Citizenship by Marriage: 13 Passports to get by Marrying a Foreigner

Written by Andrew Henderson
i

Dateline: Tokyo, Japan

For years, the stereotype of marrying a foreigner for a green card has been prevalent in the Western world. In modern Western culture, it is assumed that someone from an emerging economy marrying a

US person or other Westerner is merely seeking a life of opportunity.

Now, I’m not going to argue that position one way or the other. Nor do I particularly recommend seeking out foreigners for citizenship status. Heck, with so many tax requirements, who wants to acquire US citizenship (or even a green card) anyway?

However, the stereotypical process of marrying a foreigner for a visa or a green card can go both ways. There are countries around the world that offer expedited naturalization to those who want citizenship by marriage and the second citizenship that comes with it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you find some random floozie to marry exclusively for the purposes of obtaining citizenship. However, our adage of “go where you’re treated best” can apply just as much to dating as it does to legal tax reduction, and it’s only reasonable to think that a global citizen would consider potential partners from countries outside of their own.

One common misconception is that marrying a foreigner gives you citizenship immediately: this is only true in rare cases, and generally only in random countries.

Instead, marrying a citizen generally gives you the ability to obtain residency in their country. In the wealthiest countries, such as Canada and Ireland, marriage only gives you a reason to live in the country and become naturalized the same way as everyone else.

This can mean years of maintaining a substantial presence in the country and paying taxes. As such, the idea of citizenship by marriage to get a “Tier A” passport may not be a good idea for high earners concerned about tax minimization.

In some other countries, however, marriage to a local offers a fast track that reduces the timeline to naturalization. You generally still need to put in some time there, but it could be far less substantial and may not even require you to pay a lot of taxes.

Instant Citizenship by Marriage

Here a few of the best ones:

1. BRAZIL

How to get a second passport by marriage in Brazil

Brazil has a very good passport and allows dual citizenship.

With a relatively unpublicized residency by investment program, Brazil offers foreigners a bureaucratic, yet straightforward process if you have some money to invest in the country. As a permanent resident of Brazil, you can apply for naturalization after four years of “uninterrupted residence” and strong ties to Brazil.

However, those who have a Brazilian spouse qualify to apply for a second citizenship after just one year of uninterrupted residence in the country.

My friend Neil Strauss, who wrote the book Emergency, has talked about “knocking up a Brazilian woman”. While it may not sound classy, have immediate family ties entitles you to Brazilian citizenship within one year. That means citizenship by marriage is possible, just as it is by giving birth or adopting a child.

Simply being married to a native Brazilian can be equally beneficial for claiming a second passport. Brazil has been noted for not extraditing its own citizens while they are on Brazilian soil, however this only applies to natural-born Brazilians (in case you’re a criminal).

Brazil is a diverse melting pot that allows dual citizenship for naturalized spouses as of 2016, and its passport offers excellent visa-free travel, including to Russia.

2. ISRAEL

How to get a second passport by marriage

Israel has somewhat complicated laws when it comes to living there and becoming a citizen as a spouse of a Jewish person, but they still have a lot to offer passport-wise.

While some say it’s just good common sense to marry a Jewish girl, marrying a Jew has other benefits. Israel’s Law of Return is somewhat complicated, but allows Jews and their descendants to obtain permanent residence in Israel rather easily.

An Israeli passport does restrict you from traveling to most of the Middle East, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and living in Israel comes with a high tax burden. However, it is an above average travel document for the right person.

3. SPAIN

How to get a second passport by marriage

Though things can get a bit difficult due to bureaucracy, you can be granted residence in Spain only after a year of living and paying taxes there.

There’s no need to invest a bunch of money into Spain’s residence by investment real estate program.

I’m not bullish on any asset class in Spain, for obvious reasons. Legal residents of Spain are subject to the same type of colonoscopy-by-the-taxman charade that US citizens are, and becoming a naturalized Spaniard through residence is a pain.

Naturalization in Spain is a highly bureaucratic process and usually requires ten years of solid residence in the country. The tax burden for those ten years could be quite high. However, those married to a

Spanish citizen are able to apply for Spanish citizenship after just one year of tax residence in the country. And a Spanish passport is an excellent travel document offering freedom of movement in the EU.

4. PORTUGAL

How to get a second passport by marriage

If you’re married to a Portuguese person, it will be much easier to get residency, though you will still have to wait a while until you get a passport.

