Businesses today can operate in multiple countries with relative ease. Businesspeople, on the other hand, are faced with travel difficulties and obstacles. Many of the former restrictions to operating a business in different countries have been lifted, however, visa requirements still exist for the business owners and senior-level managers. In order to be able to travel freely, wealthy businesspeople are investing in second passports
. A second passport not only enables travel freedom, but has emerged as an item of extreme luxury as well.
Foreign nationals who have worked to build business empires and are now millionaires can’t truly enjoy their success as they are limited in their travel mobility around the world. Wealthy individuals want to be able to spend their hard-earned money as they please, and that includes the ability to travel without visas. They want to travel as freely as a Canadian or an American is able to. They want the feeling of freedom.
Multinational businesspeople invest in second passports for countries that do not require visas to the countries of business operations. This lifts any travel restrictions or issues faced in visa applications. Businesspeople often have to travel to other countries where their business operates, many times for urgent matters. Without a second passport that allows visa-free travel to the country in question, one cannot travel to any country on a whim. Visa applications are an expense of both time and money that could both be avoided with an appropriate second passport. Submitting passports to the embassy also hinders the ability to travel at all during the time it takes for visa issuance. In addition, visa application refusals are not uncommon.
Many countries, being aware of the obstacles faced by wealthy foreign nationals, have created Citizenship by Investment
programs that offer passports in exchange for an investment in the specific country’s economy. There are over 50 countries today offering passports through investment, with a big portion of these having been established in the past five years alone.
Global average wealth has increased by 5.4% and its billionaires by 6.4%. The Middle East has been surpassing the global average with wealth increased by 9% and billionaires by 7.8%. Naturally, this leads to more Middle Eastern nationals investing in second citizenships abroad. Most countries throughout the Middle East severely restrict mobility, so using one’s wealth to purchase travel freedom is the smart thing to do. The demand for second citizenship through investment will continue to increase as global wealth increases.
Where to Invest
The investment requirements vary widely from country to country, with the cheapest investment being Dominica’s US$100,000 for a single applicant, to Austria’s requirement of €10 million. Once a passport is received, the applicant is subject to the same laws and is granted the same rights and benefits as other citizens of that nation.
One of the most popular options for a second passport is Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program. Among the investment options are a US$200,000 contribution (for a family of four) to the National Development Fund (NDF), or a US$400,000 investment in government approved real estate. Antigua and Barbuda are the only Caribbean nation that includes visa-free travel
to Canada, among over 100 other countries. Other Caribbean countries offer comparable programs. An important advantage to the Caribbean programs is that there are no physical residency requirements. In other words, an investor may obtain a passport for the sole purpose of the travel freedom it allows, and never travel to its country at all.
Europe also has several second passport programs, with Cyprus being one of the most popular. While the investment amount is among the pricier nations at €5 million, a passport can be obtained directly in about three months, with no requirement to reside in the country. A Cyprus passport has many benefits including the right to live and work in any EU country.
Tax Havens for the Affluent
High net worth and ultra high net worth individuals are also obtaining second citizenships in order to lessen their tax obligations. As hiding money is not a safe option, residence in a low-tax country is the perfect alternative. Many nations base their taxes on place of residence. As such, the affluent can escape to the Caribbean countries, for instance, where there is no income tax in order to avoid paying taxes during that time.
Last but certainly not least, second passports are now more than ever seen as a symbol of status. Just as people flaunt their fancy cars, second passport holders are proud to show that they had the money to obtain such an esteemed document.
QICMS works with individuals across the globe to determine their needs and select citizenship investment programs that are the best fit. Which passport is the right one for you?
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