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Brexit and 2nd passports

One likely unforeseen and unintended consequence of the Brexit vote is a frantic search for a 2nd passport. With the fear that they will be shuttered out of the EU for good, many UK citizens are making inquiries into citizenship requirements of other EU countries. Many EU country embassies in the UK have reported receiving record number of phone calls in the last several weeks inquiring about their citizenship application process.

For those of you unaffected by the Brexit vote, obtaining a 2nd passport has advantages. First, obtaining a 2nd passport can help with visa-free travel. Entering a country without needing a visa can be extremely valuable. Visas applications are typically lengthy and require advanced planning. They are often expensive too. Holding a passport from a country the provides visa-free travel to numerous countries allows for easy travel planning. Second, holding a 2nd passport can provide tax benefits. Finally, a 2nd passport can open access to foreign financial markets that might otherwise be closed to you. This article will focus on the visa-free travel benefit. The tax and market benefits will be discussed in a future writing.

How does someone go about obtaining a 2nd passport?

Often the easiest and fastest way to acquire a 2nd passport is by proving your parent or grandparent is a citizen of the 2nd passport country. Also in most countries, legal residency for a prescribed period of time makes one eligible for citizenship. Finally, several countries offer a direct citizenship by investment scheme. These programs vary on the amount and type of investment required and were implemented primarily to infuse capital into cash-strapped or fragile economies. Current countries offering a direct citizenship by investment scheme are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda

  • Cyprus

  • Dominica

  • Grenada

  • Malta

  • Kitts and Nevis

  • Lucia

*Immediate means citizenship is conveyed upon approval of citizenship by investment application.

Other countries offer a fast-track citizenship scheme with a financial investment. Although citizenship does not occur quickly, if you have considerable money to invest and want a higher value passport than the countries shown above, then these countries deserve a serious look.

  • Austria – Although there is no official statute/law/application process and the Austrian government has expressly denied a citizenship by investment scheme, it has happened and is believed that an investment in the neighborhood of 10 million Euros is required along with approval from the Austrian government.

  • Bulgaria – One of the newest EU countries, an investment of approximately 1 million Euros, along with one year of permanent residency, will put you on the fast track to citizenship in Bulgaria. Eligibility for citizenship usually occurs within 2 years. A Bulgarian passport allows for all the travel and employment benefits afforded to EU citizens.

  • Hungary – With a 300,000 Euro investment, permanent residency in this EU country can be obtained in under 30 days. Applying for citizenship follows approximately 5 years later, compared to the 7-8 years required for non-investors.

If acquiring a 2nd passport is something that may be valuable to you, do your research and contact an immigration attorney to determine which scheme is best for you.