Dateline: Valencia, Spain
There is no doubt that getting a second passport is an important step in designing your offshore strategy. Whether to secure your Plan B, increase investment opportunities, or improve visa-free travel options, a second passport is among the most important flags to plant.
But not every second passport is made alike, and not every passport program is equal in quality either. In fact, following the advice you see being discussed online can potentially land you in a lot of trouble.
I recently read an article on another blog that gave a surprising recommendation for some shady ways to buy a fake passport.
The basic idea behind the article was that you could make a considerable donation to a president’s campaign in exchange for a passport authorized by the president. Regardless of whether or not you think such a transaction is corrupt, other people do… and engaging in shady activity is a bad idea.
(That kind of corruption is only a good idea when it comes to the Clinton Foundation or running for President of the United States).
You don’t want a second passport that carries the hint of corruption. I promise you.
There are various countries around the world that allow this type of agreement between the president and investors, but it’s supposed to be based on legitimate waiving of naturalization as prescribed in the constitution, and not because you paid some official off.
Either way, I highly caution you from pursuing a second passport in this fashion and recommend you choose another route. Even if it is issued by a legitimate government, it will (eventually) do you about as much good as a fake passport.
How to identify a fake passport deal
If you want a real second passport through investment, be prepared for a residency period. Anyone who tells you that you can get a passport in two weeks is a total scam.
There are several countries with a quick timeline toward naturalization, and still more that have fast track economic citizenship programs. None of them promote a two-week timeline in exchange for campaign donations.
Besides residency, you should also be prepared to ADD VALUE to your new residence and place of citizenship. In some cases, like Dominica, the government determines the value they want. In other cases, the government says “come and invest, impress us, then ask about citizenship and we’ll decide.”
While it’s not a great example because about four passports have been issued, Austria allows multimillionaires willing to make a sizable donation to the country to “impress them” into granting citizenship. Not exactly an envelope-under-the-table kind of thing.
Paying off a guy at immigration is NOT adding value. You should NEVER bribe ANYONE to get a passport. Bribing foreign officials is illegal for US citizens under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
A “donation” (wink wink) doesn’t let you off the hook, either. In fact, it’s a good way to lose your passport.
As a rule, never give money to government officials to get yourself a passport. There is a difference between meeting criteria and paying someone for a passport. Whether the criteria are set in stone or a bit vaguer, there will be a LEGAL criteria outlined in the letter of the law.
Don’t do anything gray market, use “special connections” or pursue anything of the type. You can avoid gray and black market passports by steering clear of nebulous offers that are too cheap or too anonymous. If you don’t know exactly where your passport is coming from, stay away.
Instead, focus on countries with established citizenship by investment programs that allow you to do just that: invest and obtain citizenship.
A fake passport won’t buy you freedom
As with all things, taking the time to do things right will pay off in the end. You’ll enjoy more freedom following the law than getting a fast passport with shady methods. Fail to do things right and you’ll constantly have to deal with the fear of the consequences — or the consequences themselves.
So be cautious.
In the end, spending the time to get a legitimate second passport is worth it. If you need help finding the right program for you, apply for a Strategy Call so we can determine your best options as part of a personalized and completely legal offshore plan.