They want to have a Plan B, including a place to go should things go badly in their home country. Or they want a Plan A and have a nice place to go to as they’re developing their Trifecta Strategy, build a new business, or growing their current one.
There are many reasons people choose to find a second, third, or even fourth place to reside and become a citizen.
Whatever your reasons, I highly encourage you to go beyond a second residence and get a second passport. The residence is temporary and, even with a permanent residence, you are not a citizen. There may be benefits to not being a citizen in some countries (think mandatory military service in Singapore). But, if a country decides to change its policies or not renew your visa, then there’s not much you can do as just a resident.
Only as a citizen do you have the right to a guaranteed place to live.
There is also a difference between having citizenship and having a passport. Being a citizen of a country means you qualify to get a passport from that country, but it does not mean you have one.
For example, for Christmas one year, I asked my sister to join me in Mexico for the holidays. She lives in the US and has access to one of the most powerful passports in the world. Except she had zero travel privileges because she hadn’t gone through the process to get a passport.
So yes, you may have acquired second citizenship somewhere, but be sure to obtain and keep your passport up to date so that you have the travel privileges that go with that country’s passport.
Now that we have cleared up that confusion between residencies, citizenships, and passports, one question remains: Where can you get the easiest citizenships and passports?
In this article, we will first give a quick look at the different ways you can obtain citizenship, take a moment to define exactly what we mean by “easiest citizenship”, and then look at the easiest way to get a second passport with each different method in four separate regions of the world: Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and the South Pacific, and Latin America.
We’ll sum things up with a few frequently asked questions and give you plenty of resources along the way to aid your search for the perfect second passport for your unique needs and desires.
How to Get Citizenship
There are 5 ways to get citizenship:
- Naturalization – the most common method is to establish residency in a country, spend time there for a certain number of years, pay your dues, and become a citizen.
- Citizenship by Descent – you may qualify for a second passport through your ancestry.
- Economic Citizenship – you can obtain citizenship through a monetary investment or donation to certain countries.
- Exceptional Citizenship – through exceptional circumstances as determined by a country’s leader. (As this is something individually and circumstantially determined, we will not be discussing this method in this article.)
- Familial Ties – you can often qualify for citizenship through a legitimate marriage to a partner that is a citizen of the country or through other family connections such as giving birth to a child who obtains citizenship by birth.
How to Define the Easiest Citizenships
Now, let’s take a minute and talk about what we mean by easy. This is a term that will be different for each person. For some, easy means as fast as possible. For others, it may mean the least expensive. And yet for others, it may be the country with the lowest physical presence requirements. It all depends on what you’re looking for and where you feel like you’re treated best.
As you consider getting easy second citizenship and passport, you should always keep your overall strategy in mind. Ask yourself what your goals are in moving to a new country and what is most important to you. Here are some general questions to consider when deciding what easy means for you:
- What are the requirements to qualify for citizenship and who can be approved?
- How many years does it take to get citizenship?
- What are the in-country physical presence requirements?
- What is the amount of investment required?
- Where do you feel culturally comfortable?
- What are the tax implications of becoming a citizen?
- Will I need or want to purchase real estate?
- Can I qualify for citizenship through descent?
- How much paperwork and bureaucracy is involved?
- Is the program available to many people?
- How efficient is the country at processing paperwork?
If speed is your top requirement and money, location, or amount of paperwork are low priorities, then you should check out our article on the fastest countries to become a citizen.
If you’re simply looking for a no-tax country, check out our Ultimate Guides for citizenship in Monaco, St. Kitts and Nevis, Vanuatu, and the Cayman Islands.
In this article, we’ll discuss several countries in which it is “easy” to get citizenship and a passport. We’ll do this by offering one country for each type of citizenship in several regions around the world, as well as some honorable mentions you might find interesting. As you read through these countries be sure to consider your definition of easy so that you can find what fits best for you.
The majority of people looking for a second passport want one in Europe. Europe typically has great passports with good travel options in stable countries with a high quality of life. As European citizenship is in high demand, we have articles on How to Become a European Citizen and the Easiest and Cheapest Second Residencies in the EU. Highlighted below are some of the easiest passports to get in Europe through the different routes to citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH NATURALIZATION: ARMENIA
I talk a lot about Armenia. Not only does it have a short timeframe to qualify for citizenship but it is a country that’s going places. If you’re interested in opportunities to hire, invest, and bank in a fantastic emerging market, look to Armenia.
