Last Update: September 2011- information was deemed accurate when written but the you the reader is always
advised to do your own homework. Life situations change very quickly. If
you have specific questions- Write EW. Hard as we try at EW to keep you up to date with current and correct information, things can change very rapidly in the Post 911 world we live in.
THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
ABOUT 2ND PASSPORTS/NATIONALITIES
By A. Nony Mouse, Esq
One of the basic PT tenants is to get a second citizenship. There are number of ways of getting one. Some countries publish either the cost of economic citizenship (e.g. Grenada) or the criteria for non-economic citizenship (Canada or Australia) or the criteria for birthright citizenship (Italy or Ireland). I call these “front door” programs because they are “while gloved” and pristine. But all countries have another category for citizenship acquisition loosely referred to as “discretionary.”
While the U.S. may require that an Asian citizenship applicant entering the U.S. under the investor category should be willing to “invest” a million dollars as the basis of his new citizenship, the U.S. ambassador to Albania has the right to grant long term residency or a green card to a high level political defector instantaneously. The U.S. is given as a case in point since, as the self-appointed world arbiter of citizenship - granting criteria, it, too, is perfectly willing to grant instant discretionary conditional green cards to Olympic athletes or high-level defectors or whomever it deems worthy of the privilege.
A sidebar note: In the Six Flags Theory of avoiding most contact with government, the first flag is “citizenship” – meaning one other than the one you were born with – or have lived most of your life with. In reality, something called “permanent residency” – a green card, if you will, works as good or better than citizenship. The downside is that distant travel requires a passport – and you’ve perhaps only got the one you were born with. However, in South America, a “cedula” (permanent residency card) is good enough to travel most of South America without a passport. In Europe, a residency I.D. is good enough to live and work in all 27 countries – without a passport. There are reasons for a second citizenship, but 90% of your PT goals can be reached without one. But back to our story. A new citizenship, if done right, holds the promise of a “new start” and sometimes that’s important.
At any given moment in history, there are numerous countries that, through their appointed representatives, offer instantaneous citizenships – all quite legally. The question then becomes how one gets the attention of the politicians, ministers, or appointed officials who can create citizenship or permanent residency by fiat. Since these countries do not, as a rule, figure prominently in the Olympic Games nor are they usually thought of as a countries of refuge (and openly discourage refugees fleeing to their countries), the easiest way to get the attention of a person who can grant citizenship, as reprehensible as it may be, is with cash. Additionally, since they like the cash and don’t need heat from the U.S., they try to keep the programs quiet enough that people aren’t breaking down the door to get in. A lot of people doing anything is news. News is heat. Heat is bad.
Examples must be made if there is bad press. Policies must be changed. Doors must, regrettably senor, close. So instead of press releases, word passes by quiet conversation with people who might have need of the information. Doors open, doors close. Carpe diem.
As one might suspect this situation creates a short list of less than white glove programs. This is good. But it also creates the possibility of fraud and deception by operators who ply this trade.
Let’s face it, if you’re not dealing with the likes the immigration office of a first world country and a program that is promulgated by the country itself, you really don’t know if you’ll get a real passport, if it’s really in the computers, if you’re really a citizen of your new country, whether you’ve solved your passport portfolio problem or flushed your money down the loo. And if you’re swindled, hey, who you gonna call?
The aforesaid notwithstanding, I strongly believe in discretionary programs. Let’s look at some of the reasons:
One: to a program, compared to white glove programs, they are quite a bit less expensive -- typically ranging from a $5000 starter kit good only for ID and not travel; to $100,000 for a top draw (but second class) country and averaging $20,000 - $50,000 for decent countries with decent visa free travel. You can have Dominica for $100,000, mas o menos, or St. Kitts/Nevis for $250,000 -- of course it comes with a condo. You can have the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, or Australia for free if you can jump through all the hoops and don’t need it anytime soon and are willing to pay 50% of everything you earn for the privilege.
