Passport to a better future
5 compelling reasons why successful investors need a strong second passport
In today’s globalized world successful and internationally mobile business people and investors are increasingly recognizing the benefits of an alternative citizenship. The good news is that several countries already have established programs offering wealthy individuals and their families the opportunity to obtain a second passport in return for investing in the new host country. So, why are people looking at obtaining a second citizenship?
In essence, a passport is not merely a travel document that allows you to travel more freely, it also expands the range of freedoms you can enjoy, and citizenship in a secure and stable location protects your personal and financial interests and, most importantly, secures your legacy for your family.
We work closely with our clients, and recently we have seen a spike in demand from Ultra- and High-net-worth individuals from the Middle East and Asia seeking European citizenship. In particular, Citizenship-by-investment programs such as the Malta Individual Investor Program (MIIP) or the Cyprus Citizenship-by-Investment Program are proving highly attractive. So, why are our successful clients looking at such programs? To answer that question let’s take a look at the top five benefits such programs deliver.
- Visa free travel and the right to settle
In our experience, the most important benefit is that a second passport delivers is significantly improved freedom of movement. We talk with many clients from the Middle East and Asia whose freedom to travel is often restricted. To put that in to context, a Lebanese passport holder can only travel to 39 countries without a visa. A Pakistani national can only travel to 33 countries without a visa, in Bangladesh it is 41 countries, Nigerian 46 countries, Egypt 49, Jordan and Algeria 50, Vietnam 51, Morocco 61, Tunisia 66, Saudi Arabia 68, China 74, Bahrain 81, Qatar 87, Turkey 110, Russia 118. The list goes on.
However, obtaining a Maltese passport, for example, would allow the holder to travel to 182 countries without a visa, including prime destinations like Europe, the UK, US, Australia and Canada. Not only does the new Maltese citizen enjoy extended freedom of travel, they also have settlement rights in all European Union member states.
- Access to important global markets, meetings and conferences
I recently asked one of my clients why he chose to apply for a second citizenship, and he shared the following story with me, which sums up the experience of many. He is a Lebanese national and the owner of a major technology company. He recalled a meeting that was planned with representatives of a German company to discuss a major deal. Timings were tight and he needed to fly to Germany within three days to conclude the deal. But he then realized that his Schengen visa had expired, and he needed to apply for a new one to enter Germany. Despite his best efforts to move things along it took a week for the visa to be issued. Meanwhile, the German company decided to close the same deal with a competitor who was able to immediately visit Germany. The cumbersome visa process had cost him not only his precious time but also a multi-million-dollar opportunity. And we hear stories like that every week.
Today, a strong passport is an indispensable business tool, especially as many business meetings and important conferences take place in key cities like London, Paris, New York, Miami, Singapore, and Dubai. Forward-looking entrepreneurs and business people simply can’t afford to be held back by visa restrictions that can often mean the difference between success and failure in business.
- The best “insurance” money can buy
In times of political and economic insecurity, a second citizenship allows its holder to relocate and settle permanently in a neutral and safe location that protects the individual and family as well as the holder`s business and property assets. Basically, you are buying peace of mind.
Jim Rogers, a renowned investor and co-founder of the legendary Quantum Fund, put it succinctly in an interview with IMI Daily ,when he said, “In the next 10 […] years, only having one passport could be very dangerous, because the world’s going to have many problems, whether it’s financial, political or military, there are going to be many problems. Being trapped with one passport, one could suffer very badly. You diversify your assets, and you may even diversify your homes. You should certainly have a plan B. And a plan B to me, and should be for everybody else, is to have a second place to live and preferably a second passport.”
In fact, we have heard first hand from many people who say that acquiring a second citizenship is the best investment they ever made.
- World-class education for your children
For many of our clients the opportunity to give their children the best possible education is another major driver for acquiring a second citizenship. Holding a second citizenship from an EU Member State, for instance, gives access to some of the best educational systems in the world. For instance, Maltese or Cypriot citizenship allows a family to take advantage of world class educational systems in Europe, including countries like Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria.
- Lay the foundations for a safe and secure future for generations to come
Once granted, a European citizenship is valid for life and can be passed on to future generations, allowing you, your children and their children to reap the rewards of increased mobility, quality education and a secure way of life. And there is often no need to give up your original nationality while you enjoy the benefits of a second passport. This makes your citizenship-by-investment application probably the most important investment in your life.
What are you waiting for?
If you wish to become internationally flexible and enjoy the benefits that entails while reducing risk then a second passport is a must for you. In a similar way that many wealth managers and financial advisers recommend their clients to diversify their investment portfolios, we highly recommend that everybody diversify their residence and citizenship portfolio too. Can you afford not to?
Slim Habli, IMCM,
Founder & Chairman
Bellevue Zurich Advisory Ltd.