While Armenia does have great citizenship by descent program, if you’re out of luck in the ancestry arena, Armenia also allows you to become a naturalized citizen in about three years. For naturalization, this is one of the fastest countries to become a citizen.
You can start by getting a residence permit, which usually involves making some kind of investment in the country. You can invest around $20,000 in securities in company shares as well as in corporate and governmental bonds (for more specific information on residence through banking in Armenia, look at our article on How to Get Residence by Opening a Bank Account).
There are also many excellent options for investing in real estate in Armenia. And yet another option for establishing residency is by attending an Armenian university.
After getting a residence permit, as long as you meet the in-country requirements you can apply for citizenship in just three short years. You will need to pass a test on the Armenian constitution in Armenian, but you can take a translator with you to the test.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT: LATVIA
Due to its history, Latvia has some interesting options for citizenship by descent. The first is if you were exiled between June 17, 1940, and May 4, 1990, due to foreign occupation. It also applies to the children of an exile born before October 1, 2014. If you fit in this category you are eligible for citizenship and can maintain dual citizenship in another country. The process usually takes about four months if all your documents and fees are in order.
The second option is for someone who was born outside of Latvia, has reached the age of 15, and has one parent who was a Latvian citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth. In this situation, dual citizenship is only allowed for countries in the EU, EFTA, NATO, or if you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil, or New Zealand. For children under 25, dual citizenship is granted with any other country, but at age 25, those not of a country listed above will have to make a choice of which to keep.
For this type of citizenship, the application can be processed in as little as one month as long as all the paperwork, documentation, and fees are in order.
The third option is if you are ethnically Latvian or Liv, but was born outside of Latvia. For this type of application, you must have documentation showing
- Your ancestor’s place of residence in Latvia between 1881 and June 17, 1940,
- Your relationship to this ancestor,
- Your ethnic background or that your parents or grandparents are/were Latvian, and
- That you can pass a language exam in Latvian.
The processing time for this type of citizenship by descent is longer. If all your paperwork, documentation, and fees are in order, the fastest that citizenship will be granted is after one year.
If you qualify for one of these categories, Latvia is great second citizenship. It’s one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe, it has been rising as an offshore banking hotspot, and has some fantastic real estate investment opportunities.
If you aren’t lucky enough to claim Latvian heritage, there are other great options for getting citizenship there. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Latvia’s Golden Visa or our article on Latvian Residency and Citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR ECONOMIC CITIZENSHIP: PORTUGAL
Technically, Portugal does not offer citizenship by investment. What it offers is residence by investment and a path toward citizenship by naturalization. While other European countries do offer true economic citizenship programs, we almost always recommend Portugal’s residence program over these more expensive and less profitable programs.
Portugal offers one of the best Golden Visa Programs in the world. And after five years as a resident with minimal physical presence requirements, you can apply for citizenship in a stable country in the European Union with a Tier A passport, as well as a high standard of living in terms of work, healthcare, climate, infrastructure, stability, safety, and education. If you’re a high-net-worth individual, Portugal offers an open-door invitation.
The program starts by offering a Portuguese residence permit in exchange for a five-year investment in the country. Your investment can be in real estate, as an entrepreneur, or in capital contributions. Once you qualify, you will need to renew your permit after one and three years.
After five years of residence, you can apply for citizenship. This does not mean you’ll get it immediately. There’s no specific timeline for when you will receive your Portuguese passport. The best we can say is that citizenship will come several years down the road if you continue to meet the qualifications.
While that may sound like a huge drawback, your Portuguese residence permit will still grant you visa-free travel privileges within the Schengen Area and many other countries around the world. You’ll also have the right to live and work in any of the EU/EEA countries. You’re only required to be in Portugal seven days a year to maintain your permit.
Another benefit of starting with the residence permit is the possibility of establishing non-habitual residence and tapping into the incredible tax savings this program offers.
For more specifics on Portugal’s Golden Visa program, check out our Ultimate Guide.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH FAMILIAL TIES: IRELAND
Ireland is one of my favorite countries in the world. They’ve made their citizenship programs very open. Ireland has a population of 4.5 million, but almost 15 million people hold Irish passports, thanks in large part to its streamlined citizenship by descent program.