Two, the white glove programs are not suitable to someone who has had legal entanglements that make him or her less than welcome in a white glove country, yet, ironically, the seeker is often most enthusiastic about relocation. A tainted past can be anything from bad credit, to a felony conviction for a something that is not a crime in most civilized countries, to unacceptable political views, or to someone who has ever been the target of an FBI or Interpol investigation.
Front door programs require fingerprinting. If you’ve got problems, none of the “free” countries will take you, and neither will St. Kitts or the others -- even for a lot of money. All front door economic programs use licensed agents to vet the applicants. The program facilitator will often say “no one ever recommended by the company has been turned down.” This is true. But it doesn’t mean they’re slipping someone an extra $500 to get you in. It means, instead, that they review the application and when they find you come from a blacklisted country or can’t submit a police clearance or you put on the application that you were arrested in 1965 for smoking a joint or your credit report doesn’t equal six figures or shows a bankruptcy, they flush you out before they submit you. Therefore, “no one is ever turned down” because you never get to the place to be turned down!
Three, the white glove programs are not suitable for someone who wants a “fresh start” for any reason, including fleeing an abusive spouse. Why? Because all white glove programs require a very straight forward posting of one’s past, it simultaneously becomes a finger pointing right smack into your fresh-start future.
Four, just as alternative programs have the chance of being fraudulent, so white glove programs have the potential for going sour when a new government takes over and wishes to rid itself of all those ‘wealth robbing foreigners’ who entered under the previously constitutional programs enacted by an elitist parliament who is no longer in power. Fortunately, the political undesirables who received economic citizenship are all on one list, duly entered into the official rolls and easy to round up and deport and confiscate their property.
Five, citizenship from any country available by birthright is a gift from the gods and should be treated as a very special inheritance. And it’s even better if it comes from a first-world country. But I wonder how many illegal immigrants into the U.S. (or registered aliens for that matter) from Guatemala know that, after they’ve saved a few bucks here, stand a good chance of emigrating to Spain and becoming a citizen of the E.U. in two years! All too many of us have come from Irish, English, German, Dutch or Italian ancestries that could have provided citizenship to us if our parents or grandparents had done something about it “back then.” You may be the last generation that is able to apply for birthright citizenship and you must do it before your children are born if they are to be covered. Don’t hesitate to claim any other citizenship you are entitled to. I don’t care if it’s a godless Stalinist country. You never know what the future will bring. Some people could have claimed East German citizenship when it wasn’t worth two cents. Or how about Hungarian, Czech, or Polish ethnicity? They just entered NATO. Can full EU recognition be far behind? But for the rest of us poor devils, blood may not have blessed us with a Belizean/Canadian mother and a Cypriot father and an Italian grandfather! Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Six, persons who live in countries from which they wish to emigrate, say old Soviet Bloc countries or Asian countries in flux, may not be willing to queue up for years awaiting first world permission to immigrate or may not be able afford the high cost of first world economic citizenship. By acquiring discretionary citizenship in a civilized South American country, the immigrant increases a family’s chances ten fold for approval into its first world target country, say the U.S. or a country of the E.U. and has in the meanwhile escaped poor conditions and can safely live and work and amass capital to continue its journey, or perhaps find that they have found paradise in a country it never knew much about until it “bought” its way in.
Seven, for you PT advocates, oftentimes alternate citizenship seekers are not looking for a country for immigration purposes since they are operating under the “Five Flags or Six Flags” theory -- one of tenets being never to live in the same country as your passport (thereby nominally living outside the system of the country of residency).
A PT is urged to view a residency country as an innkeeper. If the services are commensurate with the tariff, you keep your room at the inn. If the rate goes up or services fall or the climate sours, you move on. In this scenario, your new citizenship is not for the purpose of finding employment or a home, but for the convenience it offers to visit and linger within “innkeeper” countries. In this solution matrix, an alternate citizenship can provide the means to visit and stay in countries without acquiring visas (thereby not checking into the system). By carefully looking at the list of visa free countries approved by a potential “innkeeper” country, one might find alternative citizenships that are more useful or more affordable than “front door” programs.
