If you’re thinking about buying a second passport, here’s how to value that acquisition. Here’s how to select the best second passport for you and your family… how to price the citizenship and passport you’ll receive in exchange for your money or investment.
Note that this article describes how to value a second passport purchased on the open market. It’s intended for those who want guaranteed citizenship in in 3 to 12 months. It’s not for those who can wait the typical 5 years as a resident (such as in Panama) or who qualify for a passport through ancestry.
The first step in valuing a second passport is to decide why you need it. Do you want an exit plan? To diversify your investments and maximize your global asset protection strategy? Do you already have a great travel document and want a backup passport?
If you’re a citizen of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, etc. then you’re probably looking to diversify your citizenship and hedge global risk. You already have a solid travel document and want a backup should something go wrong.
At least for us American’s, many things can go wrong. For example, the IRS has begun to confiscate and refuse to renew passports of those who owe more than $50,000 to the IRS. For more on this, see: Expats, the IRS is Coming for your Passports
If you’re looking for safety net, then you might go with a low cost option. For example, the Dominican Republic just launched a citizenship program focused on U.S. and U.K. nationals.
If you’re well beyond a safety net, and ready to expatriate, then you need the best second passport you can afford. If you want to give up your U.S. citizenship, and get the IRS out of your life, you must have a passport in hand before you turn in your U.S. document.
- If you’re a U.S. citizen looking to expatriate, you might read: What Happens to Your IRA when you give up US Citizenship / Expatriate?
Next, if you’re from China, India, Pakistan, Iran, an African nation, or any country with a lesser passport, then you’re hoping to upgrade your travel rights. You’re focused on the visa free countries you can access with your second passport and should buy the best one you can afford.
If you don’t have a top tier passport already, you’re looking to move up the ladder. You will value a second passport by the number of countries it allows you to enter without a visa.
I should point out that it’s much more difficult to upgrade your passport than to buy a lesser one. If you’re from the U.S. or E.U., you’ll be allowed to buy into any country you like. If you have the cash and no criminal record, you’re golden.
If you’re from India or China, the burden of proving your good standing in the community and value to your new country is on you. Also, the fees charged by your agent and the government will be higher.
For example, a U.S. citizen can buy a passport in Dominica for about $140,000 while a person from India will likely pay $165,000. If an Indian citizen has a residency visa for the U.S. or E.U., the process becomes a bit easier, but still more costly.
The reason for the increase is that it’s difficult to prove you have no criminal history from China or India… and proving this from Pakistan or Iran is twice as hard again. A U.S. citizen can provide an FBI report, which is universally accepted. No such report (at least, not one with the same reputation) is available from these countries.
Let’s look at the travel value of a second passport based on visa free countries…
When access is your primary criteria, you’ll want to buy the best passport you can afford. Here are my top picks and their respective price points.
If money’s no object, you can get a passport from Malta with an investment of $1.2 million or buy one from Austria for €2 to €4 million. These will get you visa free into the European Union, Canada and the United States. Malta and Austria are about the only passports for sale that give you visa free access to the U.S.
If you’re not a Saudi prince or Russian oligarch, then you might lower your sites to the Caribbean. Most of these passports give you visa free access to the European Union and make it easier access the United States.
In my opinion, the best value in the Caribbean is a second passport from Dominica. For “only“ $140,000 all-in for a single applicant, you get visa free access to the E.U. and 119 countries in total.
For me, Dominica compares favorably to St. Kitts at 132 countries and a purchase price of $250,000 + $70,000 in fees. I don’t see much value in the 13 additional countries for St. Kitts, especially since they lost Canada a couple years back.
If you want a second passport by investment, rather than purchase, I recommend St. Lucia. You can invest $500,000 or $550,000 for 5 years in government bonds and receive your passport. Your investment is guaranteed by the government and the islands economy is relatively strong. Legal and other fees in St. Lucia are typically $50,000 for a single applicant. This gets you a top passport with visa free access to 125 countries.
Your principal will be returned at the end of the term. Depending on how you value the opportunity cost of tying up $500,000+ for 5 years, St. Lucia might pencil out as a better deal for you than Dominica.
If you don’t go the investment route on St. Lucia, they’ll be happy to sell you a passport for $250,000 to $310,000 all-in depending on your family size and country of origin.
Note that several islands, such as St. Kitts, offer real estate investment options. Unless you plan to live on the island, I never recommend these “opportunities.” In my opinion, the beauty and culture of St. Kitts has been severely damaged by developers selling units around the world. Today, these investments sit empty, no renters or Airbnb app users in sight, with holding costs eating away at their value.
Those are my recommendations for buyers focused on visa free travel. Now here’s what I suggest for those who already have a top tier passport.
If you’re not planning to expatriate any time soon, then go for a low cost backup passport. Buy a passport as a hedge against country risk. Buy a passport to maximize privacy, travel rights, and asset protection. Become a dual national on the cheap incase you need it one day.
The lowest cost second passport is from the Dominican Republic. A single applicant can buy one for about $35,000 and will receive your passport in about 9 months. The government is also planning to roll out investment options in the coming months, which should be at much lower price points than their competitors.
A passport from the DR gives you visa free travel to only 54 countries. But, it will get you out of the U.S. should something go wrong, and into places like Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.
And a second passport from the Dominican Republic might just be a good “investment.” I hear that the government is in talks with the Schengen Region of the European Union. If the DR get’s visa free access to these countries, the value of the passport will jump to $150,000 overnight.
The bottom line on how to value a second passport is this: Identify your need, then decide how much to invest in the hedge or how much you can afford to upgrade your travel options.
I hope you’ve found this article on how to value a second passport helpful. For more information on any of the programs listed above, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (619) 550-2743 for a free and confidential consultation.