You can also gain citizenship through other familial ties. Those married to or in a registered civil relationship (Ireland now recognizes gay marriage) with an Irish citizen can apply for an Irish passport after one year of “reckonable residence.” You must have been married to or in a civil union with your partner for at least three years.
That does mean you’ll have to pay Ireland’s high-income taxes for at least one year, but corporate taxes are quite low. You’ll also need to spend a good amount of time in Ireland, but once you have an Irish passport, you’ll be able to live anywhere in Europe and travel almost anywhere on earth.
In terms of ease, Ireland has really simplified the process and made its policies quite open. There are several other great options for citizenship through marriage in Europe, but we’ve named Ireland as the easiest citizenship because you don’t have to be married for as long (as in Switzerland or Portugal) or declare the country your home country (like in Serbia), plus the Irish passport doesn’t come with all the bureaucracy of the Spanish government that can often lead to prolonged immigration timelines.
Best of all, if you’re not married to an Irish citizen but you can claim parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents that were Irish citizens, you can gain citizenship through Ireland’s fantastic Citizenship by Descent program. We have helped many people with this passport and have several connections that make the process quite simple. Ireland also offers a Golden Visa option for citizenship as well.
This is an interesting region of the world that may not offer citizenship options for all of our citizenship categories in a typical manner. Most countries are tiny islands with small populations so the majority of the world won’t be able to claim citizenship by descent. The main path to citizenship in these islands is through investment. They offer a tax haven with beautiful beaches and you provide the funds to support that.
So, while most of these countries offer citizenship by investment programs, we have tried to fit them into our different categories by what their investment is best for. If your definition of easy is a fast track to citizenship, then look no further than the Caribbean.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH NATURALIZATION: DOMINICA
Dominica is one of the fastest passports you can get in the Caribbean. The process can take as little as two months, but the average is around three. If you’re looking for the quickest way to get a second citizenship, go with Dominica. Its program has been around since 1993 and is part of its constitution. More than half of their country’s revenue comes through the foreign investment so they’re always looking to develop good innovative programs for investors.
Dominica is a great option if you’re looking for citizenship insurance or a means to quickly renounce your US citizenship. They even have options to waive the residence requirement so you can get a passport without stepping foot in the country.
If you want to go through the naturalization process without any investment, you can do so by residing on the island for seven years. If you’re looking for a faster process with little to no residence requirement, Dominica offers investments in real estate, as a donation, or more recently they’ve started to offer investment in some businesses.
For real estate, you’ll need to purchase a property of at least $200,000 in value and pay the associated government fees. There is more involved in the process so it generally takes a little longer, but you can resell the property after three years so you may be able to recoup some of your investment.
The most straightforward option is to make a donation. For a single person, the price tag starts at $100,000 and increases as you add a spouse or children, but it doesn’t get more straightforward than that. Make your donation, and get your passport.
The other option – which is a true residence by investment versus citizenship by investment – is to invest at least $50,000 in an approved government business or $100,000 in a business that you have more control over. You must also put $100,000 in a bank when you first arrive in-country, but you are able to use those funds. For this option, you must spend 90 days in the country over two years before qualifying for naturalization. This is a great option if you don’t want to just make a donation and if you’re an entrepreneur looking for somewhere to invest in a company.
Dominica offers a decent passport with visa-free travel to 139 countries including the EU, Russia, and most Latin American and Southeast Asian countries. The country itself is arguably the most beautiful island and one of the happiest places in the world with its great island lifestyle and safe, friendly atmosphere. For all the details, check out our Ultimate Guide for Dominican Citizenship or our video on the new residence program.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT: GRENADA
You may not be able to claim citizenship by descent on the tiny island of Grenada, but this is the easiest passport in the Caribbean to pass down to your children and grandchildren. For other Caribbean countries, if you get your citizenship through citizenship by investment (CBI), it doesn’t pass to your children without fees or without adding them as part-owners of your investment. For Grenada, however, once you get citizenship, it will pass down.
Grenada’s CBI program is fairly straightforward and offers a great passport with visa-free travel to more than 135 countries. It’s also the only program that offers visa-free travel to both China and Russia. In addition, Grenada’s passport gives you access to the US E-2 investor visa.
