Here are the 10 best second passports for 2017. The citizenship by investment industry has undergone a lot of changes in the last year, including a major change to the St. Kitts passport offering. It’s has been kept quiet by those hyping this passport, but I’ll give you the full story here.
Here’s everything you need to know to buy the best second passport in 2017.
Best Second Passports for Sale
Here’s my list of the 10 best second passports for sale. I’ve compared the price to the number of visa-free countries, as well as access to the EU and United States. For this reason, my top 3 passports are all from the EU.
Russia, in 4th position, is a unique opportunity. Citizenship requires you to set up or invest in to an active business in the country. Because of the weakness of the ruble vs the dollar, Russia is currently a value proposition.
I rate Bulgaria #1 as the best second passport available because it’s one of the two programs where the investor is likely to see her investment again. This offering allows you to invest €512,000 in government bonds in exchange for residency. Then, after a year, invest another €512,000 to gain citizenship. There are also business investment options. That’s about $1.2 million.
The Bulgaria program ties up your cash for 5 years interest free. That’s right, the government bonds do not pay interest. It will take two years to get your passport and requires you to visit Bulgaria twice. Residence is granted with acceptance and processing of your clean background check.
Most of the programs listed in this best second passport post charge you a fee for the passport. Bulgaria and Cyprus (below) are the only ones where you can expect your principal returned.
- St. Kitts and other offer real estate investment options, but those come at significant additional cost and your prospects for selling for the purchase price are limited.
A passport from Bulgaria is rated 18th in the world and gives the holder visa-free travel to 153 countries, including Switzerland the United Kingdom. It doesn’t get you visa free in to the US… only Malta and Austria do that. It also allows you to live and work anywhere in the EU.
A passport from Bulgaria may allow you to work in the UK. There has been some political maneuvering on this point and the results are not yet known.
As a partial member of the Schengen region, Bulgaria gets you access to all of Western Europe. Things are changing quickly in this regard as Bulgaria works to become a full member. For more information, see: The Cost for a Second Passport from Bulgaria will Double Next Year
St. Lucia – Best value in 2016
The St. Lucia second passport program is new for 2016 and modeled after the Bulgaria citizenship program. With St. Lucia, you have the option of buying the passport for $200,000 to $250,000 or investing $500,000 to $550,000 in government bonds for five years.
Because this is a new program, very few second passports have been granted. In my opinion, this makes citizenship from St. Lucia a more private and “below the radar” purchase or investment. I prefer these smaller programs to the big names like St. Kitts which has received a lot of attention in the last few years.
St. Lucia provides visa free travel to 121 countries as well as visa free travel to Switzerland or 180-days in the Schengen area of the European Union. At half the cost of Bulgaria, St. Lucia is the best value in 2016.
You could say that the St. Lucia second passport program allows you to double your money in 5 years. Rather than paying $250,000, you invest $550,000, get a passport immediately, and your capital is returned in 5 years.
When you compare St. Lucia to its Caribbean neighbors, it costs a fraction because you get your investment capital back. Total cost would be fees plus interest lost / opportunity cost of the capital invested into government bonds.
Like Bulgaria, Maltese citizenship gives you the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union. It also allows you to travel visa-free to the United States. Malta and the US have a Visa Waiver program, which operates a bit differently from other systems.
A Malta passport also gives you access to Switzerland and visa-free travel to 166 countries. A passport from Malta is the 8th most valuable travel document.
The cost of a Maltese passport is $1.57 million dollars plus fees. Expect it to cost around $1.85 million “all in.”
This program is capped at 1,800 passports and there’s a requirement to “reside” in Malta. The number of days you are to be present on the island are not stated and it’s understood you won’t be a full time resident (someone who spends more than 6 months in country). But you should plan to spend “a reasonable amount of time” in Malta, whatever that means.
Cyprus is the third smallest nation in the European Union and made it on to the world stage by seizing wealthy foreigners cash to bail out their banks during their 2013 recession. Surprisingly, from this mess came their current citizenship offer.
In order to bring back international deposits, and ensure these investors wouldn’t face a similar fate, Cyprus began offering passports and citizenship with investments of €2.5 million. As a second passport holder you will receive the same rights and protections of any Cyprus citizen.
Another use of the citizenship program was to compensate the mostly Russian foreign depositors whose cash they’d “borrowed” and converted into equity. Many of these high net worth Russian investors were given special deals in appreciation for their mandatory contribution.
Austria is the gold standard of the second passport and citizenship by investment programs. If money is no object, this is the passport to buy.
It’s the most valuable passport available for purchase, the best EA passport, and offers visa-free travel to 171 countries. A second passport from Austria is the 4th most valuable passport in the world.
And it’s the most expensive second passport. You can qualify by making a donation of €2 to €4 million or by investing about €10 million in an approved business. Such a business is expected to employ a significant number of people and generate taxable income. The amount of investment and business type are negotiable.
Expect fees and other charges to exceed $500,000 in this program.
