Different Ways to Get That Second Passport
Is it the end of June already?
My goodness, we’ve arrived at the 2021 halfway point much faster than I thought we would. On the other hand, maybe I’m just getting older and not noticing time flying as fast as I used to.
To those of you who’ve written to the Rude mailbag: thank you! Your kind words and questions have given me many ideas to carry on with.
I’m going to stay with the passport theme, as many good questions have come in that I’d like to answer for the wider group.
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…
“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”
There are plenty of ways to skin this passport cat. The key is to find the easiest, most convenient way for you.
For instance, I received a great question from Rude reader Don on Monday:
I’ve been ready to get another passport. Is it just about applying, or do I have to have an ancestry connection to the country? Portugal would be my only option, or can I also apply for an Italian passport?
Ancestry is one way and perhaps the easiest way. However, if you don’t have any ancestors from the country you’d like to apply to, there are other ways.
The European Union is Different
The European Union, for all its faults, has one great thing going for it. If you possess a passport from any one of the member countries, you can live in any of the member countries.
For example, I can live in France, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, or any other of the 27 member countries with my Italian passport. I can also live in Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland.
There are no visa requirements. They’ve tried to copy the American model where you can live in any state if you’re an American citizen.
But it’s not an absolute right in every EU country. Freedom of movement within the EU pertains to those who are looking to work. There are limitations based on public security considerations, public policy, public health grounds, and employment in the public sector.
The bottom line is if you get an EU passport, you have freedom of movement throughout the union as long as you’re working or looking to work.
The Different Ways to Acquire Citizenship
I’ll use my family members and me to make the examples as authentic as possible. And pardon the Latin. I’m not doing it to show off. Many countries still use Latin in their legal language, so it’s better you know what’s what.
Citizenship by Birth
Latin: Jur solis. The one you’ve got. I know you know what this one is. But it’s essential if you have, or are planning to have, kids.
Birthright citizenship in the US works two ways: if you’re born on US soil or born to an American citizen parent abroad.
I became a US citizen the second I popped out of my dear mother in New Jersey. Anyone born to any person in the United States is a US citizen. This is what gives rise to both Oops Americans and anchor babies.
Oops Americans are children of people who were in America temporarily and had no intention of settling there. The children – the Oops Americans – are US citizens even if they haven’t spend a day in the US afterward and, you guessed it, still owe the IRS money as adults.
Anchor babies are those kids whose parents got over the goal line – the US border – just in time for them to pop out. They are US citizens from birth and give their parents a legal argument for them to stay in the land of bread and circuses… I mean… milk and honey!
Funnily enough, Brazil embraces what Americans call anchor babies and welcome entire families into the country after the child’s birth.
But not all countries are like this. For example, my son Micah was born in Hong Kong. But he’s not a Hong Kong or a Chinese citizen. To be either, you must be of Chinese ethnicity.
Citizenship by Naturalization
I may get a bit of stick for writing this, but here goes. If you’re young, completely elastic – that is, you don’t care – about the taxes you pay, and like an adventure, this is a perfectly acceptable way to go.
As a young, impressionable 24-year-old, I left the US to work in London. Besides the booze, I went because I thought the international experience would get me over the line for a top 25 business school in the US.
I fell in love with the place and wound up staying. Yes, I paid a truckload in tax, but I really didn’t care at the time.
Six years later, I was a UK citizen by naturalization. Sure, I wish I was more prudent with my bank account, but I have no real regrets going this way.
If you’re in your early twenties, seriously consider this option.
Citizenship by Blood
Latin: Jur sanguinis. If your surname begins with a vowel (O’Donnell, O’Shea) or ends with a vowel (Pacino, DeNiro), start exploring your family history. You may automatically qualify for citizenship by right of blood like I did for my Italian passport.
This may be the cheapest, easiest way to go. Especially if your closest European relative is only a generation or two away from you, you should explore this option.
Yes, I paid a law firm to help me. Yes, I had to fly all over creation to amass my documents.
But I can almost guarantee you that you’ll have an easier time than I did.
Rude reader Saundra asked me for the name of the Italian law firm I used. Since she asked, I figure she’s not the only one who may want to know.
It’s called Italian Citizenship Assistance. What was great about them is that they completely assess your application before they charge you. That is, they only charge you if they know your situation will lead to citizenship.
My college roommate tried to engage them for his case. Alas, he didn’t qualify. But they didn’t charge him anything for checking first.
My case officer’s name is Martina. She is fabulous. If you choose to work with them, tell them I sent you! (I’m not getting remunerated in any way for mentioning them.)
Citizenship by Investment
If you’re especially cashed up at the moment, this is another excellent way to go. But there is a difference between Golden Visas and Citizenship by investment.
Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Spain, Panama, and Portugal offer a Golden Visa, which is residency that leads to citizenship by naturalization.
But there is an upfront payment involved. This can be buying real estate in the country or buying the country’s bonds, or even making a cash payment.
In Portugal, this can range from EUR 350,000 to 500,000. That is, you’d have to buy real estate worth this much, and then you’d get your visa. Once you get your visa, you can apply for citizenship in another five years if you meet the naturalization requirements.
Citizenship by Investment
This is the “instant” citizenship the extremely rich can opt for. In Austria, this costs a mere EUR 10,000,000. Allegedly, Denise Rich, songwriter and former wife of Marc Rich, went this route.
But other countries are far cheaper.
Andrew Henderson, the Nomad Capitalist, opted for St Lucia citizenship when he renounced his US citizenship. If you’re a single applicant, this option currently costs a touch under $110,000. A family of four would spend $167,500.
Citizenship by Marriage
I know Austria costs €10 million, but the marriage option may be the most expensive!
Just kidding. I think.
Most of the time, if you’re married to a foreign national, your naturalization waiting time will be reduced.
I think this is a good option if you’re already married to that special someone. It’s pretty dodgy to marry someone just for their passport.
As Indiana Jones once said, “It’s not the years. It’s the mileage.”
Still, it’s an option.
I hope that laid out, in an extensive but not-too-deep way, what options you’ve got.
As always, I love reading your mail. So please write firstname.lastname@example.org whenever the mood strikes you.
All the best,