Second citizenship has merits, but maybe you’re not sure how it stacks up against other investments. Or perhaps you have been considering second citizenship for a while but you’re not totally convinced. After all, stocks and shares seem more traditionally quantifiable.
Well, second citizenship is quantifiable too. Citizenship-by-investment programmes don’t mean a leap of faith – you can weigh their worth just as you would any other investment.
So let’s look at the six key areas where you can find real ROI on second citizenship.
1. Global mobility: From a personal perspective, global mobility is one of the advantages of second citizenship you’ll hear most. But what about the business perspective? What does global mobility really mean in terms of ROI?
Consider the PwC Modern Mobility survey, which finds that 89% of the 193 global executives asked said they planned to increase global mobility across their organisation. Around 98% agreed that this international mobility is essential to ‘meet business needs’. We live in a global world; the agility to move quickly is fundamental to unlocking new markets and capitalising on opportunities, and plays an important role in skills development. For smart businesspeople, international mobility isn’t optional.
We live in a global world; the agility to move quickly is fundamental to unlocking new markets and capitalising on opportunities, and plays an important role in skills development.
Unfortunately, if your current passport has restrictions then this has obvious implications in terms of that mobility. Say you’ve got business in China. Not unlikely, given China’s pre-eminence as a business destination. As it stands only 11 countries allow visa-free travel to China, meaning the majority of business travellers are stuck waiting for visa clearance before travelling. Not something that lends itself well to last-minute business opportunities, especially since the Chinese embassy don’t except postal visa applications. By way of contrast, Grenadian citizens can travel to China visa-free. If you invest in Grenadian second citizenship, you could conclude your meeting before your competitors are even cleared to fly. That’s just one example of potentially hundreds, but the point stands: the ROI of global mobility is less time waiting, more time seizing time-critical business opportunities.
2. Trade and investment: Global mobility is important to international business, but global activity has to be considered too. If you’re willing to wait weeks or more, most countries will eventually grant a short-stay visa so you can attend meetings – but what if you want to take a more active role? Investment in second citizenship can entitle you to trade, create business and invest freely.
For instance, citizens of Europe are able to trade throughout the lucrative European Single Market. Accounting for 500 million consumers and 21 million SMEs, the European Single Market agreement makes it easier for European citizens to trade profitably across Europe. As an EU citizen you’re free to develop business across Europe, and provide products and services in every country in the union. Investment from only EUR 250,000 into Portugal could secure you that access. What could your slice of the USD 16.6 trillion European single market be? That’s your ROI.
3. Major tax breaks: Tax breaks and incentives offer a tangible return on your investment in second citizenship. If you’re wealthy, safeguarding that wealth for the future is understandably a major concern. As a wealthy citizen of tax-heavy countries, you’re sacrificing a potentially huge proportion of your wealth – a proportion that could be drastically reduced through astute investment.
From the tax perspective, the Caribbean remains a popular choice. Dominican citizens, for instance, are exempt from foreign income and capital gains tax unless you reside in Dominica for more than half the year. Residents enjoy 0% personal income tax, and you’re also free from wealth and inheritance tax. The ROI couldn’t be clearer: those tax benefits can easily outweigh the cost of securing Dominican citizenship, which starts from only USD 100,000.
4. Opportunities for posterity: Tax might play a major role in securing your wealth for posterity, but other things are just as important as financial inheritance. What about inheritance of opportunity? Of ideas? We all want our children to grow up with the best of everything, and second citizenship can facilitate that.
Education is particularly worth your attention, as Europe is known for its many exceptional universities. These include the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London – all three of which are top ten global universities according to the Times World University Rankings 16/17.
Education is particularly worth your attention, as Europe is known for its many exceptional universities.
Consider the University of Oxford – the best university in the world, according to the World University Ranking. As of 2017 EU citizens pay a tuition fee of GBP 9,250 annually, which can be fully funded by a loan from the UK government. On the other hand, international students must pay up to GBP 23,190 plus a GBP 7,350 college fee, without the same loan offering. On those fees, across a four-year degree you would save around GBP 85,000 on university fees alone.