Eight, there are persons who are using some of W. G. Hill’s good advice, who simply wish to acquire a “banking passport” under a name other than one’s given name, in order to hold assets anonymously without the bother and cost of international business corporations (IBCs) and registered agents and nominee directors and annual renewal fees or trusts with yearly trustee fees and the attendant risk of some one else having a hand on your funds. Crudely put, it might be better to spend $25,000 once and have no risk whatsoever, then $3000 per year for 20 years with some risk of misappropriation or discovery using a Panama Foundation. There is also an even nastier reason.
If one is trying to use such a contrivance such as a trust or foundation to escape the jurisdiction a high-tax country, the IBC/trust route to anonymity is, in 99.9% of cases, just as potentially unlawful as the anonymous banking passport and a lot more likely to be discovered. How dare I say that? Because if you can afford international tax advice, which includes citizenship portfolios, from competent lawyers and accountancy firms and your track record is clean enough and your bank account is fat enough, you are definitely not reading this article! And tax-avoidance-international-planning is a dicey bit of business for the do-it-yourselfer. If you don’t have assets in the millions and you’re not paying $50,000 for the advice, chances are the advice you’re getting is just mucking up already muddy waters. And, Lord forgive me for saying this, but firms who offer advice for a large fee to help you avoid tax or hide assets, will usually set up programs which require their watchful eye and a yearly retainer. I’m equally sure that none of them receive commissions from the companies abroad who actually set up the accounts and manage them on behalf of the client.
Less it be said that I unreasonably besmirch carriage trade practice (since I too have plied that trade) may I remind the reader that any of us who offer this type of tax or asset protection advice are either officers of some court or have otherwise sworn oaths to uphold national and state laws and we fear a disgruntled, revenge minded client as much as or more than the long arm of the law. Put practically, no one can afford to offer anything less than upper crust white bread advice with the threat of lawsuits from errors and omissions and criminal prosecution for “structuring” held over our heads. Can you imagine how vulnerable a lawyer would be if she were to have the gall to tell you to forget the whole international planning route and instead buy a Mozambique passport for $5000 in any other name except yours, get a mail drop address with 24 hour access based on your new passport and a $200 international driver’s license to match, open a bank account in your own country as a foreigner “here temporarily on vacation from your missionary practice” in a town no less than a thirty minute drive from where you really live (since deposits held by foreigners are not reported to the government), regularly deposit by mail or at another branch in a town not your own, cash under $5000 or small money orders available for a buck at the local grocers or traveler’s cheques -- and forget international tax planning since you can move about a million dollars per year this way, and of course, you can visit your funds with an ATM/Visa debit card that you will most likely leave the bank with the day you open it your account! And if you wanted to be extra safe, you could buy a $25,000 second passport and in a new name with supporting ID including driver’s license and birth certificate, in a territorially based tax country (no tax unless the income is made in the country) and then move the funds to a new bank near, but not in, your new homeland, and then visit your funds with a Visa debit card? Can you imagine any lawyer saying this? Well, W. G. Hill, reportedly a retired attorney has said much the same. While all of this may be very sound and practical advice, an attorney, is precluded from offering this advice to you if you were to walk through the front door of his office. And not only is he precluded, he is not stupid enough to do it! Why? Because if you don’t do everything exactly right or you tell you wife or soon-to-be-ex-wife or brag to the girls at the club about the great advice you got from your “smart” lawyer, and someone takes offense, or tries it themselves and forgets some of the steps and blows it, they’re going to call some crew cut government official whose going to lean on you and you’re going to name your lawyer in about 10 seconds as the guy who gave you this allegedly felonious advice and next thing the lawyer knows, he’s in prison or spending every cent he has to stay out. All that for $300 worth of honest advice? No, dear reader, it’s much better to charge you $50,000 up front and $10,000 a year and make sure that you have properly avoided tax under Subpart F of One of the basic PT tenants is to get a second citizenship. We can both sleep better at night.
In conclusion, there are a host of alternative citizenships available that may be more affordable and more useful than “front door” programs and for persons whose credentials are not impeccable or whose pockets are not full, these programs can mean the difference between slavery and freedom.