Like the Austrian business program, this citizenship by investment option was approved and signed in to law in late 2014. It’s just getting started and no second passports have been issued as of this writing.
Russia requires you to invest in to a business or setup your own venture that will employ a number of people and generate tax revenues to the country.
Because of the value of the ruble to the US dollar, the Russian offer is one of the most cost effective… and the only from a world power. You might qualify with an investment $165,000.
In 2014, Russian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 100 countries and territories. This will change in 2015. For example, Ukraine will probably be removed from the list. A Russian passport currently ranks 38th in the world.
Please see my post Russian Second Passport Program for more information. Remember that this opportunity is focused on bringing business and jobs into Russia rather than cash from the sale of passports, so it functions differently from the others described here.
Dominica is the least expensive of the Caribbean passports. A second passport from Dominica will cost a family of four (applicant, spouse and two children under 18-years-old) about $250,000, plus $25,000 for each additional child under age 25. With filing, registration and professional fees, applicants can anticipate a total cost of $350,000.
To put it another way, a family of four can obtain economic citizenship and second passports from Dominica for less than the cost of a single passport from St. Kitts.
The discount is necessary based on how we value second passports. A travel document from Dominica gets you visa-free travel to only 91 countries, making it the 41st most valuable travel document.
Please see my Second Passports article for fees and other information on Dominica (near the bottom of the page).
Antigua and Barbuda
Like St. Kitts (below), you can buy an Antiguan passport for a $275,000 donation or a $500,000 investment in real estate, plus about $60,000 in fees. Also like St. Kitts, the passport gives you visa-free travel to 132 countries and is ranked 24th.
The St. Kitts and Antigua programs are mirror images of each other. If you’re going to buy the passport by making a donation to the government, you might as well save yourself $50,00 and go with Antigua. If you choose real estate, then St. Kitts might be the better choice.
As of April 14, 2015, a second passport from Antigua gives you visa-free travel to Canada, where a passport from St. Kitts does not.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts has become the #1 seller of second passports in the world. You can buy a passport with a $295,000 “donation” to their sugar fund or by investing at least $500,000 in real estate. You never need visit St. Kitts nor take a citizenship test… simply pay the money or buy the property and you’re good to go.
Unless you plan to live in St. Kitts, I recommend the “donation” option. Real estate in St. Kitts is overvalued. When you add in taxes and maintenance costs, you’re better off paying the fee. And you’ll be lucky to find a single family home for around $500,000… more likely $800,000 to $1 million.
If you insist on the real estate tract, consider a condo timeshare. But, be warned, the island is filled with mostly empty timeshares and you’ll have a tough time recouping your “investment.”
The St. Kitts passport will get you visa-free travel to 132 countries, with Brazil being recently added to the list. Unfortunately, in November of 2014, Canada announced it would no longer allow St. Kitts citizens to enter without a visa.
The St. Kitts passport is ranked 24th in the world in 2016. Expect it to drop a few notches in 2015. Please see my Second Passports page for details.
Grenada reopened its citizenship by investment in 2014 (having closed it from 2001 through 2013). The current version requires an investment of $250,000 in an approved real estate project.
A second passport from Grenada lets you access 110 countries, including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Panama, and most British Commonwealth nations. It does not give you visa-free travel to Canada or the US.
As far as I can determine, only one real estate development has been approved, the Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club. Had there been more investment options, I may have ranked Grenada above St. Kitts. It’s a second passport which is not on anyone’s radar and a transaction which can be completed in private.
BUY AN EU PASSPORT FROM DUBAI
Visa on arrival changes for European passport holders
The Department of Naturalization and Residency (DNRD – Immigration Department) has recently announced changes to the ‘visa on arrival’ regulations for European passport holders.
Holders of all European passports residing in the European Schengen countries will now receive a 90 day single entry visa on arrival into the UAE. This visa cannot be extended whilst the passport holder is inside the country, however it is possible to complete a ‘border run’ via land or air.
Passport holders from non-Schengen European countries will no longer receive the 30 day visa on arrival. Instead they will now be granted a 40 day multiple entry visa upon arrival. If the passport holder exits and returns to the UAE within this 40 day period a new visa will not be issued. Instead the time will be taken from the initial 40 day visa and they will be required to exit the country before the expiry of the initial visa. If the time inside the country exceed the 40 days granted, overstay fines will be incurred and charged upon exit of the country.
This visa can be extended inside the country at the Immigration Department for an additional 30 days.
Overstay fines for both scenarios will be as follows: AED 200/- for the first day and AED 100/- for each day that follows.
As both processes are fairly new to the immigration system, we would advise that employees or family members arriving into the UAE from any of the above countries that don’t hold a residency visa confirm with the immigration officer at the airport the status of their visa. It is also important to ensure that the immigration file number is clearly written in their passport along side the entry stamp.
Kindly note that passport holders of all other non European countries previously eligible for a standard 30 day extendable stamp on arrival will continue to receive this stamp when they enter the country.
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