’t want the baggage that comes from US citizenships, but they also don’t want to lose any travel options.
The Tier A passport countries are: the United States, Japan, Canada, most EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Chile, and Poland.
These are hard to come by and usually have some strings attached that you’ll need to consider. If you have lucky genetics and can get a citizenship by descent that’s probably the easiest option. Otherwise, you’ll probably be spending some good time and money to get a Tier A passport.
A Tier B passport is one that will give you access to Europe, excluding the UK and Ireland which are harder to get into.
Lots of countries fall into this tier, including those in places like the Western Balkans, the South Pacific, Georgia and other Caucasus countries, as well as a number of South American countries.
These passports are great for filling in travel privilege gaps. For example, a US passport does not allow visa-free travel to Russia or China. A US citizen could then get a passport from Ecuador that does give you access to both countries to fill in those gaps.
Tier C passports don’t have access to either the US or Europe. These are pretty much every African passport outside of Seychelles and Mauritius. This tier also encompasses a number of Asian passports such as Thailand and Vietnam, a few countries in South America, Turkey, and Russia. But overall, there aren’t that many Tier C passports.
A country’s socioeconomic status isn’t the biggest factor in these Tier C passports. Politics plays a much bigger role. For example, an El Salvadorian passport is much better than a Qatari passport despite the huge disparity of wealth between those countries.
So why would you want a Tier C passport? Tier C doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad option. They’re just very limited in terms of their travel privileges. You might want a second passport from a Tier C country where you know they’re going to leave you alone. It can be great to have a passport from a small country that isn’t going to bother their citizens living overseas.
The thing to know with the tiers of passports is that the best passport will be a portfolio with a variety of passports to fill in travel gaps, provide citizenship insurance, open up your investment, banking, and business opportunities, and cover all your bases.
I recommend that the best passport strategy is to develop a portfolio. This not only gives you a second place to go, but allows you to develop a strategy for protecting your assets and providing all the travel privileges you desire.
If you already have a great passport and are planning on keeping it, you want to look at passports that are affordable, easier to get, potentially faster, and complementary to the one you have — like an average Tier B or C that could open up new countries that aren’t even available on your Tier A passport.
For instance, as mentioned above several Tier A passports do not have visa-free access to Russia or China, but there are Caribbean passports you can get fairly easily through investment that will give you access to both. Depending on where you need visa-free access, you can look to different regions and countries with different alliances.
It’s also wise to find another passport from a country that you know is going to leave you alone. They might offer great banking or a few extra travel options and you also get another passport that helps you diversify and further protect your assets. Again, having a passport from a small country that isn’t going to bother its citizens living overseas can be a really good thing.
Overall, you need to understand what you’re getting with your passport and why you’re getting one in the first place. Think of your goals and what you want to be able to do. Then structure your passports in a way that allows you to reach all those goals.
The best passport portfolios won’t come by just collecting the best passport in the world, but by aiming to structure your portfolio to cover all your interests.
Possible Passport Combinations
There are many routes you could take in developing your passport portfolio and each person’s portfolio will look different. It’s best to start by considering your needs: what you want to be able to do, to where you want to travel etc, and build from there.
You should also be aware that while there are some countries that allow you to have more than one citizenship, others would make you first renounce all others in order to get theirs. Or they at least tack on certain requirements if you hold more than one passport.
Singapore and Luxembourg, for example, both have great passports in terms of travel but don’t allow you to keep any of your other passports if you have theirs. There are several countries that function this way so be sure to check out our list.
I typically recommend being careful with your Tier A countries since they are more powerful countries that either currently or may in the future come after you and your assets no matter where you live. Like I said earlier, there are usually strings attached when holding a Tier A passport.
A good place to start looking for a second citizenship is to see if you can easily get a passport from a Tier A (or even B) country through descent. Check your family tree. Just be sure that you’re aware of the implications that passport will bring. Look at the tax policies and in-country requirements. But citizenship by descent is probably the quickest and simplest way to get started and to possibly get a Tier A passport.
For me, Tier B passports are the wave of the future. In combination, you can travel to most places with these passports and they provide great tax, investment, and citizenship insurance options. Plus these passports are continuously expanding their travel options and visa-free travel is only going to get better.
If you are already a citizen of a Tier A country or if you’re able to obtain one through descent, some good options for your next passports would be ones in the Tier B category that can play into your specific business or travel plans.
For example, if you’re looking for places to start or expand your business, you may look into Georgia or Lithuania (though be sure to check if you qualify for dual citizenship there). Or there are many options for global entrepreneurs where you can start with getting a business visa and work your way towards citizenship while expanding your business.
If you’re more interested in getting something quickly or easily, there are many options in the Caribbean where you can make a donation or investment and within a few months, you’ll have a Tier B passport. These are especially good for filling in travel gaps to places like Russia, China, and other parts of Asia that may not come with your Tier A passport.
There are also great Tier B passports that can play into legally lowering your taxes. Where many of the Tier A countries feel it’s their right to tax you and your worldwide income at increasingly higher rates, there are countries with decent passports that will treat you well and that will actually compete for your business.
If you’re just looking for a tax haven or zero-tax country, be sure to take into account the implications of living or having your business in one of these countries. Don’t just jump at the first place you see with 0% tax. Be sure to take a holistic approach to make sure you’re really getting what you want.
There is also the option for what I call a “paper citizenship” where you can relatively easily get a second citizenship without having to spend much or any time actually living in the country. These countries won’t bother you. They want your donation and will hand you a passport for it. Done deal.
These will usually give you a Tier C passport, but sometimes even a Tier B one. The targets are always moving on these, so you’d have to jump quickly when the opportunity comes. The process for getting citizenship in these countries is usually fairly simple and straightforward.
As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to build your portfolio. Depending on what you’re looking for and what you need, there are many routes to take and ways to structure your portfolio. Taking a well-rounded approach will be essential to getting you what you want.
Don’t Stop at One
Getting a second citizenship should be your first step.
But don’t stop there.
While one additional passport will open up your options and provide some much needed insurance, continuing to build your passport portfolio will enable you to travel where you want and structure your business and investments in a way that puts you in charge of your life and your assets.
Acquiring a third citizenship may be the perfect method to cover all the passport tiers, helping you plant your flags and making you a true global citizen. It may also help you further lower your tax rate to or near 0%.
Be sure to watch out for scams. There is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of commoditized passports companies that will try to mislead you.
Also, be sure to take a step back and make a comprehensive plan detailing what you’re aiming for. Don’t just jump at fast, easy, or cheap. Structure your portfolio in a way that gets you everything you want.
Having triple citizenship is not only possible, but a wise move to protect yourself and your assets. It can be a complicated process finding out what you want and how your passport portfolio can play into that.
If you need help figuring it out, you can contact us here.