As in neighboring Spain, Portugal requires those who obtain Portuguese residency to live in the country for at least six years before applying for a passport. However, those married to a Portuguese citizen can apply for naturalization more quickly.

The process doesn’t even require you to actually spend time on Portuguese soil, meaning you could live overseas with a Portuguese spouse and still qualify. However, while the process is often easier on foreigner spouses, naturalization does require you to learn some of the Portuguese language and have ties to the country.

5. MEXICO

How to get a second passport by marriage

Marry a Mexican citizen and apply for naturalization after just two years.

While you can’t obtain Mexican citizenship through any of the economic citizenship scams, you can shave three years off the normal naturalization process and obtain a Mexican passport through marriage.

As the spouse of a Mexican, you are entitled to apply for naturalization after just two years of living with that spouse in Mexico.

While the United States government and many US persons may have convinced you that Mexico is a dirt poor country everyone is clamoring to get out of, plenty of people are moving there, including many US persons.

The Mexican passport is a pretty good travel document, ranking as one of the 25 best passports in the world with visa-free access to 133 countries, including the entire Schengen Area of Europe.

6. IRELAND

How to get a second passport by marriage

If your spouse is from Ireland and you’re willing to live there for a couple of years, you can apply for a passport after three years of marriage or civil relationship.

Don’t have Irish heritage to claim Irish citizenship by descent? Those married to, or in a registered civil relationship with, an Irish citizen can apply for an Irish passport after one year of “reckonable residence” in the European country, provided they have been married or in a civil union with their partner for three years.

Unlike some other countries, Ireland now recognizes gay marriage, so your sexual orientation won’t hold you back from a passport.

The residency requirement prior to naturalization means you’ll be on the hook for the country’s high income taxes for at least one year, and you’ll need to spend a good amount of time in Ireland for at least two years to qualify.

Once you have the Irish passport, you’ll be able to live anywhere in Europe and travel almost anywhere on earth. Corporate taxes are quite low, too.

7. POLAND

How to get a second passport by marriage

Want to be a citizen of Poland? You will have to spend at least two years there, pay taxes and know the language.

Similar to Ireland’s program, Poland allows those with a Polish spouse to become a naturalized citizen after three years of marriage and two years of uninterrupted residence in the country. Unlike Ireland, Poland is a conservative country that does not recognize gay marriage or civil unions, so you will need to be legally married.

In addition to being married for three years, you must actually spend the majority of two years in Poland.

While the country’s presence in the Schengen Area means you may be able to sneak out, the Polish government actually wants you to live in their country. Your year of residence will incur tax on your worldwide income at rates of 18-32%, although if you have an offshore company there may be ways to legally reduce your income.

That said, this is still one of the more difficult citizenships to get by marriage.

There is no technical language requirement to obtain Polish citizenship by marriage, which is surprisingly as the government has nearly mandated that citizens by descent speak Polish. However, two years of living in Poland should help you learn some of the language.

8. COLOMBIA

How to get a second passport by marriage

If you come from another Latin country, you can obtain Colombian citizenship in about a year after marrying a Colombian. Otherwise, it’s going to be at least five years of waiting.

Colombia is the second freest economy in South America, a continent with endless opportunity. And, in my opinion, the place is perhaps the biggest hidden gem in all of the Americas, so much so that I’m personally obtaining residency by making an investment there.

However, you can speed up the 5-10 year-long process by marrying a Colombian citizen. By marriage, the timeline is shortened to only two years to obtain Colombian citizenship. The only faster way to get your hands on a Colombian passport is if you’re from another Latin country, in which case the timeline is one year.

9. SWITZERLAND

How to get a second passport by marriage

You will have to be married for five years to be eligible to apply for Swiss citizenship, but the perks you get with it are innumerable.

Perhaps one of the most sought after second citizenships (or first citizenships, for that matter) on earth,

Switzerland offers those married to Swiss nationals a “simplified naturalization” process.

You may remember that Tina Turner recently relinquished her US citizenship to become Swiss after fulfilling a rather long twelve year residency requirement. Getting a Swiss passport through permanent residence alone is a slow process.

However, the simplified naturalization process allows for spouses of Swiss nationals to apply for citizenship after five years of marriage, so long as they live in the confederation. You don’t even need to speak German, French, or Italian; but you should show integration into the Swiss way of life. That means no more being late for meetings.

It is also possible to qualify while residing outside of Switzerland, but that process takes an extra year. Under this option, you can apply for citizenship after six years of marriage, as long as you can demonstrate some evidence of “close ties” to Switzerland, such as frequent visits during your marriage.

