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Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Second Passport

How to Get a Residence Permit by Opening a Bank Account

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Here at Nomad Capitalist, we consistently champion the need to maintain a global outlook that transcends mere investment strategies to reach every aspect of your life, including your citizenship.

Too many people believe that because they live in a historically stable location, this will always be the case. 

We understand – familiarity is comforting.

But it can also breed contempt so consider this: even if stability persists and things really did remain the same as always – is stagnation really what you want?

The answer has to be a resounding no.

In the past, our extensive research into frontier markets has uncovered not only opportunities for substantial financial returns but also avenues to secure a residence permit and, potentially, pathways to a second passport.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, a residence permit can open up a world of opportunities and experiences. The processes involved are becoming increasingly complex but, thankfully, there are still several viable residence permit options around the world.

Here are several of our top picks for residence permits that offer not just a place to stay but a gateway to thriving, promising economies:

1. Armenia

The Cascade Yerevan Armenia Residence Permit
Residence permit by account opening in Armenia

There’s no hiding the fact that we are big proponents of Armenia. We often sing the country’s praises and even include it as the number one country in the world for outsourcing

Armenia is primed for great things and we’ve been building a network in this location for the last ten years. When you look at the American population throughout the world, their hardworking and entrepreneurial culture is evident. 

When seeing the foreign exchange rate of the Dram, you will notice something curious. Historically, it has managed to keep pace with the United States dollar (USD); on average, the pricing differential was roughly only 1%. In 2022, general economic activity was strong, and the Dram appreciated by more than 20% against the USD. Over the past year, foreign direct investment and other investments have also increased. 

A person can potentially benefit from a 10.75% interest rate if they deposit their money in an Armenian savings account at a small bank like Evoca.

If you are interested in a residence permit, you can get it by investing around US$20,000 in securities (company shares as well as corporate and governmental bonds). It’s important to note that this sum is not specified by Armenian law but rather by the experience of local lawyers, so this price may vary. 

This allows you to hold a cash asset. Some are required to be held to maturity, while others have a secondary market and a higher interest rate. If the Dram performs as well in the next few years as it has, you’ll have a relatively stable return that you can convert into a residence permit. Typically, the permit is issued for one year initially and, upon renewal, it can be upgraded to a five-year and then a ten-year residence permit.

If you’re a US citizen, though, you might be in luck, as it’s not uncommon for Americans who submit a residence permit application to be able to get a five-year permit from the outset. After that, if you want to get second citizenship in Armenia, you can apply after only three years. 

You do need to pass an interview on the Armenian constitution but, though the interview is in Armenian, you can bring along an interpreter.

The government has considered lowering taxes and, in an effort to boost economic activity, adopted some positive tax reforms in 2019. Interestingly, Armenia is one of a few nations where you can actually become president after being naturalised as an Armenian citizen.  

2. Malaysia

Malaysia MM2H Residence Permit
Malaysia MM2H Residence Permits allows people to maintain residence in a highly developed Asian nation.

Kuala Lumpur is one of those hidden gems that you don’t hear much about. It gets overshadowed by other far more touristy areas on that side of the world, like Bangkok. But that’s good for the discerning traveller as the low-profile ensures the country stays off the beaten tourist track.

Nomad Capitalist’s founder, Andrew Henderson, has a home there, and it’s where he spends an extended period of his time as it allows him to remain well-connected with the rest of the world.

The great thing about this location is that obtaining Malaysian residence is pretty much open to anyone through the nation’s MM2H program, which doesn’t require applicants to negotiate too many complicated hurdles. However, do note that this is one of those cases where residence won’t lead to citizenship.

The only major requirements for getting a 10-year permit for residence are having RM1.1 million (approximately US$210,000) in the bank and a monthly income of RM40,000 (US$8,400) or more. 

The good news is that the Malaysian Ringgit has been unfairly beaten up in recent years. It fell in value by approximately 20% during that period, facing several ups and downs and tending to perform below the US dollar. 

An often-underappreciated fact about Malaysia is that it’s the most developed nation in Southeast Asia and is on track to match some European Union (EU) states by 2030. So, if you trust the member states of the mighty European Union, why wouldn’t you have faith in this younger and more agile rival?

