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How do you go about getting a second passport then?
There are those lucky enough who can claim a second passport instantly and for free -- such as children whose mother and father each has a different nationality.
Others, such as long-term residents of countries other than their native one, or those married to a foreign spouse, are often also entitled to a second passport. Whilst free, this is not a route that's open to everyone for reasons of practicalities. Moreover, patience is needed: this can be a slow route, often filled with obstacles; it typically takes several years before a second passport is granted.
So is there a fast and hassle-free route to a second passport?
Many countries have enacted legislation that allows qualified applicants to receive instant second citizenship and a passport in return for investment. Such programs are widely known and are typically aimed at individuals who wish to leave their (often repressive) country of origin and begin a new life elsewhere.
The legal process is usually simple and swift (taking as little as three months), and the attractions are numerous for many: good visa-free travel, better stability and better economic climate of their new country, lower taxes for residents, and so on. Some economic citizenship programs allow legal name change.
Countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize and Grenada all created a "citizenship industry" alongside their offshore financial sector.
The necessary level of investment typically was set at US$ 60,000 to 70,000,
although once rose as high as US$ 1.5 million in the case of the (now discontinued)
Whilst programs relying on specific economic citizenship legislation are suitable for some, their high-profile nature has discouraged others. In addition, many such schemes have now closed up shop due to domestic and international political pressures.
Citizenship, passports and indeed honorary diplomatic appointments and diplomatic passports are often granted without the need for specific economic citizenship legislation. Many nations have provisions in their laws that allow the granting of citizenship by discretion or rather at the simple behest of a government ministry.
Even the United States and Great Britain routinely grant citizenship and passports to persons whom they believe may be of value and who will benefit the nation. The same is true of course for many other nations around the world. In these cases, each applicant is considered individually and not as part of any collective policy decision by a government. Knowing the right people to approach is of course vital.
This brings us to another class of second passport program that, in a way, is a combination of an economic citizenship scheme and the discretionary approach.
Such schemes seek to attract investors not through economic citizenship legislation as such, but rather via the discretionary approach described above. To qualify, an investment in a government-approved business is usually required. This, in turn, is considered to be of a sufficient "benefit for the nation" for the relevant government department to exercise its "discretion" and offer the investor an instant second passport.
These programs often contain confidentiality clauses and are made available
to a handful of lawyers and other trusted specialists. Nations have increasingly
chosen this approach at the advice of international tax lawyers who have noted
that it is in the mutual interest of the applicants and the nations alike.
Obtaining a passport on the basis of ancestry is not an uncommon route; having parents each with a different nationality will often enable a child to claim dual citizenship. This is common and widely understood.
However, what is worth noting here is that numerous countries have legislation which enables a second passport seeker to exploit a much farther ancestral connection than one that goes back just a generation or two. This is the case in countries as disparate as Latvia, Israel, Germany and Spain.
Some countries' legislation takes the ancestral connection yet further. To give an example, those with indigenous Jewish connection may take up Israeli citizenship -- this is not unusual. However, under certain circumstances, some can even become citizens of Germany or Spain -- by taking advantage of legislation designed in response to the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th centrury.
History throws up some fascinating opportunities if only you know where to look. There must be millions of people worldwide who could probably claim an instant second passport of one country or another on the basis of their origin alone -- regardless of which country they call their own now.
It must be noted here that obtaining a second passport through ancestry is not in itself a route to lower taxation or other freedoms if your original nation still can hold claim over you.
For example, one Norman Dacey, author of "How To Avoid Probate", chose to obtain Irish nationality on the basis that he could claim ancestry there. Dacey duly moved to Ireland some years ago and declared himself an Irish citizen. The Internal Revenue Service of the United States however saw things differently and confiscated royalties even though Dacey had been outside of the USA and held an Irish passport. Formal renunciation of US citizenship at the US embassy quickly followed.
One somewhat unorthodox way of getting a second passport is through adoption. Despite what you might think, this is not an option only available to the very young.
In some coutries, persons of any age can be legally adopted by a willing (and presumably economically rewarded) family. As there is apparently no age restriction on this procedure, it is possible to be adopted by a parent half your age.
Naturally, the process requires careful professional handling and observance of the law in the two jurisdictions, both the applicant's and the adoptive parents'. The procedure is carried out with the full knowledge and assistance of the relevant authorities.
For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that there are nations that will give instant citizenship and a passport upon marriage to a local citizen (in contrast to many that will just offer residency, with passport to follow in a few years' time).
In any case, the author does not wish to advocate the use of marriage as a means of obtaining a second passport. Marriage was invented to serve a different purpose altogether.
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