Advantages of a Second Passport

Traveling with a second or even a third passport is becoming far more commonplace and accepted – that’s the conclusion of a recent article in the New York Times called Carrying a Second Passport? It’s not just for spies covering the advantages of travel with multiple passports, second citizenships and naturalization. Many Americans, says the article, don’t even realize that they already hold dual nationality and have the right to carry a second passport. Others, of course, don’t realize that they can completely legally buy a second passport through a so-called “Economic Citizenship” program.

For example, Alessandro Pappalardo, an artist in New York, holds passports from Italy and Argentina. Last year, he added an American one. Previously an airline employee in Argentina, he said, “I used to go a lot to Brazil, and I would always decide what passport to show depending on what line was shorter.”

Another example quoted in the article is Stefan Stefanov, who holds both United States and Bulgarian passports and works in Poland. He decides which passport to use depending on where he is headed for. “Of course, I don’t hide that I am a U.S. citizen,” Mr. Stefanov said. “But I don’t parade it either.”

Although statistics are hard to track down, as the world becomes more international and American citizens frequently feel discrimated against or targeted when traveling overseas, more Americans seem want second passports. “Savvy travelers and business travelers want to make sure they have two passports based on nationality because there are certain advantages,” says Jan Dvorak, president of Travisa, a passport services company in Washington, D.C., quoted in the Times article.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to holding a second passport for the global citizen is the ability to work without restriction in various countries – a particular benefit of passports from countries in the European Union. Also, says Dvorak , carrying a second passport is “a way of hiding where one has been,” when traveling among countries with soured relations – for example between Israel and Arab countries.

So how does one actually go about obtaining a second passport? As a general rule, to obtain a passport you must first become a citizen of the country whose passport you wish to carry. Once that is completed, the process of applying for a second passport is straightforward. Of course, it’s qualifying for the second citizenship that is the difficult part. But there are ways, even if you don’t have Irish, British, Italian or German ancestors. Israel, for example, allows anyone of Jewish heritage to use what is called aliyah, or the ‘Law of Return’.  This grants instant Israeli citizenship to anyone of Jewish ancestry or anyone who converts to Judaism.

Ruth Yoffe is another example quoted in the Times article who also carries a second passport. Ruth is the founder of Reloop Designs, a company that hires handicapped people in Cambodia to weave trendy baskets from recycled plastic. As a citizen of the United States and New Zealand, she travels frequently throughout Southeast Asia. “For obvious safety reasons, I always try and travel and put my visas on my New Zealand passport,” she said. “On a plane, I don’t want to be identified as an American if I have that choice, depending on where I am heading.”

Another advantage is cost savings. Visas are cheaper for New Zealanders. “They assume anyone else from any other country can’t be as rich” as Americans, Ms. Yoffe said. Many countries such as Brazil charge extra fees to Americans to reflect the cost of obtaining a US visa for citizens of that country.

Alex Thomas, the corporate manager of Travel Document Systems, a visa and passport services company in Washington, is quoted as saying that some of his clients are “uneasy traveling with a U.S. passport, and if they have an additional passport, they prefer to use it…. four or five people a month who ask specifically what they need to do to get a passport” for another country… Because of the way things are going in the world,” he said, he expects that number to rise.

What the Times article omits to mention, however, perhaps on grounds of political correctness, is the possibility of buying a second passport. So called “Economic Citizenship” programs allow wealthy individuals and families to purchase a second citizenship from a country such as St Kitts and Nevis or Dominica. The only requirement to obtain one of these passports is to make an economic investment in the country.

Although expensive, these high end economic citizenship programs are often worthwhile for wealthy individuals who do not have the time or inclination to wait the two to five years necessary to establish residence in another country and apply for citizenship via naturalization in one of the more liberal countries for obtaining second passports such as Dominican Republic or Paraguay. Additionally, they have the advantage of being completely tax free and not being mired in bureaucracy or military service obligations.

Second passports and citizenships, as an important asset for sovereign individuals, are a frequent topic in The Q Wealth Report. We keep readers up to date on the frequent changes to the rules. If you are interested in obtaining a second citizenship or passport, for privacy, freedom and protection, you need The Q Wealth Report. Sign up today on this site!

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