Your U.S. Passport: A Terrorist Beacon

There’s no longer any doubt that if you use a U.S. passport to travel internationally, you may well become a terrorist target.

The attacks last week in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, proved that conclusively. The gunmen who carried out the attacks took dozens of hostages, and specifically singled out anyone with a U.S. or British passport. At least two Americans died in the attacks.

At Mumbai’s landmark Taj Hotel, two heavily armed men took 15 people hostage, forcing them to the hotel roof.  A British businessman who escaped said the gunmen “were saying they wanted anyone with British or American passports.”

The scenario at the nearby Oberoi Hotel was almost identical.  A British citizen dining at a restaurant in the hotel reported that armed men forced dozens of people into a stairwell.  “They were talking about British and Americans specifically,” he recounted.  Other nationalities were left alone.  When the gunmen asked one of the victims “Where are you from,” he replied “Italy.”  According to the eyewitness, the kidnappers said, “fine,” and left him alone.

The fact that your passport may be a terrorist beacon is just one more reason you may wish to consider acquiring a second passport.  Under U.S. law, it’s perfectly legal to do so, and in a terrorist situation, having a second passport may literally save your life.

There are many other benefits as well.  A second passport can also expand your travel options, give you the right to reside in other countries, and allow you to cross international borders if your primary passport is lost or stolen. For Americans, a second passport has another benefit.  It is an essential prerequisite to expatriation; i.e., giving up U.S. citizenship in order to permanently disconnect from U.S. taxing authority.

If you don’t qualify for a second passport by virtue of your ancestry, religious affiliation, or marital status, a handful of countries offer "instant" citizenship in return for an economic contribution:

  • Commonwealth of Dominica.  Under this country's economic citizenship program, you may acquire citizenship and passport in return for a cash contribution of $75,000. A $100,000 contribution entitles you, your spouse, and two minor children to citizenship. Legal, due diligence, and processing fees add approximately $30,000 to the cost. Dominican passport holders can travel without a visa, or obtain a visa upon entry, to nearly 90 countries and territories.
  • Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.  You can obtain economic citizenship in this country if you purchase qualifying real estate or make a contribution foundation.  For numerous reasons, the latter option is more practical for most applicants.  The cost for a single applicant under this option is $200,000, or $250,000 for an applicant with up to three dependants. Legal, due diligence, and processing fees add a minimum of $20,000 to the cost. St. Kitts & Nevis passport holders can travel without a visa, or obtain a visa upon entry, to nearly 110 countries.

In both of these economic citizenship programs, applicants must pass a strict vetting process that includes a comprehensive criminal background check.

The Nestmann Group, Ltd. can assist individuals seeking legitimate alternative citizenship and tax-advantaged residence options. Please contact us for more information.


Copyright © 2008 by Mark Nestmann

Update: The minimum cost for a St. Kitts & Nevis passport, including all fees, is now approximately $60,000 higher than noted in this post.

(An earlier version of this post was published by The Sovereign Society.)

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