You can obtain the passport by either a donation or through the purchase of a pre-approved property. The donation for a single person is set at $150,000 and for a family of four, $200,000, with additional processing and application fees. Grenada’s definition of who classifies as family members is fairly liberal and can mean a spouse or children, but also extends to dependent parents over the age of 55 and even unmarried siblings over the age of 18.
If you decide to go through the real estate option, it will be more expensive but does have the possibility to recoup some of your investment after holding the property for at least five years. For a single investor, your property value must be at least $350,000, but if you’re investing with a partner, your minimum investment drops to $220,000 with a total investment of $440,000. There are also additional fees that run around $58,000 or more depending on how many people you’re adding to the application.
For more information on this great passport opportunity with benefits to pass down citizenship to your posterity, check out our Ultimate Guide for Citizenship in Grenada.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR ECONOMIC CITIZENSHIP: ST. LUCIA
St. Lucia offers a highly reputable CBI program with several investment routes. This program requires one of the lowest values for investment if you’re a sole applicant and offers a respectable, yet affordable passport with visa-free access to 145 countries.
There are four options for investment in St. Lucian citizenship. The first is to simply make a one-time donation of $100,000 (or more if you want to add a spouse or children) to St. Lucia’s government development fund.
The real estate option is more expensive but comes with the opportunity to recoup some of the investment after five years of holding the property. For a single investor, you must invest $300,000 in pre-approved real estate, plus fees. Naturally, the price increases as you add a spouse and children.
In light of COVID-19, the St. Lucian government has introduced sweeping changes to its government bonds investment option that will be in effect until December 31, 2021. This is the perfect opportunity for bond investors. Applicants can qualify for St. Lucia citizenship by investing $250,000 in the COVID Relief Bond with a five-year hold period.
The last CBI option is to invest in a local business. You must invest a minimum of $3.5 million in a pre-approved enterprise project. This is by far the most complex option and comes with some hefty fees, but if you are an entrepreneur looking to invest in a business, this could be a great option.
For more details on each option and the step-by-step process of how to make it happen, check out our Ultimate Guide to St. Lucian Citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH FAMILIAL TIES: ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Now, this is not your typical marriage or birth type of citizenship, but this is the easiest passport for a family. Antigua and Barbuda has become the cheapest option to get a Caribbean passport for a family of up to four members and made our list of Discounted Caribbean passports not to miss out on.
Where most countries increase the required investment amount per person that you add to the application, in Antigua and Barbuda, you can claim a spouse and up to two kids under the same investment price of $100,000 — plus fees which run about $30,000 a person.
They even have an option to include adult-dependent children aged 18-26 that are full-time students. If you contribute $150,000 to the University of the West Indies, you can add up to six applicants (+$15,000 for each additional family member) and one member of the family will receive a one-year scholarship to the university. All of this is not very common in the CBI world (at all) and gives Antigua and Barbuda a clear advantage.
You can make your investment in real estate, as a donation, or in business, and receive your citizenship in three to four months. It’s a quick, simple, and straightforward program. You will be required to spend at least five days a year in the country to renew your passport, but the islands’ beauty and luxurious living make that anything but painful.
On top of that, the Antiguan passport is one of the most powerful in the Caribbean, allowing you to access 150 countries visa-free. Check out our Ultimate Guide for all the details on this great family option.
Asia and The South Pacific
Asia, as a whole, remains a deeply nationalistic continent where your cultural background still holds much sway on whether you have any chance of ever gaining second citizenship there. However, there are a few countries that are starting to open up. There are several second residence opportunities, but not all residence programs lead to citizenship.
If you’re interested in citizenship in Asia, you can start by checking out our article on How to Get Second Citizenship in Asia for some specific information as well as to learn the benefits and drawbacks of doing so. It may also be good to consider the Most Livable Cities in Southeast Asia to get a list of some of the best places to go.
For this article, we’ve expanded this section to include the Middle East within Asia along with the South Pacific where you’ll also find some great options for second citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH NATURALIZATION: TAIWAN
An option for a second passport you may not have considered is Taiwan. In a region of the world with few countries that actually extend citizenship to foreigners, Taiwan offers Taiwanese citizenship after five years of consecutive legal residency. An even faster option is if you’re a resident of Hong Kong or Macau – you can obtain Taiwanese citizenship in just 18 months of being a resident of Taiwan.
