Want a second passport or alternate citizenship?

What it Really Takes to Get a Second Passport

Since 2007, we’ve helped hundreds of clients invest in Citizenship by Investment programs – specifically in Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis.

We have NEVER had a client rejected.

How do we do it?

  • 1
    Because we maintain close relationships with all the people on the ground who are able to keep us informed.
  • 2
    Because we’re able to address the “quirks” that come with each program, from not enough ear showing in a passport photo (yes, that’ll hold up an application) to the need for extra due diligence when sending wires.
  • 3
    Because we meet and, in some cases, exceed the licensing requirements to successfully guide clients through the application process.

Altogether, this gives you confidence, knowing you will get your second passport done the right way, the first time.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Of course, if you’re interested in looking at how to work with us directly to put this together for you, please get in touch with our office at (602) 688-7552 or by email at: service@nestmann.com.

But for now, let’s jump right in.

Why You Should Consider a Second Citizenship

There are many reasons to get a second citizenship. But in a word, it’s about freedom.

Your passport is the property of the government that issued it. If your government decides it doesn’t want you to travel internationally, it can simply revoke your passport.

That’s not just for criminals either. The US State Department can legally take your passport if it wants. This power is often abused, with many native-born Americans stripped of their passports. In at least one case, their citizenship too.

A second citizenship can save your life. The Nazis took away German citizenship for millions of Jews and shipped them off to concentration camps where most died. Those that had a second passport were able to escape.

More recently, before the brief 2009 war between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza, Israel let those with a foreign passport leave Palestinian territory. Hundreds fled before Israel’s ground forces invaded in a war that left more than 1,000 dead and many more injured.

Now to be fair, we don’t (yet) see something like that happening here in the US – at least not on a large scale. But just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Of course, a second passport also offers you:

For example, a passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica gives you the right to live in Dominica but also in other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), including St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.

Until last year, Malta offered a Citizenship by Investment program that gave you the right to live, work and study anywhere in the European Union.

A second passport also reduces your profile to terrorists. Unlike the US, many other countries have no enemies. Their governments don’t have troops stationed in more than 100 countries and they aren’t launching cruise missiles.

And finally – a second citizenship helps you prepare for expatriation – giving up your US citizenship and passport. For Americans, this is the only way to permanently and legally eliminate US tax and reporting obligations on your worldwide income and estate.

Clearly, almost everyone can benefit from a second citizenship and passport. Wouldn’t you feel safer if you had a second passport stashed away – just in case?

But which Second Passport is right for you?

Some people are lucky enough to claim a second citizenship through their parents. But many do not. In that case, they must qualify for it in one of the following ways:

Ancestral Right

Certain countries allow descendants (usually children or grandchildren) of a former citizen to claim citizenship for themselves. Among our US clients, Italy and Poland are the most common, although there are plenty of countries that offer such programs.

Family

Some countries allow the spouse of a citizen to claim citizenship by marriage – either immediately or on some sort of fast-track residency permit.

Religion

Those with a certain religion – Judaism and Thai Buddhism specifically – are able to claim Israeli or Thai citizenship based on that religion.

Long-term residency

Also called naturalization, this is by far the most common path in the migration business. People enter a country and start with either a visa or a permanent residency. After a certain period of time, and after fulfilling certain requirements, you can apply for citizenship. Almost every country in the world offers a path to citizenship this way.

Citizenship by Investment

A country offers citizenship to individuals who meet certain basic requirements and are willing to either invest in or donate to the local economy.

The remainder of this article will focus on these Citizenship by Investment, or CBI, programs. That’s because – for those that can afford it – it’s the fastest, easiest way to enjoy the freedom that comes with knowing you can leave when you want to.

But first, I need to clear something up.

Getting a second passport will NOT lower your tax bill

Many people seem to have the idea that just getting a second passport will automatically lower their tax bill or allow them to suddenly lose the restrictions that come with being an American citizen.

That’s simply not true.

The United States is almost unique in the requirement that citizens pay taxes on their worldwide income simply because they’re American. So even if you get a second passport and leave the US permanently, you’re still required to pay taxes and file paperwork at home.

The only legal way to completely break free of Uncle Sam is to formally expatriate and give up your US passport.

That’s a BIG decision and not to be made lightly. And this isn’t the place to have such a discussion, but you should be aware.

There are lots of good reasons to get a second passport, but tax savings isn’t it.

And assuming that’s not the case, you might be asking:

What makes one program better than another? Ask yourself...

“How much Visa-free and Visa-on-arrival access does it give?”

That’s the most objective value of any second passport. Because getting a visa to go somewhere can be a pain in the neck. A second passport with lots of this “VIP” access is thus better than one with less.

Countries like Japan, Singapore and Germany can get you almost everywhere without a hassle – around 190 countries. People from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan find it hardest to travel.

Most of the citizenship by investment programs mostly fall in the upper-middle range. The best one, from Saint Kitts & Nevis, lets you travel to 157 countries within minimal or no entry requirements at all.

“What sort of 'prestige' does it offer?”

Some passports are seen as more valuable than others. It’s more than just a question of visa-free access.

For example, on the face of it, New Zealand, Swiss and American passports
give access to 187 countries each. They’re equally as valuable in this sense.

But if you had to choose one for travel, which one would it be? Probably not the one from the US.

