Last update: November 2, 2017
Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
There are a number of ways to get a second passport, depending on how badly you want one.
We recently discussed 13 citizenships you could get rather easily by using one of the oldest tricks in the book: marrying a foreigner.
However, obtaining second citizenship is just as important – if not more so – for your children and future generations. For years, surveys such as The Best Places to Be Born have chronicled where children are likely to have it best.
If you live in the United States, you have probably heard the term “anchor baby” positioned in a bad light, but you can use the same principle to give your kids a head start.
I believe the practice of choosing the best country to give birth in should be important to all parents, especially since even the “first world” United Kingdom failed to crack the top 20 places in which to give birth, falling behind the likes of Montenegro and Lithuania. The study concluded that children born in Britain suffer higher infant mortality rates than many emerging countries.
Birth tourism is simple: have a child in a country that provides benefits to all children born there and gives your child the passport you could never have. In many cases, parents of such children enjoy a faster naturalization timeline, as well.
The process of “jus soli” is generally available to anyone who has a child on the territory of a birth tourism country, even if they are a temporary resident or even an illegal alien. The only people whose children don’t qualify for instant citizenship are diplomats.
These countries offer what is called “absolute jus soli“, meaning that the biggest hurdle you’ll face in some countries is having to register your bundle of joy with the local authorities to secure it a passport.
The United States and Canada are the only “first world countries” that offer unconditional citizenship to children born in the territory, although there are plenty of other excellent places that I’d actually prefer to live in.
Here in Asia, Mainland Chinese parents often seek to give birth in Hong Kong to obtain the “right of abode” for their children. (Hong Kongers are Chinese citizens, but with special privileges to reside in Hong Kong.)
Of course, we know that the United States offers such citizenship for the same reasons ancient Rome did: to increase the number of US tax-payers needed to pay off the country’s catastrophic debts.
Giving birth to a child in the United States is setting them up for a lifetime of taxes which they can’t even get out of without renouncing their citizenship. That means even opening a bank account for their college savings will require you to file paperwork with the US government.
For those who want to bestow their child with a second citizenship outside of the highly taxed western world, there are a number of places that offer “jus soli”, or birthright of the soil.
Any child born within that country’s territory becomes a citizen at birth, and there are dozens of countries whose laws allow the practice. So, which countries automatically give a passport and citizenship to children born there, regardless of the nationality of the child’s parents?
Ten years ago, Ireland amended its constitution to end their practice as the last European country offering unconditional citizenship rights to children born to two foreign parents. Malta had amended their earlier, too. Other countries, such as Australia, have similarly tightened their laws.
But when you follow the birth tourism blueprint, you can forget about dual citizenship and give your child multiple citizenships.
Here is the full list of the best countries in which to give birth when seeking birth tourism options, excluding countries where a ban on the practice is currently underway.
6. Costa Rica
9. El Salvador
22. St. Kitts and Nevis
23. St. Lucia
24. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
25. Trinidad and Tobago
27. United States
[One commenter also told us that Chile offers citizenship based on a child’s place of birth.]
Out of that list are a few gems…
Panama, Brazil, and Argentina are particularly noted for their quality medical care, including for world-class facilities that make giving birth there not only easy but much cheaper than any country in the West.
Two of the countries — Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis — sell economic citizenships for six-figure price tags and even charge for your children to receive a passport, as well. Other countries that used to offer citizenship by investment programs, such as Belize, are also attractive birth tourism options.
Similar to how US persons complain of illegal immigrants getting access to welfare benefits for their US citizen child, several countries on this list offer the ability to fast track your own naturalization as the parent of a local child.
In Brazil, the wait is only one year, prompting my friend Neil Strauss to suggest “knocking up a Brazilian girl” in his book Emergency.
And surprisingly, some of these countries offer remarkably good passports. Holders of passports from Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Uruguay, and Venezuela enjoy visa-free travel to all of Central and South America as well Europe’s borderless Schengen Area and almost every country in Europe.
Guatemala passport holders enjoy all of these privileges save the right to travel to Mexico. Nicaragua citizens enjoy Schengen area access, but more limited options within the Americas. And even some of the lesser passports here allow for visa-free travel of some sort to the UK, Ireland, Malaysia, and Singapore.
For someone interested in raising their family in the world’s emerging markets, the Peruvian passport allows for more visa-free travel to Southeast Asia and South American countries than most “first world” passports.
Outside of Canada and Chile, none of these citizenships will allow your child to visit the United States visa-free. But if you’re reading this, you might actually view that as an added benefit rather than a detriment.
Keeping your child in a growing, more laissez-faire environment is the best way to make the most of his or her birth tourism citizenship.
Be careful that you have the most up-to-date information before giving birth overseas, as a number of countries have ended their policy of giving citizenship based on birthplace; these include Australia, most recently, and New Zealand, Ireland, France, Malta, and India.
Of course, only you can determine how far you want to take the second citizenship and birth tourism game in an effort to bestow as many nationalities on your children as possible.
And if you happen to be pregnant now, you could always book your hospital stay and join us for one of our upcoming events on the beach.