Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is a melting pot of people from around the world. Malay, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and more. While many of these people are Malaysian citizens, there are also quite a number of expats with any number of different passports here.
We talk a lot about second passports here, and I wanted to address another potential second passport scam. Too many people believe that getting a second citizenship is as easy as walking to the corner store and laying out the credit card.
But nothing could be further from the truth. So I wanted to discuss another kind of second passport program that’s out there on the internet.
Is a diplomatic second passport a legitimate second citizenship?
To be honest, most of the information about second passport programs online today is either incorrect or a scam. Even some relatively legitimate individuals will try and tell you they’re the only issues in your area who are licensed to help you with this passport or that.
On top of that, dozens – probably hundreds – of second passport providers have come and gone.
One of the most common offerings from these fly-by-night passport companies is the so-called “diplomatic second passport.”
Obviously, the concept of diplomatic passports is legitimate. Such travel documents are provided to the do-nothing bureaucrats who travel on official state business and even get their own line at immigration. Diplomatic passports are usually a different color than traditional passports, with black being the most commonly used.
After all, all of the lazy embassy workers and warmongers traveling the globe on Big Government business need to feel special.
Diplomatic passport holders often even receive a waiver on visa fees. Their entire families can get diplomatic travel documents as well.
As you can imagine, there’s no way you could get such a passport from your home country if you live in the western world, short of swallowing your dignity and getting a job at the State Department. Even then, you’d have to be posted overseas or travel on diplomatic business.
However, it has been put forward by some sellers of second passports that there are smaller nations willing to make anyone a “diplomat” – complete with the appropriate passport – for as little as a few thousand dollars.
Obviously, this is a giant second passport scam. No nation, even some banana republic, issues normal second passports let alone diplomatic ones to any Tom, Dick, or Harry without a background check.
Even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t do it for one “low price” of $2,995.
Consider the few legitimate economic citizenship programs offered to the general public. St. Kitts and Nevis has the longest-running such program, now almost thirty years in the making.
St. Kitts would certainly fit the bill as the kind of small, impoverished country the second passport scammers would have you believe will dole out diplomatic passports to anyone with a pulse. Of the nation’s two islands, the larger one (St. Kitts) is home to all of 53,000 people, while Nevis houses only 12,000. Pretty small, right?
The nation’s economy is the 176th largest in the world. Also small. On top of that, St. Kitts was traditionally dependent on the harvesting of sugar cane, a crop that has been devastated on the islands as world prices plummeted.
However, St. Kitts shows just how valuable the second citizenship market is. A donation to the country’s Sugar Fund starts at $250,000.
You read that right: a quarter-million US dollars. A lot higher than the few thousand dollars the murky passport purveyors online are promising. And that’s just for a regular passport. St. Kitts doesn’t issue diplomatic passports, although I suppose they might knight you if you paid enough on top of the initial “donation”.
The “too cheap” second passport offer is something to watch out for. When you’re planning your personal sovereignty – and possibly your expatriation from your home country – “cheap” isn’t a word that should be entering your mind. You want to do the process right, which I why I recommend using a real attorney to either handle or at least supervise the process.
And unless you’re using a real, licensed attorney in a western jurisdiction, I wouldn’t even consider getting a passport from a country that isn’t listed as being available to the general public. The most common jurisdictions include St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Dominica (not the Dominican Republic), and Grenada.
Second passport programs from countries such as Cambodia aren’t technically economic citizenship programs such as those above but can be legitimate in certain circumstances. (Do you want a Cambodian passport, though?)
It’s possible to get a passport from a more developed country like Austria, and one of my contacts in the second passport field has gotten people legitimate passports in similar countries after long negotiations. However, this route is one that will cost you millions – occasionally even tens of millions – of dollars.
On top of the price of getting a legitimate second passport, the diplomatic passport scammers will often practically claim that you can have the FedEx man dropping off your new passport by the end of the week. No country – I repeat, none – is going to give anyone a passport without a background check.
Do you really think any government wants to make its travel document a completely useless piece of rubbish by handing one out to every Iranian or Afghani who has $5,000? That country would see the rest of the world shut it out in every way, and the country’s natural-born citizens would revolt.
The idea of a diplomatic second passport also makes me uncomfortable for an entirely different reason. Consider for a moment just who would be looking for such programs.
Yes, the idea of being a diplomat may sound cool, but what practical purpose would it really serve? You may have seen stories on a show like 60 Minutes about diplomats running innocent people over in their BMWs and leaving them for dead – and never even being arrested – but is that your goal?
The people looking for diplomatic passports are the same people looking for second passports along with a name change, or for anonymous bank accounts. The kind of people running from the law.
Whether I wanted to pass judgment on those kind of people or not, I certainly don’t want to get wrapped up in some scammy program with them, lest I open myself up to being fingered as a criminal as well.
When it comes to a second passport, make sure you’re getting one for the right reasons. Diversification can be a great tool for legitimate users, but you don’t want to get wrapped up in some shadowy underworld. That includes second passports from countries that no longer offer economic citizenship programs (like Belize), countries that no longer exist (like British Honduras, now known as Belize), and so-called “World Passports” for stateless individuals.
Your government may want you to think having the audacity to devalue their slave card by getting a second passport is the height of treason. The fact is, it’s not, and maintaining dual citizenship, even if you purchased one of your citizenships, is your right. Don’t get sucked into the second passport scams from shady dealers online… the internet is littered with people who sent their cash only to never hear from some far-flung “lawyer” ever again.
Common sense is your best weapon.