Britain’s ongoing Brexit negotiations are still in progress, but it seems likely that EU citizens would continue to enjoy priority over worldwide citizens. In addition, there are many Top 50 universities across the rest of Europe, with those in Germany and Sweden scoring particularly highly.
Then you’ve got the long-term benefit of having a degree from a top university: a well-rounded and culturally rich international education alongside the world’s elite. Tomorrow’s global leaders can often be traced back to their university days in the likes of Oxford and Cambridge. Not bad, given you can secure European citizenship from only EUR 195,000 in Bulgaria. The ROI of European citizenship could be a European education that sets your children up for life.
5. Political stability: I talk often about second citizenship as an insurance policy. It’s one that hopefully you never need to use, but sadly we live in a world with no guarantees. UN statistics show that forced displacement is at an all-time high, with 65.3 million people displaced in 2015 because of conflict and persecution, not including natural disaster (which has displaced 26.4 million people since 2008). Citizenship in the likes of Dominica – 14th on the Global Political Stability Index – offers the closest thing to a guarantee that the world has to offer.
Arguably the biggest ROI you’ll get from second citizenship, then, is the ability to safeguard the future for you and those you care about. Second citizenship can offer a refuge should you, or your loved ones, ever need it. You will struggle to put a price on that.
6. Standard of living: Many second citizenship programmes are set up such that you needn’t travel to, let alone live in, the country where you’re seeking citizenship. Nonetheless, the ability to live in-country is an advantage of all second citizenship programmes.
The ROI of your investment could be a peaceful retirement, full of white sand beaches and turquoise seas – for example, Malta and Portugal are top ten 2017 retirement destinations according to the Annual Global Retirement Index. It could be a laughter-filled holiday home, or a second home-from-home. It could be a totally different pace of life, waking up each morning to the gentle hum of community in a politically settled nation. Portugal is 12th on the 2016 KOF Globalisation index, for instance, and Cyprus is 14th. Malta, Portugal and Cyprus all have thriving citizenship-by-investment programmes, which entitle you and your family to live, work, learn, travel and access care across Europe. It could mean better amenities, more equality, and greater acceptance. Those are difficult returns to quantify but many investors consider them invaluable.
The ROI of your investment could be a peaceful retirement, full of white sand beaches and turquoise seas – for example, Malta and Portugal are top ten 2017 retirement destinations according to the Annual Global Retirement Index.
Second Citizenship – a worthy investment
The ROI of second citizenship makes a pretty convincing business case. For international businesspeople, it secures you the global agility that is fast becoming a business necessity. Second citizenship allows you to capitalise on some genuinely extraordinary tax advantages, to secure your wealth for the future. It allows you to secure a future of opportunity, cultural richness and stability for your loved ones, and to enjoy those benefits yourself today.
Those are the potential returns. So what’s the investment? Significantly less than you might think. Some of the Caribbean programmes start from an initial investment around the USD 100,000 mark – a cost most investors see back in tax benefits alone. There are even financing options available that can bring that cost down further still. Plus, most programmes offer a portfolio of investment choices, so you’re not necessarily looking at a non-refundable financial donation. Real estate is a common investment vehicle, as is business – both of which are feasible investment opportunities in their own right. In those instances, citizenship is essentially an added sweetener to an already-attractive opportunity, which makes the ROI even more impressive.
So what’s the catch? You’re forgiven for asking, because it does sometimes seem too good to be true. There really isn’t one though. In the vast majority of cases, securing second citizenship is simple. As long as you hold a clean criminal record and can meet your financial obligations, you’re not facing any restrictions here. And it’s fast – taking only three months, in most cases. Those things considered, next to the dramatic ROI potential, it’s no wonder that an estimated USD 2 billion is invested in second citizenship annually.
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