10. BELIZE

How to get a second passport by marriage

Becoming a Belize citizen doesn’t require much – you can apply for a passport after spending one year in the country.

Belize has several second residency programs, including a popular QRP program for “retirees” forty-five and over that does not lead to citizenship. If you’re a bit younger and find yourself married to a Belize citizen, however, you can apply for naturalization after just one year of legal residence in Belize.

A Belize passport doesn’t offer excellent visa-free travel, but it does fill in the gaps that many other Tier B passports don’t have, such as the UK, Ireland, Mexico, and South Africa. Belize is also an English-speaking country and has a low population count, meaning you can easily pass as Belizean when traveling.

11. SERBIA

How to get a second passport by marriage

Serbians are charming and friendly, not to mention that their laws on how long you’re supposed to actually live in the country aren’t very precise, which gives you more opportunities to travel around and explore.

Even been to Belgrade? Walk around for an hour and you’ll realize that some of the most beautiful people on earth come from Serbia and the Balkans. Not only that, but everyone I’ve spoken to has been very warm and approachable. Not only that, but Serbia is one of my “hidden gems” for lower-cost living in Europe and has the world’s fastest improving passport.

So, how do you become a Serbian citizen through marriage? Quite simply, you must have been married to a Serbian for three years, maintain permanent residence, and sign paperwork claiming that Serbia is “your country”.

As with many such countries, the rules on how much time you actually need to live in Serbia are rather nebulous and not always enforced, but they are generally less strict than western countries that count every day.

12. UKRAINE

How to get a second passport by marriage

Want to become Ukranian? Great, you can do that after a couple of years, but you will have to renounce your previous citizenship.

I’m adding Ukraine because more than one guy has emailed asking “What about Ukraine?” since this article was originally published. While Ukraine is well-known for its “mail order bride” industry, you can find plenty of normal, attractive people the old fashioned way: actually going there.

Ukraine has a fast track naturalization process for foreigners married to Ukrainian citizens, reducing the timeline to citizenship from five years to only two. However, Ukraine technically does not allow dual citizenship, meaning you are likely to be asked to renounce your current citizenship before claiming a Ukrainian passport.

If you’re a US citizen looking to ditch your US passport anyway, this might not be a bad option, especially if you have another more secure second passport already.

Of note, however, should be the slow speeds at which many citizenship applications are processed. As always, the quoted timelines are the requirements to APPLY, not to be approved and handed your new passport.

13. CAPE VERDE

How to get a second passport by marriage

Marrying a Cape Verde citizen will allow you to get their citizenship right away, should you so desire. If you want the fastest second passport by marriage, the African country Cape Verde may be your best option.

That’s because anyone who marries a Cape Verde citizen is entitled to apply for “citizenship by option” immediately after marriage. Unlike other countries, both men and women can qualify for a passport through this method.

Of course, this is not without its own set of challenges. First, the population of Cape Verde is barely 500,000 people, meaning a limited number of romantic contenders. Second, Cape Verde is an archipelago far off the west African coast, making it hard to get to and making living a pain. Oh, and most of the population speaks Portuguese.

That said, if you can manage to find a Cape Verde citizen somewhere – perhaps in Portugal – you can get married and then immediately skip the five-year naturalization path and obtain your citizenship almost immediately.

OTHER CITIZENSHIP OPTIONS

If you don’t qualify for citizenship by marriage, or you want more information on second passports in general, you can learn more here.

I wouldn’t rely on marrying someone to get a passport, perhaps because changing such an intimate part of my life isn’t something I’m willing to do just to get a passport.

However, citizenship could be a nice cherry on top of an otherwise fulfilling relationship with someone you met in your Nomad lifestyle.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: May 25, 2020 at 1:37PM

Start Your Offshore Journey Today

The Nomad Capitalist team has helped hundreds of people create and execute prolific offshore plans to help them legally reduce their taxes, become dual citizens, and live the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle of success

Start Your Offshore Journey Today

The Nomad Capitalist team has helped hundreds of people create and execute prolific offshore plans to help them legally reduce their taxes, become dual citizens, and live the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle of successWould you like to be next?

Get Our Latest Offshore Strategies

Join our email list and we’ll send our best articles, videos and exclusive content right to your inbox. 

Its Free.

Read this next..

12 Comments

  1. dd

    No thank you. I am happily unmarried and plan to keep it that way. Being married is the opposite of being a nomad. Though the idea of second citizenship by being responsible for a child in that country is interesting. This is the first time I have heard of it. It is worth exploring further. Does any country other than Brazil offer it?

