Most countries have provisions that allow the Government to grant citizenship in return for major contributions to society, culture, the economy, and other interests of the State. This is not something that most countries allow as a matter of course, however; the list of places where it is relatively easy to gain citizenship by economic investment alone is small but for some people it is a good plan to obtain an extra passport in case the need arises to change country of residence quickly, or for other business purposes.

Who might need citizenship by investment?

Anyone considering citizenship by investment does not normally have to prove their need, but good reasons to consider it would include: political issues in a person’s country of residence that are causing problems with getting travel visas; punitive currency controls or excessive taxation; there is a risk of assets being removed or impounded; hostile groups within the country of residence are causing concern and finally that freedom to invest or work is restricted where the person concerned is currently resident. Sometimes it is not necessarily imperative to move immediately, but if there are concerns that things may change or worsen, many people with the available funds choose to take out citizenship by investment, just in case.

Where in the world offers this type of citizenship?

The number of countries which offer the ability to legally obtain a second passport – often in as little as a few months – is small and there are a number of basic conditions which must be met, but these are not generally too onerous. One which applies to all the countries on the list is that the applicant does not have a substantial criminal record, particularly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) anything to do with financial mismanagement or wrongdoing. The list does change from time to time – for example, Malta has begun to offer this facility relatively recently and is currently the only country in Europe to do so – but currently the countries apart from Malta are all in the eastern Caribbean, specifically the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis; the Commonwealth of Dominica; Antigua and Barbuda and finally, Grenada. Dominica and the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis have offered this opportunity for many years; the others have joined the list only in the last year. The alternative name for citizenship by investment is economic citizenship – people applying for these second passports must be in a certain economic bracket to be likely to succeed.

Tax havens are different

Economic citizenship involves taking out a second passport and the countries offering this should not be confused with countries with low or no taxation. Establishing residence is the key in these countries – it is not usually the whole year, but times vary – and then the person can take advantage of their tax laws. They include Latvia, Andorra and of course – the one everyone has heard of – Switzerland. For people whose business is largely in Asia, Singapore is a good choice.