This is Week Three of the 26 week series #MyEconomicCitizenship. Each week I give you a glimpse into my life as I share the ups and downs experienced in pursuit of a second passport through economic citizenship. Each feature includes my weekly journal walking you through the process of obtaining economic citizenship, followed by an in-depth look at some of the most important topics people considering economic citizenship should understand. The series is presented by Nomad Capitalist in partnership with Peter Macfarlane & Associates, whom I worked with to obtain my passport. To read the entire series, just click here.
Dateline: Elounda, Greece
When I decided to get my economic citizenship, my initial inclination was to go with Dominica.
First of all, I quickly ruled out all the European citizenship by investment programs. For me — and I imagine for any US citizen — paying €1 million for economic citizenship in Malta (or two million in Cyprus) isn’t an attractive option. You already have great visa-free travel with a US passport, so why pay top dollar for something you already have?
And even if you didn’t make the million euro donation, you’d still be giving away €650,000, plus purchasing a house and buying bonds, among other things. Even if you’re going to renounce your US citizenship, such an expensive investment seems unnecessary when you have so many other decent options.
Since visa-free travel is not the only reason to get an economic citizenship, expensive European citizenship by investment programs were out of the question for me.
If you’re Russian or Chinese or someone who has very bad visa-free travel, then maybe it’s worth it for you to pursue economic citizenship in Malta. By doing so you’ll give yourself a whole host of new travel options.
If you’re a westerner, though, you’re probably better off looking at the Caribbean. It’s more interesting and cost-effective. That’s why I chose to go with the Caribbean. Besides being the cheapest option, Dominica just seemed to make sense because the travel was actually pretty similar.
Even better, the countries opening up to Dominica for visa-free travel are increasing, with recent access approved to the Schengen area and previous visa-free access to the UK and Ireland.
So my inclination to look at Dominica and to choose it was partly because it was the cheapest economic citizenship program, but I also took visa-free travel into account. You may find that another program is a better fit for you depending on the countries you’ll be able to travel to visa-free, so let’s go through and look at each one and the biggest differences between them.
As of 2016, Dominican citizens have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 119 countries. This gives Dominica’s passport a ranking of 41st among all the passports in the world.
But where exactly can you go with a Dominican passport?
You can travel to the northern part of South America, meaning every country minus Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. The Central American countries of Panama, Belize and Costa Rica are visa-free, but you will need a visa for Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Plus, as a CARICOM country, you will have freedom of movement throughout the Caribbean.
As mentioned, Dominica also has visa-free access to the European Union, as well as to the desireable locations of Hong Kong and Singapore. You will also be able to travel to several countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Dominica’s economic citizenship costs $100,000 and you can find more details about it here.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country to offer economic passports. In 2017 a St. Kitts passport will get you into 136 visa-free and visa on arrival countries, making it the 30th best passport in the world. The donation route will cost you $250,000, so let’s look at the 13 additional countries you can travel to for an extra $150,000.
As with Dominica, you will have full access to the Caribbean as a CARICOM member. You will also be able to travel to ALL of Central and South America, minus Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay.
You’ll also have access to the Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland, parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Unlike Dominica, you’ll also be able to travel visa-free to South Korea and parts of the Middle East, including Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Israel.
The downside with St. Kitts and Nevis is that the program seems to be losing credibility and in 2014 the country lost visa-free access to Canada. So, unlike Dominica who’s on the rise, St. Kitts appears to be moving down.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua just started its economic citizenship program in 2012. As of 2017, citizens of Antigua and Barbuda visa-free or visa on arrival access to 136 countries and territories, ranking the Antigua and Barbuda passport 30th in terms of travel freedom (tied with Saint Kitts and Nevis passport).
One of the big things Antigua and Barbuda offers that no other Caribbean country on this list can is visa-free access to Canada. However, Antigua’s program starts out at $250,000, so you should consider whether its worth an extra $150,000 to you just to be able to travel visa-free to Canada. Probably not. You can just apply for a visa.
Still, Antigua and Barbuda provides access to all of the Caribbean (it’s also a CARICOM country), plus Central and South America minus Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Mexico. An Antiguan passport will also get you in to Australia and the majority of Southeast Asia (minus Thailand) as well as Nepal, parts of Africa (including South Africa), Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
You’ll also have access to all of Europe (including Ireland and the UK) and the Middle Eastern countries of Egypt, Iran, Jordan, and Lebanon.
With fewer options than Antigua and St. Kitts, but more than Dominica, St. Lucia is ranked 36th with visa-free and visa on arrival access to 127 countries. In 2015, Saint Lucia gained visa-free access to the Schengen Area, making the passport much more attractive than in the past.
As a CARICOM country, you will have freedom of movement throughout the Caribbean. Additionally, a Saint Lucian passport will give you access to all of Central and South America minus Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Mexico.
You will have access to limited areas of Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as visa-free travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Iran.
Citizenship can be obtained in exchange for a donation of $200,000 to the government or other combinations of donations, businesses and/or investments that you can find here.
in 2017, citizens of Grenada have visa-free access to 124 countries, making it the 37th best passport in the world. You can obtain citizenship by investment with a one-time donation of $200,000 to the National Transformation Fund and receive your citizenship in just over 12 months.
Grenada is another CARICOM country, meaning you will have full access to other countries in the Caribbean community. You will also have visa-free access to every country in South America except Paraguay. However, in Central America you will only have access to Panama, Costa Rica and Belize.
Grenada has access to the Schengen area and, interestingly, is the only country on the list with visa-free access to China. You’ll also have access to parts of Southeast Asia and Africa, as well as Iran, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Last but not least, you can travel to Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea on a Grenadine passport.
One last option…
If none of these Caribbean countries are offering what you’re looking for and you have the money, let’s take a look at what you’ll get with an economic citizenship from Malta.
Malta actually has the 10th best passport in the world with visa-free or visa on arrival access to a total of 167 countries. With a Maltese passport, you can travel visa-free to the entire western hemisphere (minus Cuba), including the United States, Canada and Mexico. If the US is a must for you in terms of visa-free travel, then it might be worth it.
As an EU member, Malta also grants you freedom of movement throughout all of Europe. You’ll also have access to countries such as Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and all of Southeast Asia (with limited visa on arrival in Vietnam).
Finally, you’ll be able to travel visa-free to South Africa and other African countries, plus Iran, Iraq (limited visa on arrival), Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the UAE, and Kuwait.
There’s no doubt Malta offers greater visa-free travel than the Caribbean countries on this list, but ask yourself if it’s worth the extra $500,000+ before you make the decision. It might be right for you, but if you’re a westerner I’d bet that Dominica probably makes the most sense.
Get your own economic citizenship and second passport
My goal in doing this series is to help as many people as possible become global citizens by obtaining second citizenship. I live this stuff, in part, so that I can better help individuals like you reduce taxes, obtain a second passport and experience more freedom.
If you’d like to work with me directly to create a wholistic global citizenship strategy, then click here. We’ll go through an entire deep dive process to determine exactly what you need — from passports to residency to where you’re going to live — all so we can get you to your end goals.
If you’re just interested in getting a passport and already know which passport is the right choice for you, then you can go directly to Peter MacFarlane & Associates’ website and contact them by clicking here.
If you’re still determining which approach you should take, feel free to keep reading this series to garner all the knowledge you need to form a vision and actionable plan for the future.