This is How to Gain Access to a Second Citizenship

William asks:

Dear Ambassador Nagel,
How can I gain access to a second citizenship in another country?

Ambassador Nagel:

Great question. There are many ways to acquire a second citizenship. In my law practice we assist with second passports based on your family heritage, passports by investment and purchase, and by residency.

Get a Second Passport through Your Family Heritage

If your parents or grandparents were born abroad, you might be able to apply for citizenship through descent. The easiest countries to gain second citizenship and a second passport through family lineage are:

  1. Ireland,
  2. Italy,
  3. Israel,
  4. Poland, and
  5. Spain

The most “in demand” second citizenships through lineage are the UK, Italy and France.

You might be surprised to learn that the largest number of second citizenships we have processed are through family connections. While passports for sale get all the headlines, the first place to start the quest is with your family tree.

If you would like us to review your second citizenship by lineage options, please contact me at I will personally review your situation and determine if you qualify.

Discover Another Option: Citizenship through Residency

This is another relatively low-cost way to get a passport. With residency, you earn your citizenship by becoming a part of the community rather than paying money. Live in Nicaragua or Panama for 5 years and you can apply for citizenship.

In the case of Nicaragua, if you invest $35,000 in their teak reforestation program, you will qualify for residency. In Panama, the investment is $20,000 in teak, but the amount of teak is lower on a $1 per tree basis, so Nicaragua is a better value.

And now, on to second passports that get all of the attention:

Second Citizenship through investment

The first thing to know about obtaining a second passport through investment is how to value the citizenship. The worth of a passport is based on the number of visa-free countries you are able to access. The best passport for you is usually the one with the most visa-free options that’s within your budget.

For example, the most valuable passport for purchase or investment is Malta. This one gets you visa free access to the United States and Canada, as well as the right to live and work anywhere in the EU. In total, Malta gives you visa-free access to 167 countries and territories.

Because of this, the investment and purchase costs of a Maltese passport are high at about $1.3 million (in current Euro terms). Also, it’s become VERY difficult to acquire this passport as the government will accept only the highest caliber professionals.

Most applications, especially from certain countries like China are rejected. It takes a great deal of effort and connections to gain a second citizenship from Malta.

The best fast track EU (or EU adjacent) Second Citizenship is from Bulgaria

You will invest 1,000,000 BGN (about 511,000 Euros or $565,000)  to gain residency and then another 1,000,000 BGN to gain citizenship.

You invest 1 million BGN to gain residency, hold that for about a year, and then invest another 1 million BGN to gain citizenship and a second passport. Your citizenship application can be submitted no earlier than 12 months after your residency permit is granted.

Here’s Why Bulgaria is a Good Deal

Your 2 million BGN investment may be in 5-year Bulgarian bonds. No need to buy real estate or start a business, hire employees or make a commitment to living there.  The Bulgarian bond is at the low level of investment grade meaning it is very likely you’ll get your initial bond investment back, less the interest coupon which is part of the residency/citizenship cost. So it is basically an interest free loan of $1.1 million rather than the actual payment of $1.3 as in the case of Malta.

Bulgarian citizens have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 154 countries and territories, ranking it 20th in terms of travel freedom (tied with an Argentine passport).

There are a number of differences between Bulgaria and Malta. If you would like us to compare and determine which is best for you, please contact me at

The Next Tier of Passports by Investment are from the Caribbean

You can obtain a passport from St. Kitts for $250,000 by making a donation to the country’s sugar fund (for displaced workers) or investing $400,000 in local real estate. A similar program exists in Dominica for $120,000. These are nearly identical in value and the price bump in St. Kitts comes from the fact that it’s been around longer.

These Caribbean passports typically include visa-free access to the EU and the Schengen Region. They don’t get you into the United States without a visa, but they do give you access to the European Union. Some Caribbean passports include Canada and some do not.

If you prefer an investment rather than a purchase, consider St. Lucia. This passport gives you access to 125 countries and territories, ranking it 37th in the world. You can buy the passport or invest $500,000 to $550,000 (depending on family size) in government bonds plus $50,000 in fees.

The St. Lucia program was modelled after that of Bulgaria and is less than half the price. If you don’t want to live in the EU, and just desire visa-free access, St. Lucia is a great investment.

I hope you’ve found this article on second citizenships and second passports to be helpful. For more information, please contact me at or call (412) 749-0500. I will be happy to assist you to negotiate citizenship or residency in any of the countries listed above.

About Joel Nagel

Joel Nagel is a U.S. licensed attorney who specializes in international business tax planning and offshore asset protection. Mr. Nagel has been practicing for over 20 years and is considered one of the top experts in planning, structuring, and operating an offshore business in a tax efficient manner. He is also the former Ambassador for Belize to Austria.

Joel Nagel sits on the boards of a wide variety of global companies including banks, real estate developers and online publishers. He brings a unique skill set and real world experience to each engagement.

Joel is a hands-on, in the trenches lawyer working on behalf of his clients. No matter the size or scope of your offshore business, he’s “been there and done that.”

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