This isn’t a passport you can get without spending much time in the country. You’ll need to live there at least half the year and become a tax resident for at least five years. You’ll also need to show that you have no criminal background, pass an exam of Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese law, and prove that you’re able to support yourself financially.
They do allow dual citizenship, but you’ll basically need to assimilate into their country and culture to be eligible for the passport.
There are some major perks to doing so. Taiwan has the 32nd best passport in the world and you would be able to visit 145+ countries visa-free. They also have the best healthcare system in the world (as ranked by the Health Care Index 2019). Taiwan is also one of the safest and cheapest countries in which to live.
Taiwan’s unstable relationship with China may be a big concern, but it’s also important to realize that they have had 70 years with no conflict. In Taiwan, you would also have access to a robust economy ranked among the top in the world, a highly educated workforce, and great options for foreign direct investment and IT manufacturing and research and development. Taiwan can also be your gateway to other Asian markets.
For more details and information, check out our Ultimate Guide to Taiwanese Citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT: NEW ZEALAND
For this region, we have confirmed that you can get citizenship by descent in South Korea, Indonesia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and India. But among these, New Zealand citizenship by descent is probably the quickest and least expensive path to citizenship and a passport.
Its program is fairly streamlined and straightforward. If you were born outside of New Zealand, but one of your parents was a citizen by birth, you may be entitled to citizenship.
To apply for citizenship by descent, you’ll need to download the application form online and send it in with the requested original documents and fees. Fees depend on which office you send your application to and whether or not you want to receive a passport at the same time as citizenship. It may be worth weighing your options or having someone help you with the application process to decrease your fees.
You can also submit your application in person to one of the Department of Internal Affairs offices in New Zealand, Sydney, or London.
It takes 30 working days to process your application, but if you need your passport urgently, you can pay an additional fee to expedite the process to 10 days.
A passport from New Zealand ranks as the seventh strongest in the world with access to 182 countries. Citizenship also grants you access to a friendly, diverse country, with excellent weather and cuisine as well as healthcare and public education.
Of the six major English-speaking countries (the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand) New Zealand easily leads the pack as the most economically free, though becoming a citizen will require that you pay the significant income and corporate taxes.
For all the details and other options for citizenship in New Zealand, check out our Ultimate Guide.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR ECONOMIC CITIZENSHIP: VANUATU
Traditionally known as a remote place to hide money, Vanuatu has more recently tried to make its banking and foreign investment programs more legitimate and respectable. It is still a remote tax haven — the Bahamas of the Pacific, so to speak — with no income tax, inheritance tax, or capital gains tax, but with a bit more transparency and respectability on the international scene.
Vanuatu offers the only CBI program in the Pacific region. Over 35% of government revenue is raised from the multiple citizenship programs geared at foreigners. CBI has actually become the government’s biggest source of income. While this doesn’t create a very diverse economy, it does mean that Vanuatu’s programs are around to stay and that it will continue to make investment attractive to foreigners.
While there are a few investment programs available, many are complicated and hard to understand. The best option is to donate a non-refundable lump sum to the local government fund. Though it’s not the lowest, Vanuatu’s donation is still relatively low: $130,000 for a single person, $150,000 for a married couple, and $180,000 for a family of four. You’ll also pay about $5,400 in fees (plus more for each person added to the application) and must prove that you have no less than $250,000 available in banking assets and at least $500,000 in net assets.
Vanuatu has made the process extremely speedy, probably the fastest in the entire CBI industry, at just eight weeks to obtain a passport. They don’t require the total investment sum up-front. All you have to pay is the $5,000 fee to get the application process going and get approval from the government. Then, after your application is accepted, the total amount will be due and your passport will become available.
With a passport from Vanuatu, you’ll have visa-free access to 125+ countries, It’s also part of the British Commonwealth, which means Vanuatu’s citizens get extra rights in the UK due to historical ties. Vanuatu citizenship is hereditary so you can pass it on to your children.
Other benefits that Vanuatu offers are that English is one of its official languages, it’s the happiest country on earth, it has great offshore banking options, extremely clean air, water, and food — some of the hottest commodities of the future — and it is friendly and open to international business.
For all the details on this fast and easy process, check out our Ultimate Guide for CBI in Vanuatu or if you’re interested in other citizenship options in Vanuatu, check our article on How to Obtain Residence and Citizenship in Vanuatu.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGHFAMILIAL TIES: ISRAEL
If you happen to be married to a Jewish man or woman, no matter where you’re from, you are in luck in terms of getting a second passport from Israel. Israel’s Law of Return is somewhat complicated but allows Jews and their descendants to obtain permanent residence in Israel rather easily and quickly.
