There was once a time when a passport was not needed to travel. Providing you had the means, you simply went wherever you pleased. Those days are of course long gone but for some people this type of freedom, or something quite close to it, still lives on.
So who are these people who travel with ease? They are those lucky enough to have what’s sometimes called a “strong passport” – one which allows them to enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to most of the world. Basically, they just get on a plane and go.
But what about everyone else? What about the many passport holders, not least those here in the Middle East, who cannot gain easy entry to many other nations around the world? Not only can this be hugely inconvenient on a personal level, but it makes doing business in today’s hyper-connected world far more difficult than it should be.
So what’s the solution?
Second citizenship: For those with the means, obtaining dual nationality is a great way to break free of whatever passport is currently holding you back. Typical investments start at 100,000 USD but depending on the nation of citizenship, a second passport can allow you to travel, invest, do business, bank, buy property and live in a range of countries that would have otherwise been out of reach.
And you’ll be in great company too: Charlize Theron (South Africa and USA), Kirsten Dunst (USA and Germany), Michael Bublé (USA and Italy) and Angelina Jolie (USA and Cambodia) are just some of the stars to boast two passports. And all joking aside, dual citizenship is a fantastic way to open up business opportunity from a Caribbean paradise to some of Europe’s most historically rich nations.
So let’s take a look at eight great places to secure dual citizenship.
Antigua and Barbuda: With a passport boasting visa-free travel to over 130 countries, citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda makes global movement easy. What’s more, for those looking to move fast, a second passport can be secured in as little as three months. As for the cost of claiming citizenship in these idyllic islands, applicants have two primary options: Either a donation of around 200,000 USD to the island’s National Development Fund, or a 400,000 USD real estate investment.
Enjoy visa-free access to over 130 countries including the UK, Canada and all the Schengen states. And that’s far from the only advantage. Full citizenship is granted for life and cannot be revoked; it qualifies the holder to worldwide tax exemption; and extends to children and dependants if you choose to include it in the programme.
Enjoy visa-free access to over 130 countries including the UK, Canada and all the Schengen states. Fun fact about Antigua and Barbuda: Despite only having a population of around 90,000, Antigua and Barbuda has produced several of the world’s greatest cricketers, including Sir Vivian Richards, Richie Richardson, Andy Roberts and Curtly Ambrose.
Bulgaria: Located just to the west of the Black Sea, Bulgaria is ideally located for those looking to do business in both the EU and the Middle East. But this country has far more to offer than simply its location. Bulgaria’s EU passport is incredibly strong and offers visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 149 countries. What’s more, there are no residency or language requirements for those looking to obtain citizenship here.
Permanent residency in Bulgaria can be obtained within just six months, for an initial investment of around 500,000 EUR which is returned to the investor after five years. There is also a fast track option which grants full citizenship within one year, though that requires double the investment. Once complete, new citizens will benefit from all the freedoms and advantages enjoyed by any other EU passport holder.
Fun fact about Bulgaria: Bulgarians shake their heads to mean yes and nod for no – which can be very confusing on a first visit!
Cyprus: Offering one of the fastest European second citizenship schemes, it is hardly surprising that Cyprus is proving to be so popular with outside investors. In just three short months, successful applicants can be in possession of a full EU passport as well as lifetime citizenship which cannot be revoked. For these benefits, investors can expect to spend in the region of 500,000 EUR on real estate, on top of a separate investment into the country of around 2 million EUR.
Dual citizenship holders can say hello to one of the world’s strongest passports, with visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to 157 countries, including the whole of the EU and the UK. New citizens will also benefit from a ready-made and reliable business and tourism infrastructure, all just a stone’s throw from the Middle East.
Fun fact about Cyprus: You can ski and surf on the same trip. The Troodos Mountains are hopping distance from some of the country’s most famous beaches.
Dominica: Requiring approximate investment of 100,000 USD in donation to the government or 220,000 USD in real estate, Dominica boasts one of the most cost-effective second citizenship schemes around. It’s also one of the fastest options too, with lifetime citizenship and a ten-year renewable passport secured in just three months for successful applicants.
