Second Passports – Don’t Leave Home Without Two!

Don’t leave home without one? The savvy business traveller these days doesn’t leave home without two or three passports. That was the conclusion of a recent article in the New York Times called Carrying a Second Passport? It’s not just for spies covering the advantages of travel with multiple passports, second citizenships and naturalization. According to the article, for example, many people don’t even realize that they already hold dual nationality and are therefore entitled to carry a second passport from a foreign country. Others are unaware that they can completely legally buy a second passport through a so-called “Economic Citizenship” program…

One example quoted is Alessandro Pappalardo, a NYC-based artist who travels on passports from Italy and Argentina. He recently added an American passport to his portfolio. Previously employed by an airline in South America, Pappalardo says: “I used to go a lot to Brazil, and I would always decide what passport to show depending on what line was shorter.”

Another example quoted in the Times article is Stefan Stefanov, who holds citizenship of the USA and Bulgaria while his business is in Poland. He picks the right passport depending on where he is headed for. “Of course, I don’t hide that I am a U.S. citizen,” says Setfanov. “But I don’t parade it either.”

Although statistics are hard to find, as globalisation continues apace and American citizens frequently feel discrimated against or targeted on foreign trips, more Americans seem want additional passports than ever before “Savvy travelers and business travelers want to make sure they have two passports based on nationality because there are certain advantages,” says Jan Dvorak, president of Travisa, a passport services company in Washington, D.C., quoted in the Times article.

What is the greatest advantage to holding a second passport? For the sovereign individual, the greatest advantage is surely the legal right to work without restriction in various countries – a particular benefit of passports from countries in the European Union. Also, says Dvorak, carrying a second passport is “a way of hiding where one has been,” when traveling among countries with soured relations – for example between Israel and Arab countries.

So how can you actually obtain a second passport? As a first step, to obtain a second passport you must become a citizen of the target country. Once that is completed, the process of applying for a second passport is relatively easy. Of course, it’s qualifying for the second citizenship that is the difficult part. But there are ways, even if you don’t have Irish, British, Italian or German ancestors (those are amongst the countries known to be most generous in giving out passports to US citizens based on ancestry). Israel, for example, allows anyone of Jewish heritage to use what is called aliyah, or the ‘Law of Return’. This grants instant Israeli citizenship to anyone of Jewish ancestry or anyone who converts to Judaism.

Ruth Yoffe is another example quoted in the Times article who also carries a second passport. Yoffe is the founder of Reloop Designs, a business that hires handicapped people in Cambodia to weave baskets from waste plastic. As a citizen of the United States and New Zealand, she travels frequently throughout Southeast Asia. “For obvious safety reasons, I always try and travel and put my visas on my New Zealand passport,” she said. “On a plane, I don’t want to be identified as an American if I have that choice, depending on where I am heading.”

Another advantage is that visas cost less for New Zealanders than for Americans. “They assume anyone else from any other country can’t be as rich” as Americans, Ms. Yoffe said. Many countries such as Brazil charge extra fees to Americans to reciprocate on the cost of obtaining a US visa for citizens of that country.

Alex Thomas, the corporate manager of Travel Document Systems, a visa and passport services company in Washington, explains in the article how some of his clients are “uneasy traveling with a U.S. passport, and if they have an additional passport, they prefer to use it…. four or five people a month who ask specifically what they need to do to get a passport” for another country… Because of the way things are going in the world,” he said, he expects that number to rise. In other words, the demand for second passports is at an all time high!

What the New York Times piece fails to cover, however, probably out of respect for editorial guidelines and political correctness, is the fact that any businessperson who wishes can simply buy a second passport. So called “Economic Citizenship” programs allow wealthy individuals and families to purchase a second citizenship from a country such as St Kitts and Nevis or Dominica. The only requirement to obtain one of these passports is to make an economic investment in the country.

Although expensive, these high end economic citizenship programs are often worthwhile for wealthy individuals who do not have the time or inclination to wait the two to five years necessary to establish residence in another country and apply for citizenship via naturalization in one of the more liberal countries for obtaining second passports such as Dominican Republic or Paraguay. Additionally, they have the advantage of being completely tax free and not being mired in bureaucracy or military service obligations.

Englishman Peter Macfarlane is an author and lecturer on offshore finance, investment, due diligence and wealth creation matters. After fifteen years advising high net worth clients on offshore asset protection structures such as companies, trusts and private interest foundations, he decided on a career change and now mentors individuals who are interested in creating, preserving and growing wealth in a secure offshore environment. Peter defines wealth in the broadest sense, believing that money is worthless if you don’t have health and happiness. He is now joint editor of The Q Wealth Report, a publication dedicated to publishing freedom, wealth and privacy information for a select audience. He offers a free sample copy to readers of EzineArticles. You can visit The Q Wealth Report at offshore banking.

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