A “Jew” is defined as anyone whose mother or grandmother is a Jew, or has converted to Judaism. In the 1970s, the Israeli government extended the Law of Return rules to allow the spouse, children, and grandchildren of a Jew to also qualify. It is possible to use the Law of Return, even if you are not Jewish, by falling into one of these categories.
Upon your arrival in Israel, there is a 90 day waiting period before you can be awarded citizenship. However, citizenship is automatically granted unless you specifically ask the government not to grant you Israeli citizenship.
It’s important to know that while citizenship can be conferred within a few months, you will not receive a full passport until a year after that. The goal of the Law of Return is for Jews to come and remain in Israel. You must show that you have established ties in Israel in order to qualify and maintain your passport.
An Israeli passport does restrict you from traveling to most of the Middle East, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and living in Israel comes with a high tax burden. However, it is an above average travel document for the right person.
For all the details and pros and cons about this option or to learn about Israel’s option for Citizenship by Descent, check out our article on How to Get Citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return.
Latin America is mostly made up of countries of immigrants. Their colonial history has led to a typically more open border policy than other regions — like the Asian continent. Their citizenship programs are lower in cost and easy to qualify for.
If you’re from the US, it’s also a place that is more culturally similar and has a clear American influence in many cities. You won’t have quite as much culture shock going to a country in Latin America from the US.
However, Latin America is notorious for having a lot of bureaucracy, taking a lot of time and work to process things, and having a dragged-out process that requires more time on the ground, and more paperwork and documents to bring. So, while they are open to foreigners, the process might be more tedious and time-intensive.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH NATURALIZATION: ECUADOR
The beautiful and quiet country of Ecuador has shown a lot of potential as a great option for second citizenship. It’s emerging as an expat haven and is one of the cheapest and safest countries to live in with a very low cost of living. It is even consistently ranked as one of the best countries for retirement.
While Peru has a shorter time frame for becoming a citizen (two years), in terms of being an easy process, Ecuador wins out on the ease of gaining residence in Latin America front and still only requires three years’ residence before applying for citizenship. Ecuador also beats out Panama because it has a better track record of actually granting citizenship whereas Panama has a super easy residence program but not a great track record when it comes to granting citizenship to those who qualify.
There are several options for gaining residency in Ecuador. First is a great option by investing around $40,000 into an Ecuadorian bank (see our article on getting residence through opening a bank account). There is also the option to invest a similar amount into a company (or business that you start yourself), or into qualifying real estate or land.
Once you have made your investment, you may then apply for a two-year temporary residence permit. After the two years with a temporary permit, you can apply for a permanent permit and after one year, you can apply for citizenship.
You don’t need to be physically present to maintain your residence permit, but if your goal is citizenship, then there is a hefty physical presence requirement of at least half the year. Unlike the Caribbean programs, in Ecuador, you must commit time to get the passport.
Ecuador is a good alternative passport for Westerners thanks to its ties with Russia. Unlike the US and other western countries, with an Ecuadorian passport, you can travel visa-free to Russia, as well as China, South Africa, and Israel – all typically difficult countries to access. It’s a great passport to use in your passport portfolio to cover countries many Western passports don’t have.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT: MEXICO
Mexico is a country that’s gotten a lot of bad press, but is actually a large country with many good options for living, doing business, and investment. It has a fantastic passport that ranks as the 26th most powerful passport in the world, easily making it the most underrated passport out there. Mexico City is my favorite Latin American city to visit. I even named it the most livable city in Latin America in my Nomad Guide.
It’s also quite easy to get citizenship by descent there. If you have a Mexican parent, you can get citizenship in as little as six months for less than $100.
But you don’t even need to have Mexican heritage to be fast-tracked to citizenship by descent, any Latin American descent will do. You start the process by getting residency. If you can show proof of blood relatives in Mexico or other Latin American countries, then you can qualify right off for a permanent residence permit. Then, after two years, you can apply for citizenship.
You don’t have to spend much time in-country initially, which can be a nice way to transition from your current country. This gives you time to find a great real estate location that fits your style and then lock something in. Overall, it’s a fairly straightforward process. For more detailed information you can look at our article on Mexican residency and citizenship.
