This is Week Thirteen 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: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Today I want to talk about one of the challenges people face when they get a second passport. One of the first questions that new passport holders face is “Should I use it?” and if you do, “How do I use it?” and “Am I going to be comfortable using it?” All these questions really boil down to one big question of “What’s going to happen?”
Even I fall into this trap where you worry about using your passport. And when you are a new citizen of the Comoros Islands, you obviously can’t go to a lot of places with your passport without having to really think about what’s possible and what’s not. It is, as I’ve said, the ultimate Plan B passport.
While I got the Comoros passport largely because I just didn’t want to be frustrated with Dominica anymore, it does have some travel benefits that we’ll talk about next week. The good news in the Caribbean that just came out in 2017 is that St. Lucia lowered their price to match Dominica’s program.
So, St. Lucia is now requiring $100,000 for a single applicant and they’re easing the process. They eliminated the requirement to be a multi-millionaire, they’re making the process easier and they’re getting rid of travel requirements. So St. Lucia could be a good option and one that I maybe could have gone through a few months ago.
That said, I have my passport from the Comoros Islands now and so I am learning to what extent I can use it. As I mentioned, there are some travel benefits, despite the limited number of visa-free countries I can visit with my new passport. The one big benefit is that I have visa-free access to Asia. This is especially nice because there are a number of other middle tier passports that do not allow visa-free access to Asia. So the Comoros passport is nice for that reason.
Putting the passport to the test
To test this all out, though, I decided to make Malaysia my first example. It would be my first step to see just how legitimate a Comoros passport actually was. So I got on a plane to Malaysia. I was flying from Egypt where I couldn’t use the Comoros passport, so I left as a US citizen, flew through Doha and when I checked in for the next flight I showed them the Comoros passport to go to Malaysia.
The guy barely even looked at it.
This seemed like a good sign, but it almost seemed a little bit too good to be true. More often than not, they ask for your passport 17 times and they get on your case. In fact, one time, just as an ID I showed a guy a passport that I knew wouldn’t get me into the next country and the guy freaked out.
I said, “I’m sorry, my mistake” and showed him my US passport. He said, “Okay, you’re going to use that one, right?” So it was almost a little bit eery that they didn’t ask me any questions this time. The guy in Doha seemed to not care. Maybe he knew that Malaysia is a pretty easy place to get into for people from most countries.
Either way, I got to Malaysia, ran off the plane and did what I typically do, which is to make sure I get past everybody to get to the front of the passport line as quickly as possible. I got there and presented my passport to the woman at the immigration desk. She looked at it and said, “Okay, great. It’s a new passport. How long are you staying here?” I told her 16 days and she pulled out her little book and took a look at the guide because she didn’t even know the country.
As she looked through the guide I said: “30 days, right?” And, sure enough, she found The Comoros Islands and I was good to stay in Malaysia for 30 days. She stamped my passport for the 30 days as usual and said: “Thank you, have a nice day.” And that was that.
Special travel benefits or simple rules?
It’s funny because I noticed a change in myself using a lower passport — I was much more friendly. I walked up and said Selamat Petang, where most of the time you don’t say a word to these guys and they don’t say a word to you. I was very friendly, but it was basically the same process as any other time.
It’s interesting that as a US citizen you think that if you’re from out of the US, they won’t want you there or it will be harder to get in. And perhaps things were so easy for me because — despite not knowing where my country is located — I look like someone from a reputable country. I say this because, let’s be honest, in Asia they look at certain people and judge your legitimacy based on looks. However, I don’t entirely believe that because someone from our team who needed a visa to enter Malaysia (but wasn’t aware that she needed one because they just changed the rule) was denied entry. Even though she is white and blond, they didn’t let her in.
So really, it comes down to the country.
And while there are some stories out there of people not being let into a certain country because of their passport (for example the guy who flew to the UK with his Dominica passport and said he invested to get it and got kicked out) I think that in general, immigration officers are just there to follow the rules. In my nominal experience so far over the last year or so, if it says Comoros gets 30 days, they give you Comoros for 30 days.
Now, what I think is not a bad strategy to have if you’re coming as a Comorian and not as an American is to check the requirements and see whether you are required to show proof of funds or meet some other requirement in order to gain entrance. So some countries require you to show $50 a day in cash, a valid credit card or your hotel reservation. If, as an American, you’re used to just waltzing right in, you may find it helpful to have your hotel reservation and return ticket printed out as a new citizen of a lesser-known country.
Have some cash on you. Have the Amex platinum card ready to show. Dress nicely. I’m working this out myself with the different approaches, but there is a spirit of the law that is often not followed for folks from the West that might apply to you now. Quite frankly, based on my experience up to this point, they’re just going to follow the letter of the law. So don’t freak out and think you have special privileges that you’re going to lose by carrying a lower-tier passport. If you get in, you get in.
That’s been my experience so far.
Get your economic citizenship & 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.