High profile British actors Colin Firth and Ralph Fiennes recently obtained second citizenships in Italy and Serbia respectively. This follows a number of cases of British citizens attaining second passports from various EU countries in wake of Brexit, as well as a growth in applications for citizenship of various other countries worldwide as part of investment programmes.
Second passports and dual citizenship aren’t new, especially among the wealthy. Citizenship by investment is often looked on favourably as a way to live and work in beautiful places, with the bonus of adding another passport to your travel options. But does the British exodus show genuine dissatisfaction with living in the UK, or is second citizenship a luxury fad that won’t last?
Living standards are declining in the UK and rising abroad
Reports of falling living standards and a slowing economy in the UK means discontent could be a major reason behind the trend. In the wake of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget, the Resolution Foundation think tank claimed the UK economy faces its longest fall in living standards since records began more than 60 years ago.
In contrast, living standards are on the rise in many countries offering second citizenship. Caribbean nations that offer citizenship by investment programmes, such as Grenada and St Kitts & Nevis, provide successful applicants with social and political security, not to mention the idyllic lifestyle that comes with Caribbean living. In addition, EU countries running these programmes also offer the freedom of movement that many Brits crave after Brexit.
The benefits of a second passport
Second citizenship does not come cheap. However, the additional benefits that come with obtaining a passport via citizenship by investment are attractive to many. For example, Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers a low tax regime, visa free travel to more than 115 countries and territories and the ability to pass one’s citizenship to future generations by descent. It is also a relatively fast process with no requirements for any interviews.
While Dominica’s citizenship by investment programme demands a minimum investment of $100,000, this pales in comparison to many other dual citizenship programmes. For example, Bulgaria’s programme requires an investment of at least five times this price, while obtaining citizenship in countries such as Austria and Cyprus could set you back millions.
Dual citizenship can be affordable however, especially if you have familial connections. If you aren’t able to make a sizable investment, you can look at dual citizenship options. Firth was able to utilise his wife’s Italian heritage to gain second passports for himself and his children.
Countries where dual citizenship is easily obtainable
Many countries openly allow dual citizenships for both their own citizens and foreign suitors. For example, New Zealand allows foreign residents to attain a Kiwi passport on a number of conditions, such as if they have been living there for 5 or more years, if you intend to keep living there, speak good English and are of good character. There are no requirements for any familial links, although this would also qualify you.
Belgium also allows you become a naturalised Belgian citizen, although it could take between 5 and 9 years of living there to be qualified. If you want to do the same in Portugal, you must have resided there for at least 6 years, amongst other requirements.
Nations where it is difficult or impossible to gain a second passport
Dual citizenship is not always easily attained. For many countries, as aforementioned, a significant investment is required. For example, Austria severely limits dual nationality but does offer an economic investment programme that grants joint Austrian citizenship for a hefty fee of between around €2-3 million. However, you must invest ‘in the formation of a new commercial enterprise that is geographically headquartered in Austria or a direct investment into an existing Austrian business that will prospectively create new jobs or increase product sales’. You must also relinquish your original passport.
In many other countries it is either strictly forbidden or extremely difficult to obtain a second passport. It is not allowed in countries such as Thailand, Azerbaijan and India. In the Netherlands, it is almost entirely forbidden, however there are exceptions for Dutch people who obtain another citizenship at birth, or who live in a country they hold nationality of thanks to their spouse
The numerous perks of acquiring a second passport are evident. If you have any family links to a foreign land or have resided there for a sufficient amount of time then the decision is made all the more easily. Similarly, if you can afford to invest then it represents a hugely beneficial venture as well as the citizenship.