EASIEST PASSPORT FOR ECONOMIC CITIZENSHIP: COLOMBIA
While both Belize and Peru have offered citizenship by investment programs in the past, currently, no Latin American country offers a true economic citizenship program. However, Colombia has a residence by investment program that is well worth your consideration.
Colombia is a beautiful, underrated South American country. It does have an unsavory reputation because of its drug-fuelled past, but it has since rehabilitated itself, which is why I like this market. I write a lot about Colombia and have personally used it as part of my Trifecta Strategy. Bogota is a great hotspot for startup companies and has many good real estate options. Medellin is also a great place for investing. It’s one of the best emerging markets with a lot of potential.
To start the process towards citizenship, you must first obtain permanent residency. There are two main options: First, by an investment of approximately $170,000 in Colombian real estate or as contributions to a Colombian company. Then, after five years as a permanent resident, you and your family may apply for citizenship.
If you’re an entrepreneur, the second option is to invest about $26,000 to set up a company that gets you a business visa. This will lead to a permanent visa, and in five years, a passport. You must spend substantial time in the country for this visa and it requires a bit more effort on your part, but it’s a lower investment with greater growth potential.
You are not required to live in Colombia to maintain your second residency or work toward your second passport, but if you do choose to live there, it’s possible to do so for as little as $1,500 per month. Local food is cheap and plentiful, and transportation is affordable.
Colombia allows dual citizenship, so you do not need to renounce your current citizenship to become a Colombian citizen. An added benefit is that children you give birth to while in Colombia will obtain Colombia citizenship at birth as well. Being a parent of a Colombian citizen could shorten your own path to citizenship to just two years.
The country’s economy is one of the freest and most open in the region. There are some tax issues to plan around such as Colombia’s corporate tax rate being 31%. But luckily, personal income tax only needs to be paid after five years of actually having lived in the country and if you’re living and working in different places you can avoid many of the taxation issues.
For more details, check out our article on Residency and Citizenship in Colombia.
EASIEST PASSPORT THROUGH FAMILIAL TIES: BRAZIL
Hands down, Brazil wins out as the easiest place to get citizenship through family ties. If you have immediate family ties to a Brazilian citizen, that entitles you to Brazilian citizenship within one year. That means citizenship by marriage is possible, as well as by giving birth or adopting a child. The options don’t stop there. Brazil also offers a fast-track option for parents to obtain Brazilian citizenship without having to navigate Brazil’s tedious investment immigration program.
So, let’s get to some of the details.
Out of all of the countries that offer citizenship by birth, Brazil is the best place to give birth thanks to its advanced medical facilities and valuable passport. Brazil is an ideal country for medical tourism due to the country’s low-cost, high-quality health care. It also has what I call an A- level passport — great travel options (including Russia) without the hassle that can come with most western passports.
In preparing to have your child’s birth in Brazil, you will first need to arrange for a visa — unless you’re from the EU which grants visa-free travel to Brazil. Because you will be staying in Brazil for at least two to three months, you will need to take the time to find suitable long-term housing. You will also need to select a hospital.
After those things are in order, the next step is to give birth and make sure to get a birth certificate. When you, your partner, and your newborn leave the hospital, the hospital will provide you with a document that confirms that your child was born in Brazil. You can then take that document to a government office to get your child’s birth certificate in Portuguese.
Once you have a birth certificate, you can use it to get your child a Brazilian passport.
If you and your spouse are looking to get Brazilian citizenship as well, Brazil offers a fast-track naturalization option for parents. It does require you to live in the country for the majority of the year, pay taxes, and learn Portuguese — and, of course, contend with Brazilian bureaucracy. But the whole process can be done in just one year.
For all the details, check out our article on giving your child Brazilian citizenship by birth.
The last option is through marriage. Those who have a Brazilian spouse of at least one year qualify to apply for a second citizenship. After just one year of uninterrupted residence in the country, your citizenship can be granted.
As in many other countries in the world, it is necessary to work with someone who knows the minuscule details, as well as the Portuguese language, as all paperwork will need to be done in Portuguese. Brazil is notorious for its bureaucracy. It can prove to be very important to hire the right people to do the paperwork and documentation correctly.
For more details, check out our article on how to get citizenship through marriage in Brazil.
