As an international entrepreneur, do you ever feel boxed in?
It’s enough that you are contending with fluctuating exchange rates, volatile markets, multiple time zones as well as economic and political changes – so the last thing you need is another obstacle when doing business.
However, many entrepreneurs across the Arab world have to contend with just that – in the shape of their passport.
When you are making deals in every corner of the world, you want to be able to travel across markets with little to no hassle. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. The type of passport you possess has a huge bearing on where in the world you can go, and with whom you can do business. This limits opportunities for investments, business partnerships and tax efficiency.
What’s more, even if you can get to your chosen destination, the likelihood is you’ll require a visa. Anyone who has applied for a visa knows the process is often long-winded and time-consuming, not to mention hugely inconvenient if a time-sensitive in-person business meeting is required.
Many countries around the world welcome citizens from other nations to hold dual nationality with them in return for investment, usually in government bonds or real estate. A brief look at rankings of the most desirable passports puts those from Europe at the top and it doesn’t take a genius to guess which countries tend to fare less well on this front. In fact, with so much political instability around the world, it can easily go from bad to worse when it comes to the usefulness of passports from certain countries for international business.
So let’s get to the good news: Many countries around the world welcome citizens from other nations to hold dual nationality with them in return for investment, usually in government bonds or real estate. For those with the means, these second citizenship schemes can open up a world of opportunity.
Naturally, with such an important decision, making sure you take the right advice and guidance on which second citizenship is right for you is crucial. But if you’re unsure whether this is something you want to explore further, here are six key benefits of having the right passport – and how it can help you reach your international business goals.
1. Visa-free travel to key locations: Perhaps the primary reason many wealthy entrepreneurs opt for second citizenship is the ease with which it allows international travel, affording the same freedoms of movement as any other holder of the same document.
Citizens of Portugal, for example, can get visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) access to around 172 countries. The number of countries you can freely travel between without a visa will of course depend on where you have taken second citizenship. So for example, holders of Cypriot passports can travel freely between approximately 157 countries while citizens of Portugal can get visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) access to around 172 countries.
2. Tax benefits: Any potential tax benefits of second citizenship will depend largely on the country you are from and your country of second citizenship. Some countries around the world, particularly in the Caribbean, offer much lower tax rates than many developed countries. Therefore, becoming a second citizen of such a country may present opportunities for greater tax efficiency. There is also the potential to classify any expense associated with your citizenship application (such as travel between the two countries) as a business expense, lowering your tax liabilitity.
Dual nationality and tax affairs are not always plain sailing. Many countries require citizens to pay taxes on money earned overseas, meaning dual citizens may be liable to pay tax in two countries. Again, getting professional advice here is vital to ensure you don’t experience any problems along the way.
3. Banking and investment: Another key advantage to second citizenship is the wealth of business and investment opportunities it can open up. Many countries do not allow foreign investment from certain nations. Therefore, some foreign nationals may not be able to take advantage of generous interest or exchange rates or be allowed to invest in lucrative property markets, such as those in Europe.
So keep in mind that second citizenship not only allows you financial access to the country of your second citizenship, but in most cases many more as well.
4. Avoiding political and economic instability: It goes without saying that any political or economic unrest in your home country is a worst-case scenario. But with the current geopolitical and economic landscape being as it is, such incidents need to be considered. Here, second citizenship has two clear advantages: Should the country where your business is based undergo any significant financial, social or political upheaval, you have the option of relocating your assets to another more stable country.
This is far easier when you have second citizenship. In addition, having second citizenship can provide you with an escape route from any potential conflict, civil unrest, or travel sanctions imposed upon your home country.
Again, this is an absolute worst-case scenario, but should your home country become unsafe, you can leave to live and work in more secure surroundings without time-consuming bureaucracy.
5. Greater reach: While it may be obvious, one of the major advantages of second citizenship is the greater access it gives to millions of potential customers. As many countries only allow their own citizens to do business, obtaining second citizenship means you can not only do business in that country, but also trade with the many others that your country of second citizenship gives you access to – essentially becoming a gateway to the wider business world.
What’s more, depending on your chosen second citizenship, visa-free travel to a host of countries around the world makes forming relationships and doing business face-to-face virtually hassle free.
6. Lifestyle and generational benefits: The last entry on our list may not be strictly business, but let’s be honest, we all need to make time to relax. Choose to become a citizen of a more exotic location such as the Caribbean and you will benefit from unlimited, visa-free travel to and from your own tropical paradise – perfect for a last-minute vacation.
For those looking more long term, second citizenship also opens up opportunity to retire abroad, put the business life behind you, and relax in pastures new. And finally, all these benefits do not necessarily stop with you. Depending on the citizenship requirements of your chosen country, you may be able to pass on the benefits of dual citizenship to your children and grandchildren.
So there you have it: A whistle stop tour of six key benefits of second citizenship. As technology and infrastructure continue to connect us at a rapid pace, the business world is becoming smaller by the day. There are very few high-value companies in the modern age who do business solely within their own borders, so for the international entrepreneur with a limited passport it can be frustrating to face so many obstacles and restrictions.
While gaining second citizenship can be complex and require a substantial investment along with professional guidance, it can be a small price to pay for the potential advantages on offer.
It opens up a whole new world to both individuals and businesses.
Next Generation Equity specialises in dual citizenship-by-investment and residency-by-investment programmes around the world. To schedule a no obligation consultation