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August 01, 2017

How much does your current passport limit your travel?

How much does your current passport limit your travel
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Neil Petch

Chairman of Virtugroup

Moving around the globe without restrictions is something many people take for granted. Some citizens can travel to 150+ countries with ease, thanks to their highly-ranked passports. For others, the number is less than 30.

How your passport ranks can have a huge impact on your personal and professional life, affecting everything from where you go on holiday to the agility of your business.

So let’s look more closely at the implications of limited global freedom – and then explore how second citizenship can offer a potential solution.

How limited is your global freedom, and why should you care?

Some nationalities never think about global mobility, because they don’t need to. German passport holders, for example, can travel to 158 countries visa-free or on visa-on-arrival terms. Singapore, the same. Sweden and South Korea, 157 each. At 156 we have countries including the UK, USA, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, and more.

If you hold a passport from one of these countries, or others that rank highly, global mobility probably isn’t a huge concern. You simply decide where to go, book your flight, and head to the airport. But what if your passport is from India, Pakistan, Morocco, Angola, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or any number of other countries that don’t enjoy the international relationships needed to secure easy travel?

Let’s look at some numbers: Pakistani citizens can only travel to 25 countries on visa-free or visa-on-arrival terms; for Yemen, Iran and Bangladesh the number is 35; meanwhile Lebanon and Libya are at 37; jumping up slightly we have China at 57, Saudi Arabia at 69, and Qatar at 79. The list goes on. While citizens of Europe and America tend to have expansive global freedom, citizens from Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East are often far more restricted.

So why does this matter?

Well, there are tangible costs associated with this lack of freedom.

Business opportunities and global movement

From a business perspective, opportunity knows no border – those seeking to capitalise must be likewise agile or risk missing out altogether. That’s why the PricewaterhouseCoopers Modern Mobility study reports 98% of global executives surveyed agree that global mobility is essential to business.

That’s not just the case if you’re interested in international expansion. You needn’t own a huge international corporation to capitalise on global mobility. Rather, international mobility is about being able to go wherever you need to go to further your business interests. That might mean travelling to interview someone for your executive team; it could be attending a business meeting with investors abroad; or it may be stopping over for a night before re-routing elsewhere so you arrive well rested and ready to do business.

In any case, the point stands: certain passports open doors; certain passports close them.

Certain passports open doors; certain passports close them.

Opening closed doors with second citizenship

If you hold, for example, a passport from Nepal, you could wait weeks for visa clearance for a meeting in Germany. The pace of business often doesn’t allow for that much pre-planning. So, you end up turning down the meeting, sending someone else in your place, or admitting you’re facing visa restrictions outside your control. Not ideal.

The majority of passports face visa-restrictions at some point, but some worse than others. The question you have to ask is how much that affects your ability to do business, your reputation and your international standing.

Then there’s the personal side. Even if you don’t need to conduct business abroad, you may simply want to travel. Research shows the total global economic contribution of travel and tourism was more than USD 7.6tr in 2016 – that’s a lot of global movement. If you’re one of those travellers then a restrictive passport limits your destination list – in some cases quite dramatically.

Say you would like to take your partner on a romantic tour of Italy: Venetian gondolas on the canal; Florence for the art; fine dining on the Amalfi coast; history fix in Rome; Milan, for high fashion. Fabulous.

Except, that experience isn’t easily available to some passport holders, not without jumping through multiple bureaucratic hoops to get there. Forgot your wedding anniversary? No last minute booking to make amends, that’s for sure.

And what if you want to go travelling, as opposed to holidaying? For example, European citizens can live, work or travel across the entire 28-state European Union without concern. Fancy a year’s sabbatical to learn Spanish? Some passports make that easy. Or a six-month vineyard tour in France. Or a networking tour of the San Francisco tech scene. Global mobility means freedom, whatever your passions and wherever you want to pursue them.

Global mobility means freedom, whatever your passions and wherever you want to pursue them.

So let’s look at how second citizenship can offer a solution to this issue.

Second citizenship offers freedom of movement

Second citizenship has numerous advantages, but one of the most compelling has to be the implications for global travel. The equation is simple: your investment gains you a second nationality, and a second passport to accompany that. You can travel using that second passport with the same freedoms as natural-born citizens.

How much difference can that make?

It depends which citizenship-by-investment programme you choose. If global mobility is your main priority, your decision will tend to come down to finances. The more you’re able to invest, the greater the global mobility advantages you can unlock.

Read more: Which second citizenship programme should I choose?

If your budget is more restricted, the Caribbean programmes are your best starting point. St. Lucian citizenship starts from only USD 100,000 non-refundable donation, or Dominican citizenship offers 75% financing on a USD 200,000 investment. Grenadian citizenship starts from USD 200,000 with a donation into the Grenadian National Transformation Fund, or a USD 350,000 real estate purchase.

What do you get for your investment? St Lucian citizens can travel to 120 countries on visa-free or visa-on-arrival terms. Dominican citizens, 115. Grenada, 119. All three are in the top 35% of global passports. Plus, Grenada is one of only 11 countries to allow visa-free travel to the Republic of China.

Read more: Top Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programmes

Those figures are impressive, but that’s still just the start. Look at the European citizenship programmes and you get even greater returns. Portuguese passport holders can travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival to 155 countries. Bulgarians, to 143. Cypriots, to 146. All three secure you European citizenship, with the concordant benefits.

That extra global mobility does demand an additional financial investment though. It’s all a balance between what you can afford and your priorities.

There is the Portuguese golden visa programme, which offers a number of investment options between EUR 250,000 and EUR 1m. The Bulgarian citizenship programme starts at around EUR 512,000, and increases if you fast track. You’re looking at EUR 2m for Cypriot second citizenship, but the process moves much more quickly than the other European programmes.

Read more:Top European citizenship-by-investment programmes

Whichever citizenship you consider, they all offer considerable benefits in terms of global mobility. You’ll really notice the difference if your current passport is more restricted.

Moreover, these benefits extend beyond your lifetime. As with any naturally inherited citizenship, you can pass your acquired citizenship onto your children. If you invest in Portuguese citizenship now, for instance, your children’s children’s children will be Portuguese. Second citizenship doesn’t just break global travel barriers for you; it’s the ultimate inheritance for generations to come.

As with any naturally inherited citizenship, you can pass your acquired citizenship onto your children.

So how do you get second citizenship?

The process is simple. If this is the path for you, you could have your new passport within only three months. That timeline can vary though, depending which programme you choose. With the exception of Cyprus, the European programmes take longer than their Caribbean counterparts.

The requirements are relatively minimal – usually you just need to pass a background and criminal record check, show your wealth is legally gained, and that you have a clean bill of health. In some cases, you need to travel to the country in-person, but for others you can apply entirely remotely. A specialist in second citizenship can guide you through the entire application, ensuring the process remains clear and simple.

Second citizenship: a life-changing investment

Second citizenship is an option reserved for the world’s financial elite but if you’re in a position to invest, this isn’t just an addition to your portfolio. It is an investment that’s genuinely life changing.

Next Generation Equity is a government-approved provider of second citizenship and residency programmes tailored to the individual needs of discerning clients across the globe. To learn more about our programmes, please sign up for a free consultation via the form below.

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