If you’ve made it this far through this article, you’ve probably become quite an expert on which countries offer certain types of citizenship and the requirements that go with the programs. However, you may have a few more questions, which we’ll try to address here. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have more questions that aren’t listed here, please feel free to ask in the comments or reach out to us with your specific concerns.
What is the easiest way to get a passport?
This depends on your definition of easy (see section above), but often the citizenship by descent or citizenship by birth or marriage are the most straightforward and less expensive. I usually tell people there are three parts of getting a second passport: speed, cost, and benefits (great travel options, no or low taxes, high quality of life, etc). You can’t have all three, but some places get you two. You might have a fast-track option with lots of good benefits, but it will cost you. Or you might find a low cost option with the benefits you’re seeking, but it will take you several years to get it. So decide what’s most important to you and find the programs that match those needs.
I do have an article about How to Choose the Best Second Passport if you need more help in deciding what you’re looking for.
Which countries offer the fastest passports?
The Caribbean usually takes the cake in this area. Fast does come with a higher price tag though. If you’re just looking for a quick out of your home country and don’t mind the cost, look to the Caribbean.
For more specific options, check out our article on the Fastest Countries to Become a Citizen.
Can I have more than one (or more) passport?
The unhelpful answer is: It depends on the country. Some countries grant dual citizenship, while others only allow for one. For a list of countries that do and do not allow for dual citizenship, check out our article for 2021. It also might be helpful to look into How to Get Dual Citizenship and How Many Passports Can/Should You Have? to get an idea of what’s possible.
What are the cheapest countries to get a passport?
This is more of a complicated question than you would think. You might be looking for something inexpensive, but you should also consider what you’re being offered. The Comoros Islands offers the cheapest way to get a second passport at $45,000, but there are a few drawbacks to consider.
When looking to find a second passport, I recommend taking a holistic approach to decide what your goals are and what countries align with those goals. If cost is your only criteria, you might end up with a passport that doesn’t get you what you want.
You also need to consider the length of the investment, what it takes to renew your passport, and the requirements that come with being a citizen (think taxes and military service). A cheap investment that you have to renew each year or that requires you to pay 50% taxes on your worldwide income doesn’t end up being that cheap.
So while cost is a significant consideration, just make sure it’s not your only one and that you’re looking at the long-term investment. For a list of cheap programs, check out our article on the Cheapest Places to Buy Citizenship. Or consider other cheap options such as citizenship by descent, by marriage, or by naturalization.
Why would I need more than one passport?
This question is best answered by looking into Citizenship Insurance and why it’s important to develop your Passport Portfolio.
Can anyone get a second passport and citizenship?
Again, this will depend on the country you’re from and the country you’re looking to get a second passport from. Programs like citizenship by descent and by marriage will depend on your heritage and that of your spouse. Citizenship by investment programs usually cater to high net worth individuals that can bring a lot of money to a country. And citizenship by naturalization can usually apply to those willing to spend time living in a place for years.
There are regions that are more open to offering citizenship to foreigners. Asia, for example, is more guarded and closed to the idea. Many of these countries will offer residence, but citizenship is off the table no matter how long you live there. Then there are certain countries – like Panama – where you can get residency, but it will not lead to citizenship, even though on paper it says you can. Bureaucracy and loopholes will keep you out, even if you’ve met all the requirements.
What is the country with the cheapest citizenship by investment program?
Citizenship by Investment programs usually come with a faster processing timeline. For many, this is THE important factor in finding a second passport. The Caribbean islands of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis all come with a low $100,000 CBI price tag while providing a stable and good investment. Take a look at our article on Discounted Caribbean Passports for more information on the details. We also have a list of The Cheapest Place to Buy Citizenship.
There is a lot to consider when looking into getting second or even multiple passports. While we say “easy,” it may not mean a simple process, but just simpler than other options. It also will depend on what you’re looking for as you develop your holistic plan.
We’ve provided some of the easiest passports for each region in different categories that might fit your strategy, but be sure to not stop here as there may be more options that fit your needs best. Each country offers unique options and each passport provides different benefits. So find what countries work best in developing your passport portfolio.
The main thing is to start now to create a diverse plan that covers your bases and protects you and your assets. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Prepare yourself with a plan that is exactly tailored to your needs to go where you’re treated best.
Get in touch with us today and let our team help you develop a plan that fits you.