In recent years, it has become fashionable to own more than one passport. More and more people are jumping onto the growing trend — British citizens are seeking Irish passports, Filipinos are seeking Cyprus passports and Middle Eastern citizens are seeking Caribbean passports.
There are many benefits to owning a second passport. They lend the owner various travel, residency and professional perks that allow for easier mobility across the world. It’s also a symbol of status and prestige. But not everyone can afford it.
Most people who are able to obtain second passports are elite travellers who have the wealth to purchase them. They don’t bother standing in line at immigration counters, but instead enrol in citizenship by investment programs, or CIPs. Such programs offer individuals who invest in a country’s economy easier access to more powerful passports. Over 5,000 people acquire citizenship to other countries via CIPs every year.
The entire concept originated in St. Kitts and Nevis, which introduced the very first CIP in 1984. Over the years, several other Caribbean nations began to offer their own CIPs, with as many as 15 actively marketing them today. Canada, the US and the UK also offer their own versions of CIPs, and many other nations have started to develop an interest in adopting their own, including Montenegro, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
Currently, one of the best CIPs is that of the tropical island country of Dominica, mainly because it is the least expensive among the others. But it does comes with several other useful perks:
- You can be a dual citizen with no residency requirements
- A lifetime citizenship that can be passed on to family members of eligible age
- Visa-free travel to more than 120 countries
- No tax regulations on foreign-based income, wealth, capital earnings, etc.
- One of the shortest application clearance periods in the world
- Freedom to start a business in other British Commonwealth countries
- Residence permits to places such as the U.K., Switzerland, Monaco, Bahamas, Bermuda, and other Caribbean nations
Middle Eastern nationals in particular are vying for dual citizenship with Dominica as a way to insure a safer future for their families and businesses.
Typically, passports for countries in Caribbean are cheaper to obtain. In the case of Dominica, getting a passport through its CIP will require a hefty $100,000 donation, which is still significantly less than what is required for UK passports (they're the most expensive ones to obtain at $2.6 million).
In most cases, applicants are subjected to strict criminal and financial background checks to make sure they are eligible for a CIP, before any residency or citizenship is approved. It could take several years to get approval — the US CIP, for example, requires applicants to fulfill a five-year residence requirement before approving citizenship.
For Canadians, obtaining a Dominica passport is relatively straightforward. It only takes 90 days for applications to be finalized. Interested individuals need to be at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record and be of good health to apply. There are no residency, education, language or managerial requirements under the Dominica CIP, however, single applicants will be required to contribute $100,000 USD to the country’s Economic Diversification Fund and attend an interview after the grant of citizenship and a passport.
An applicant can also choose to include his or her spouse and dependents in the process, though it will be a lot more expensive.
Other popular passports include Portugal ($419,160), which offers a two-year residency permit and fast-track citizenship, and Cyprus ($2.4 million), which has amazing investment opportunities in real estate.