Thanks to our government’s foreign policy, there are plenty of people overseas who don’t much like Americans. But few people think badly of the Swiss or the New Zealanders.

Most of the passports that come with Citizenship by Investment programs fall into that boat. Few people think badly of passport holders from Dominica, St. Lucia or St. Kitts & Nevis.

“How easy is it to get?”

Some countries make it almost impossible to claim citizenship, no matter how long you live there. Others – like Singapore – just make it very difficult.

But most countries have a well-defined path that’s really about “checking the boxes.” Some countries have strict requirements to actually live in-country. Others require your neighbors to “vote” you in. A few require a basic knowledge of the local language before they’ll give you citizenship.

That’s a big advantage of the Citizenship by Investment programs. So long as you have a clean criminal record and meet a few basic requirements, the process is very straightforward. No residency. No language tests. The best ones don’t even require a visit.

“How long does it take?”

This is an important consideration. Most countries make you wait years to qualify under the normal way.

Citizenship by Investment programs are designed for speed. Your time from start to finish is measured in months, not years.

“Do they allow dual citizenship?”

Many countries (including the US) allow their citizens to have more than one citizenship. But not all do.

This is an important issue that isn’t promoted well enough. Because if you apply for a second passport from a country that doesn’t allow you to have more than one, you could get yourself into trouble.

All of the Citizenship by Investment options do. Make sure that any country you’re considering does too.

“How much does it cost?”

Cost is a factor for many second passport clients. There’s always a price.

If it’s ancestry, unless your family kept really good records going back decades (or longer), it will take a lot of time to put together the documentation and deal with government offices.

If it’s by naturalization, you’re going to pay in terms of time (by living there for some years) and money paid to the foreign government for paperwork processing. Plus, whatever you pay to consultants to help you get through the process.

If it’s Citizenship by Investment, there’s no time cost but you will have to put in some money. Broadly, there are two types – the “investment” (such as donations, real estate, or government bonds), and the “others” (legal, processing and security fees mostly). Depending on your family and who’s applying, that can add up to a few hundred thousand dollars.

“What do you plan to do with it?”

The answer will tell you which second citizenship makes the most sense for you.

That answer is unique to you and depends on, among other things:

… and so on.

Find the Right Second Passport Firm: How to Tell the Good from the Bad

Now, I’ll admit the following list is biased because it’s what we and our clients consider important in any offshore service provider.

Still, if you’re looking at different people to help you get a second passport, consider a firm with:

A stellar track record

Avoid people with limited experience, even if they’re cheaper. Because if you are ever formally rejected, it’s nearly impossible to qualify for any other program. It pays to work with a firm who knows how to get these things done.

We’ve never had a formal rejection in the 14 years we’ve helped clients get a second passport. We don’t know of any other firm who can say that, although a few are close.

Experience in working with clients like you

Different companies attract different sorts of clients. Over time, that gives them more experience serving a very specific sort of application. Work with the one that best fits your situation.

There are broadly three types:

At the Nestmann Group, we would LOVE to work with more traditional highly-paid employees because they’re easier.

But in truth, most of our Citizenship by Investment clients are either business owners or investors. Over the past 14 years, we’ve built up a lot of valuable experience to guide such applications through.

You will want to work with someone who has that same level of know-how. By doing so, you’ll enjoy a smoother, faster and much easier experience.

Look for “licensed persons”

You can also pick the right provider by understanding the different sorts of players out there. Within this world, you have:

Third-party sales people: They have clients who are referred to a properly registered firm for a commission. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but such people don’t really have access to the inner workings of a program. That’s not a problem if everything runs smoothly. But if there are problems, rarely can the salesperson do much.

International marketing agents: These groups are registered with a Citizenship by Investment Unit and can officially market their program. This registration gives them access to help within the government to deal with any hiccups that might come up as an application makes its way through the process.

By the way, all marketing agents MUST work with  “licensed persons” (explained below).

Licensed persons: These groups – usually a law firm or trust company registered in a country that offers a program – have the legal right to officially process an application together with the local CIU. If you choose to work with someone with this designation directly, there’s a much better chance you’ll get superior service.

The Nestmann Group specializes in two programs, St. Kitts & Nevis and Dominica – the oldest and second oldest programs respectively.

In the case of Dominica, we carry a “licensed person” designation – the only US-based firm with that ability, actually. (Please contact us for verification.)

In the case of St. Kitts & Nevis, the Nestmann Group is registered as an International Marketing Agent. However, our sister company, Fortress Trust, is registered as a “licensed person.”

Those registrations – along with 14 years of experience with these program – give us access to all the resources we need to succeed with the more challenging business owners and investor applications.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

It seems to have slowed down a bit in the last few years but there are still a lot of scam artists in this business. So if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

But if you do your homework, follow the tips above and verify a firm’s registration with the proper governmental bodies, you will be able to find the right firm to help you get your own second passport.

Avoid the cheapest players

There’s often a reason they’re so cheap. Maybe they don’t have much experience. Maybe they offer little or no client service. Or maybe they’re getting kickbacks from somewhere else.

At least in this business, it pays to invest in the right guide.

Ready to Learn More?

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of whether second passport might be right for you.

If it is, I’ve got a few more things to share. In this Nestmann Report, you’ll get:

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