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Foreign Residency VS Second Passport

Foreign Residency VS Second Passport

Foreign residencies and second passports are different tools for different needs. In this article, I will explain their differences and help you select the best option based on your situation.

Firstly, let’s talk about second passports. You can get one through a second passport program. This is where a country allows you to buy their passport. The process is simple: you give them cash and in exchange, they give you citizenship and a passport. There are no physical presence requirements or other hoops to jump through. If you have a clean history (no criminal record or other issues), you can buy a second passport from any number of countries and receive your travel documents in about 90 days.

On the other hand, a foreign residency is a visa to live (and sometimes work) in a particular country. It might lead to a passport after five years or so, but citizenship is not usually guaranteed. Residency and living in a country only give you the right to apply for citizenship.

You might be surprised to know that the United States is one of the few countries that offers a guaranteed pathway to citizenship. Under the EB-5 investor visa program, wealthy foreigners can invest $500,000 or $1 million in approved projects and be guaranteed a US passport in 5 years.

That said, about 90% of the people who contact us about buying a second passport decide to go with foreign residency and work towards citizenship over time. If the goal is a second passport, why start with foreign residency? That’s easy: MONEY. 


Low-Cost Second Passport Programs

Most passports for purchase programs start at around $120,000 for a single applicant. Mid-range offerings, like St. Kitts (which I don’t recommend), will cost you $250,000 plus all kinds of fees. The best second passport program, Malta, requires an investment of $1.2 million and legal fees will push this to about $1.3 million.


1. Dominica Second Passport

The best low-cost program would be Dominica’s second passport program. It’s simple cash for citizenship and their passport gets you into 119 countries visa-free, including the EU. 


2. St. Lucia Second Passport

On the other hand, if you would prefer to make an investment rather than pay cash, consider St. Lucia. St. Lucia’s passport is slightly better than Dominica’s; it gets you into 127 countries visa-free

Normally, you would be required to invest $500,000 to $550,000 in government bonds for 5 years, which is already a great deal. 

However, because of the pandemic, St. Lucia has cut the required investment by half. Now, the requirement is an investment of $250,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a family of four. This offer will expire by the end of the year. If you need assistance or more information, feel free to contact our office


Earn Your Second Passport Through A Foreign Residency

If you don’t have that kind of cash, don’t give up! You can earn your second passport by living in a country for a few years, becoming a part of the community, then applying through their foreign residency program.


1. Panama Foreign Residency

For example, you can first invest $20,000 in Panama. Then, apply for a foreign residency through their “friendly nations reforestation visa program”, which will make you eligible for citizenship after 5 years.

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Also, Panama doesn’t have a physical presence requirement to maintain your foreign residency. Therefore, you can spend as much or as little time in the country as you like. However, you will need to live in Panama for a certain amount of time to qualify for citizenship.


2. Nicaragua Foreign Residency

Another option along these same lines is Nicaragua. Invest $35,000 in their version of the reforestation program and get residency. Also like Panama, you can apply for a second passport after 5 years.

There are several reasons Nicaragua is a better deal than the lower cost Panama visa:

  1. You get a ¼ acre in Panama for $20,000 and just under 2.5 acres ( ½ hectare) for $35,000 in Nicaragua.
  2. Nicaragua has a more defined path to citizenship. I wouldn’t say it’s guaranteed, but it’s much more likely than Panama.
  3. Many of our clients prefer to live in Nicaragua over Panama… but that’s a personal preference and a lifestyle choice.
  4. The Panama program is only open to those from “friendly” nations while Nicaragua is open to anyone. All you need is money and a clean history.

If you’re looking to put a foreign residency in your back pocket as an exit plan, but don’t want to live in the country, go with Panama because Nicaragua has a physical presence requirement. You must spend at least 180 days in the country to maintain your visa.



The bottom line is that there are two ways to get a second passport. You can either buy one from Dominica, St. Lucia, Malta, and others, or you can earn one through a foreign residency program. You can choose to pay with cash or with time.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this article: Foreign Residency VS Second Passport. If you have any questions, please contact our office HERE.

I’ve included some great articles for you to read, enjoy!

Easy Residency In Panama – Here’s How

Americans Living And Retiring In Cuba

Portugal’s Golden Visa Residency And Second Passport Program

Basics Of The Nicaragua Reforestation Residency Visa

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