All new passport holders will be granted immediate visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 120 countries – including Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the entire Schengen area. Dominica also guarantees lifetime citizenship which cannot be revoked regardless of changes in government and policy. Dominican citizenship also brings with it worldwide tax exemption for all passport holders.
Dominica guarantees lifetime citizenship which cannot be revoked regardless of changes in government and policy. Fun fact about Dominica: The entire island spans just 290 square miles.
Grenada: A mere 200 miles from Dominica is the even smaller island of Grenada, also nestled in the Caribbean Sea. And the similarities don’t end there. Grenada’s dual citizenship scheme comes in at the lower end, with the minimum investment starting at around 350,000 USD. However, the Grenadian scheme is faster than Dominica’s, with citizenship usually processed in as little as two months.
There are no nationality restrictions on applying for Grenadian dual citizenship, nor is there any requirement to live in or even travel to the island during the process of application. Citizens of Grenada also benefit from a strong Commonwealth passport which offers visa-free access to over 110 countries including the UK, Australia, China and all the Schengen states – as well as visa-on-arrival access to many more. There’s good news for the families of new Grenadian nationals too, as the island’s dual citizenship scheme can extend to children and dependants too if you choose to include it in the programme.
Fun fact about Grenada: The small island of Grenada is hugely popular with eco-tourists who flock to the island all year round to live among its lush rain forests and estuaries.
Portugal: While Portuguese residency can be granted in as little as eight weeks, full citizenship involves a longer wait – it is however well worth it. After an investment into real estate of around 350,000 EUR, the applicant can then apply for residency. Unlike other schemes on this list, Portugal does have a physical residency requirement – though it is only seven days per year for six years during the temporary residency period.
Once a resident of Portugal, you’ll be granted immediate access to the Schengen zone through your EU residency card. Those wishing to become full citizens of Portugal can apply to do so on the completion of the six year residency period – and as mentioned, it is very much worth the wait. Portugal boasts one of the world’s strongest passports, granting the holder access to over 170 countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Japan and much of South America.
Portugal boasts one of the world’s strongest passports, granting the holder access to over 170 countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Japan and much of South America.
Fun fact about Portugal: The Portuguese eat more fish per head than any other country in the world – the perfect place for lovers of fruits de mer.
Hungary: The landlocked nation of Hungary offers dual citizens a strong foothold in the centre of Europe. Not only does it provide easy links to the economic heartland of Western Europe but as a member of the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Hungary also provides dual citizens with a dependable and secure base from which to do business. Hungary’s residency scheme requires an investment of around 300,000 EUR – temporary residency can be secured three months after the investment, with permanent residency coming just six months later.
All new Hungarian residents can travel freely within the 26 Schengen countries, which includes France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. As with many dual nationality schemes, there is no need to renounce any previous citizenship, nor are there any physical residency requirements for application.
Fun fact about Hungary: Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe – founded in 896, before France and Germany became separate nations.
St. Kitts and Nevis: We head back to the Caribbean for the last entry on our list, the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis – home to the longest running citizenship-by-investment scheme in the world. For those wishing to be part of a new chapter in its history, an investment of around 250,000 USD to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or a real estate purchase of approximately 400,000 USD is required.
As well as being the oldest, the St. Kitts and Nevis scheme is also one of the fastest, and full citizenship and a British Commonwealth passport can be secured in just three months. Once again this passport offers visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to a wealth of countries – 138 in total – including the Schengen area, the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. Additional benefits of St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship include worldwide tax exemption and the ability to extend dual-nationality to children and dependants if you choose to include it in the programme.
Fun fact about St. Kitts and Nevis: The islands – full name Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis – is 1,156 metres above sea level at its highest point and 0 meters at its lowest.
Next Generation Equity specialises in dual citizenship-by-investment and residency-by-investment programmes around the world. To schedule a no obligation consultation.