    • Nomad Capitalist

      There are other countries, namely those where children acquire citizenship of the soil. Colombian citizenship is given to those born there provided one part is a resident or citizen, and the process is expedited for parents of a Colombian.

  2. Jose L Romero

    Andrew,

    My Dad is a Spanish citizen. Is it possible that his kids could become citizens as well? Just a question??

    • Nomad Capitalist

      Being “Spanish by origin” includes having at least one Spanish parent. I’d call the consulate. We’re also bringing one of the top guys on citizenship by descent to Passport to Freedom in Cancun to help people.

      • Jose L Romero

        Andrew,

        Thanks for the reply I’m going to call the consulate and find out how i can get a second citizenship. Looking forward in reading a post about citizen by descent!

        Thanks for your help Andrew!

        Jose

  3. doremi287

    I’m an US Citizen living in Mexico. Do you have to get married (as recognized by government, papers and all) OR just living with a Mexican girl for two years. What constitutes a spouse in Mexico. Because I will tell you, nowadays, many Mexicans are choosing to just live together and raise a family that way, rather than bother with formal and expensive ceremony or ridiculous govenment taxes and fees. Any quick answers?

  4. PeacefulLife

    Matt. Your story is my story. 3 passports and 2 perm residency cards. The third citz by descent was much more difficult but made it happen. I don’t want to marry, I don’t care to own possessions aside from a lot of cash and plan to travel and enjoy from 50yo to the end!
    A proud nomad here as well.

  5. Jordan Geary Bevans

    This is an excellent post, I’ve become very appreciative of your work and am grateful to learn the benefits of a second Residence/ Citizenship not just as a means to escape from taxation of the US Government but as well as the benefits of a second travel document. I once had a Swiss Girlfriend and although I though Switzerland was the most beautiful place in terms of natural beauty that ive ever seen the Cost of living there and the snobbish attitude of the locals is hard to imagine going there for anything other than to See the beautiful mountains, lakes and Cheese.

    Since Then I have been Interested In Asia I love the Cheap cost of living, amount of Development/ infrastructure, natural beauty and adventure of Thailand but hate the Government, politics and Visa policies of Thailand. I have noticed that you seem to be very high on Malaysia and claim that it is the Gem of Asia. having been there twice before on visa runs I agree %100 Malaysia provides everything Singapore does and more without the high cost of living. as well as a fairly Strong Passport but I’m curious what an American would have to do to get residency in Malaysia or even citizenship.

  6. Helen Sara

    My name is Helen Sara i am from United States, I was in a relationship with Ben and we loved and cherished ourselves for 2 good years and every thing was going on smoothly but February 14, 2016 a day i can call a lovers day we both had misunderstanding because i answered a call from a guy that is asking me out for a date but i refused,and he told me that the relationship is over and that he is fed up with me and i begged him because i love him so much but he refused me i was so down cast and i felt the world has come to an end for me but my friend told me about a spell caster that helped her sister out in getting her relationship back,a good job and favor in any of her endeavor but at first i was scared but i have to give this man a trial because i love Ben very much and i am not willing to loose him to any woman,so i ordered returning my love spell from this great spell caster that made me a happy woman again to say it all my ex came back to me with much love and a caring heart…i am testifying to this great spell caster Prophet of Goddess. if you need his help you can contact him on [[email protected]] OR call him on +2347066447903

  7. Linda Duncan

    I was born in the US but always felt as though I should have been from the UK. However, I currently lack the funds to travel there. I have SOME Irish blood in me, but I have a relative who traced our family tree all the way back to the Revolutionary War, where a Scottish relative fought as a Minuteman. How difficult would it be to get secondary citizenship in Scotland with that heritage?

  8. IloveThisInfo

    Hey man, how are you? Ive been following this blog for a while. Great article and information. I hope you stay around until i die =D. The web need more like this.

    Currently in Panama to get my perm residency. Just a quick general question… Do you know about the naturalization process where they can give you a citizenship, but ONLY if you give up your current (i.e my lovely Swedish passport). Like.. Are they even verifying this? If yes, Is it possible to fake? Really dont want to give up any citizenship. I want to have multiple of them!

  9. IloveThisInfo

    Now when i think about it i maybe could give up me citizenship, get the citizenship i want, and then apply to get my citizenship back “because i changed my mind” =D. Although i rather not go through this process..