Many people dream of owning a second passport that lets them travel anywhere in the world without a visa. But obtaining a new citizenship can be a long and tedious process.
And those who look to settle in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom are bogged down by a plethora of paperwork, and they’re often required to live in the country and wait for several years before they can get their hands on a new passport.
However, if you have a lot of money, you don’t need to go through such great lengths. There are a few countries in the world that are more than willing to issue a citizenship and the applicant doesn’t even need to abandon the current home address. And what’s more, these countries process the citizenship within two to six months.
A caveat, though, is that applicants are required to either invest in the host country or contribute a certain amount of money to the local economy in exchange for the second nationality.
“Countries which grant you a second citizenship without immigration, therefore without moving to another country to obtain the citizenship, require some form of investment or contribution to the country’s economy,” said Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.
“The requirements could be investing in real estate or a government-approved project, in government bonds, opening up a company with a minimum number of employees or making a financial contribution to the country’s economy in the form of donation.”
Here’s a quick look at which countries offer a second passport without the need for applicants to immigrate.
One of the most highly recommended destinations, Cyprus can issue a European passport in only six months without requiring applicants to relocate. A Cypriot passport allows citizens to visit more than 100 countries visa-free and offers them a chance to live and work anywhere in the European Union.
Cost: Investment of 2 million euros in luxury real estate, which can be sold after three years.
Number of countries with visa-free access: 145
Antigua & Barbuda
This island state in the eastern Caribbean Sea is reputed for its beaches and rainforests. Wealthy individuals who opt to have a second passport from this country don’t need to move there as well, but they’re required to pay their host a visit for at least five days. That’s not much compared to having to settle in another foreign land for years before acquiring a citizenship, as required in many other destinations.
Cost: US$250,000 contribution to the National Development Fund or an investment of US$400,000 in the country’s government-approved project
Number of countries that offer visa-free access: 129, including Schengen, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong
Those who are able to obtain a second passport from this Caribbean country can also enjoy residency in the United States. Grenada is said to be the only Caribbean state that allows citizens visa-free access to China – something that entrepreneurs can really take advantage of, especially if they have business operations and ties with China. Applicants are not required to relocate.
Cost: US$200,000 contribution to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund
Number of countries with visa-free access: 120, including China, Schengen states and the United Kingdom
Another popular destination in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia offers individuals and their families a chance to get a second citizenship without relocating. Applicants are not even required to visit the country. All they have to do is set aside US$100,000, to get instant visa-free travel to 123 countries worldwide.
Cost: US$100,000 contribution to St. Lucia’s National Economic Fund or an investment in a government-approved project
Number of countries with visa-free access: 123, including Schengen, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong
The country has a citizenship by investment program established since 1991 and it allows full rights in exchange for a sum of US$100,000. Like a few other countries, Dominica doesn’t require applicants to live in the country.
Cost: US$100,000 contribution to Dominica’s government fund
Number of countries with visa-free access: 118
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Another Caribbean country, Saint Kitts & Nevis offers citizenship without requiring applicants to relocate. Passport holders in this country are free to travel to more than 100 destinations worldwide without obtaining a visit visa.
Cost: US$250,000 contribution to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund or a real estate investment of $US400,000 in any government-approved project
Number of countries that offer visa-free access: 129, including Schengen states and United Kingdom
Portugal is ranked as the fourth best passport in the world in Arton Capital's Passport Index. This may be the only country on the list that doesn’t provide instant citizenship, but applicants are not required to actually live there. Interested individuals are first required to obtain a residency card and keep it for a certain period before a citizenship can finally be granted. The card is issued in exchange for an initial investment in real estate.
"According to Portugal’s Citizenship law, investors can apply for the Portuguese citizenship after five years of holding their permanent residency card. This law applies even if individuals were not living in Portugal during the five-year period,” said Cotdemiey.
Cost: Initial investment of 500,000 in property
Number of countries that offer visa-free access: 172