Put plainly, the Malaysian currency is undervalued and banks will give you roughly 3-4% interest rates for the pleasure of holding a currency poised to bounce back.

3. Ecuador

Cuenca Ecuador Popular Retirement Location
If you or your family are nearing retirement status, Ecuador is a great option for residency.

Off the radar and nestled in the northern edge of the South American subcontinent, Ecuador is emerging as an expat haven.

It’s a great hub for anyone living in the Americas, as it’s relatively easy to return to the US or Canada. Plus, it hasn’t become as expensive as other nations in the region. Overall, it’s an exciting place to visit or even retire to. In fact, many retirement publications consistently list it as one of the best countries for retirement.

If you’re nearing retirement status, chances are you don’t want your savings to be in emerging market currencies. That makes sense in the medium-to-long term, but not if you need to use the cash now.

Fortunately, though Ecuador’s national currency is the US dollar. This means that if you’re European, you can get exposure to the USD and, if you are from the US, you may already have the amount required for an account without having to exchange currencies.

There are numerous ways to gain a residence permit through investment, such as purchasing real estate or stocks. However, if you intend to obtain residence through currency deposits, you will need to deposit US$45,000 in an account that will be locked for 730 days. On the plus side, that shouldn’t represent a significant problem, as banks typically give you an interest rate of up to 5.5%.

4. Honduras

Residence permits in Honduras
Residence permits in Honduras are great options for those seeking more access to Latin America.

Honduras residency works well for those looking to apply for a residence permit in a country without investing a lot or simply desiring a relatively straightforward application process.

Residency options in Honduras are a gateway to citizenship, which takes only one year for those from Central America, two years for those from Latin American nations and just three years for citizens from anywhere else. 

Investing US$50,000 by certified deposit will secure residency, which has to be completed in the Honduran Central Bank. Banks in this Central American nation will give you interest rates of around 3–5% and the Honduran Government insures deposits for up to HNL165,000 (approximately US$6,700).

The advantage of making a bank deposit as opposed to other investment options, such as starting a business, is that there are no extra complications, such as filling out extensive paperwork, including tax forms. Also, there is no need to hire employees or rent out premises. 

5. Thailand

Thailand, Bangkok
Any person who wants to experience the beauty of Southeast Asia will appreciate having access to Thailand.

Opening a Thai bank account is straightforward but does not offer the same relatively high-interest rates as some countries listed above. 

There are alternative paths to Thai residence, including the Elite program, but there are much more affordable options in this part of the world if you want to go down the investment route.  

If you are interested in Thailand as a residency option for its tax savings potential, keep in mind that Thailand has just changed the way it taxes foreign income and savings, although the specifics for retirees are still somewhat unclear. 

6. Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Costa Rica offers temporary residence permits which can later lead to a permanent one.

Costa Rica offers several routes to residency, with investments being one of the most direct methods. While obtaining residency through ‘rentista’ status (which entails earning at least US$2,500 per month in rental income), you can also gain residency by investing in a local bank. 

The primary requirement is for applicants to demonstrate they’ve invested at least US$60,000. The temporary residence permit is issued for two years, which can then be extended to a permanent visa. 

Get More with Your Residence Permit

Three Currency Plays for a Residence Permit

Many countries have investor residency programs for those willing to buy government bonds or deposit money in local banks. However, these programs are often in very well-developed countries that are likely to overcharge foreign nationals who require temporary residence permits.

They might make getting a second passport by investment nearly impossible, or they’re in such emerging and volatile markets, that giving them your money wouldn’t make much sense.

Overall, we prefer residence programs that are straightforward and can be completed without the applicant encountering overly troublesome documents or significant difficulties. Making a currency play to obtain a residence permit is just the cherry on top and a great way to dovetail a well-diversified offshore strategy.

As a Nomad Capitalist client, we can smooth your way to securing a valid permit for yourself. We can help you put together the documents you need to secure the residency status, advise you on issues like employment rules, health insurance and how your family members will be affected.

So, are you looking to obtain a second residence or second citizenship? Are you looking to lower your taxes or gain access to emerging markets? Whatever your goals are, we will incorporate them into a specially crafted action plan to help you go where you’re treated best.

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