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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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Andrew Henderson wrote the #1 best-selling book that redefines life as a diversified,
global citizen in the 21st century… and how you can join the movement.

Global Citizen

Who owns your citizenship: you or your government?

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I sent my US passport into the State Department yesterday so they can add more pages to it. I’ve been hitting it hard the last two years or so, and all those stamps, stickers, and visas ate away all the empty space in my passport.

I’ll be spending the entire second half of this year living in and visiting nine countries in Asia to report on opportunities in these areas, as well as nearly twenty countries in the first half of next year.

I need all the space I can get.

The procedure of adding pages to an existing passport used to be free. After all, with passports running $140 these days, you’d think they could hook you up with a few extra pages.

A while back, however, the government decided to tack an $82 fee onto the procedure to heckle you for daring to leave their country so often.

(It was at the same time they decided to charge $450 to renounce the citizenship you never chose. But that’s another story.)

Passports haven’t always been the world standard. Historically, they were used as far back as Biblical times to allow safe passage for those traveling on the orders of the king.

Eventually, governments figured out how they could use passports as an excuse to control their citizens, and the first modern passport was issued in the 1860s.

However, as European wealth grew along with the opportunity for rail travel, governments couldn’t figure out how to enforce passport law on all the new travelers, so they eased up. That is, until the League of Nations got them all on the same page.

Even then, many travelers considered them to be a “nasty dehumanization”. But when Big Governments put their heads together, that’s what you get.

For one country to issue you a passport feels reminiscent of the feudal lord-serf relationship of the Middle Ages. It allows one country to essentially claim ownership over you. When one country owns you, they can tell you where you can and can’t go.

Add that to the slippery slope of the eroding liberties that government brings and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. (That second passport is sounding better and better, isn’t it?)

So allow me to share with you some of the passages direct from the US passport application:

Your Social Security Number will be provided to Treasury, used in connection with debt collection and checked against lists of persons ineligible or potentially ineligible to receive a U.S. passport, among other authorized uses.

We’re just getting warmed up and already the government is telling you that they own you. Most people only have one citizenship, issued by whatever governing body happens to be in charge of the patch of dirt they were born on. And governments encourage you to keep it that way, discouraging their citizens from obtaining second citizenships.

How then, pray tell, would you travel outside your home country if it — at its sole discretion — determined that you were a “person ineligible to receive a US passport”? I guess you wouldn’t. So much for Freedom of Movement.

When your own country can force you to stay within its borders, you’re not free at all.

Perhaps that’s what Ron Paul was talking about when he said that border fences would be used to keep people in, not out.

The US government has refused to issue passports to multiple citizens, including a congressman who was suspected of traveling to sympathize with communists. Gasp! Communism was used as a scapegoat multiple times in the mid-twentieth century, long before governments had terrorism to use as an excuse. Oh, how times change.

Today, even owing a small balance to the IRS can get your passport application denied. Funny how the IRS can track down innocent expats for their tax dollars, but can’t trust some guy who underpaid by a few bucks to leave the country.

Furthermore, I have not been convicted for a federal or state drug offense or convicted for “sex tourism”

Great to see that War on Drugs going strong. For some reason, I thought that once one paid his “debt to society” he was free again.

The information solicited on this form may be made available as a routine use to other government agencies and private contractors to assist the U.S. Department of State in adjudicating passport applications and requests for related services, and for law enforcement, fraud prevention, border security, counterterrorism, litigation activities, and administrative purposes. […] The information may also be provided to […] private persons and organizations to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise address potential violations of law […]. The information may be made available to the Department of Homeland Security […].

I can’t say I’m surprised, but let me get this straight. I’m going to send my personal information to a government that lies about its use of information so they can share it with private people and businesses, the cops, border security personnel who have nothing to do with legal citizens and who aren’t doing much to secure the border anyway, and other vague entities?

Oh, and Janet Napolitano. No reason to be worried about this group of gems.

No reason at all.

After all, Janet needs to make sure I’m not helping anyone smuggle weapons in from Mexico or anything like that. Oh wait, that’s her agency.

Your social security numbers will be provided to the U.S. Department of Treasury and failure to provide it may subject you to a penalty, as described in the Federal Tax Law provision. It also may be used for identification verification for passport adjudication and in connection with debt collection, among other purposes as authorized and generally described in this section. Providing your social security number and other information requested on this form otherwise is voluntary, but failure to provide the information requested on this form may result in processing delays or the denial of your U.S. passport application.

Providing your Social Security number is voluntary. But it’s mandatory. And it will be used to track down any dime you owe to the government, known or unknown.

Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 USC 6039E) requires you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN), if you have one, when you apply for a U.S. passport or renewal of a U.S. passport. […] If you fail to provide the information, you are subject to a $500 penalty enforced by the IRS.

OK, so now it’s really mandatory.

Now that I’ve been reminded that I’m just a serf under the feudal lord called the United States, I’ll be waiting for my government mailman to deliver my passport back to me so I can leave to explore greener pastures.

Did you really expect them to send it UPS?


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