[Note from the Editor 2011: There are a lot of fly-by-night operators. In the best of possible worlds, you’d visit target countries and see what you can do for yourself. Often it’s nothing, but you can decide if this is a good second home or not. However, while most PT’s should have a second home targeted and the right papers in place, it is not often the same country that you want your second citizenship from. What you WANT from the second citizenship is the visa-free right to enter your target country where you can qualify for residency pretty easily. However, if you’re desperate and cannot go around the world checking stuff out, then look for long-lasting “sources” on the internet – ones that have been in business twenty years or more. THEN after you find some names, run google checks on them to see if you can find negative comments. If a site has been there a long time and has few negative posts, then it may mean something. If someone is new, it may mean all is well or that he had to create a new domain, new company and new alias to stay in the business of stealing your predecessor’s money.
Remember: A new citizenship is not necessary for a “new life”. What you need is “residency”. Residency can lead to citizenship after a time or maybe not but at least you’re “gone.” How long do you think you could live in Tangier, for instance, without papers if you had some money? The answer is a long, long, long time. Perhaps, if you have the right physical look, Europe itself may be open to you without a lot of papers. You will always be vulnerable, so the best advice if you don’t have “papers” is to keep moving every few months and never try to “check in” to the system. This is probably true in a very long list of countries. But, again, personal reconnaissance is recommended.
Last, the absolutely MOST valuable tool you can have in order to “move on” is to have a portable trade or occupation. A good plumber will make friends anywhere he lands. So will a good a/c repairman or a good electrician. A good auto mechanic. If you’re a talented internet trader, then the world is your oyster. If you can finagle a computer to do what you want or configure software or are internet-use savvy, there are always folks who need help. But there are host of things you can do and take with you that require little, if any licensing, and which can place money in your pocket everyday. Especially if you’ve set up accounts etc. that keep you out of the system. For instance, many countries have a “territorially based tax system” -- they only charge tax on what you earn in their country – on the books. So if you live there and trade stocks using the internet or sell articles or something, then the money isn’t taxed in their country. The trick is that if you stay in some countries too long then they want to tax “world income” and then you might as well have stayed home. Do your homework.
Last, last, last. Here is a no brainer but overlooked by 90% of folks. The advice: Get out at the first hint of trouble. This is old W. Hill advice. Let’s give the worst example right now. The U.S. Say that you know you may get indicted for something or you know the IRS is on your back. While your “record” is still good (clean), get a long-term stay visa to Mexico. Get one for Canada or just move there. Or apply for Canadian “landed immigrant” status. Now. Before the stuff hits the fan. Mexico can be cheap. And it’s easy – BEFORE YOUR RECORD GETS SCREWED UP. And Canada will not let you in if you have a criminal record. They will literally throw you out.
Asia – consider yourself “lost” as soon as you get there – all visa programs are tightening up but get there and figure it out from there. Getting into Cambodia without a visa can cost $2. India offers a 10-year multiple entry visa for $100. I say you’ll be ok for at least 10 years, huh?
Europe – you want to get out of the UK because it has gone George Orwell’s 1984? So move! France? Not a great choice. They’re two months behind the UK. But Romania? Slovenia? One, you have a legal right to be there if you’re an EU citizen. Two, they have absolutely no way of dealing with you. But how about Austria? Switzerland? Switzerland is NOT the EU but has liberal residency rights for EU citizens.
North Africa? No one’s chasing you there.
Jewish? Conveniently Jewish? Jewish wannabe? Head to Israel. Now. It doesn’t matter whether you want to live there forever. If you’re heading for trouble, Israel is not going to help anyone. You’re sort of imprisoned in the country, but it’s a much bigger cell. At least you can have sex with the opposite gender if that’s your preference. And you can work you way toward broader horizons while you’re free.
And remember this: once you leave the “usual suspect” bb-countries, and you travel around, you will see that “all is possible” almost anywhere other than where you came from.
Need Help? Please go to our contact page to read more about how best to contact us and what you need to know before you do.