Obtaining a second passport

“Boy, did they go through fast.” We looked with envy as the European Union passport holders whisked through Immigration, while our line inched forward in tandem with the beetle on the floor.

“Maybe we should get a Dutch passport,” I said to Flory.

A letter to ITN from George Nastas of Haslett, Michigan, requesting an article about the acquisition of second passports, prompted me to action. My research turned up the following interesting tidbits.

Websites promising citizenship

My research turned up the following websites, all promising citizenship of one sort or another.

“Second passports, Economic citizenship programs. . .” screams the headlines from the website with the lofty name EscapeArtist.com (www.escapeartist.com/passports/passports.htm). Hasn’t it always been your secret wish to get official documents through Escapeartist.com?

The spiel continues: “Grenada Second Passport — After three and one half years EscapeArtist.com endorses a 2nd passport for the very first time. There is no question in our mind that it is a totally legitimate legal passport with visa free travel to over 60 countries. . . We endorse it’s legitmacy 100%.” (Spelling mistakes are included free of charge. — P.W.)

“Isn’t it about time that you got a second passport from another country, even if it’s just to be on the safe side?” exclaims Second Passport Consultants (www.secondpassports.2itb.com). The cost? For Central American citizenship, $5,000; for E.U. citizenship, $7,000, and for a diplomatic passport, a mere $9,000.

A third website, from CCP, Inc. (www.goccp.com/ENG/secondcitizen.htm), sedately asks, “Second Passport and Second Citizenship — Why Do You Need It?” and offers you a citizenship in Dominica with the come-on, “It is the path to tax and personal freedom.”

A fourth one tries to entice you with the following: “Panama Residency Is Easy When You Invest In Teak.”

Other sites offering Grenada, Dominican Republic and Belize (could that be a diving citizenship?) are up for grabs for $5,000-$7,000.

A fifth website, ImmigrationServicesInternational (www.tcfb.com/secondpassport/countries.htm), touts Bolivia: “After all these years we have been providing services to our clients we have learned the most usefull (spelling mistake included at no charge. — P.W.) nationality is the one which can be acquired legally, quickly and above all inexpensively. These three premises are definitely met by Bolivia.

“In most cases from the time sending your application to the approval by the government no more than four weeks will pass. The Government costs of a mere $15,000 are surprisingly low. In addition, at this time Bolivia is the only state which provides a legitimate program to acquire a diplomatic status and a diplomatic passport.”

Another website offers a lifetime passport in the geographical region of the European Union within 40 days. (I quote: “Any official inquiry directed to the said country’s Ministry of Interior will receive confirmation that the passport holder is indeed a bona fide citizen.”) Alas, passport renewal is every five years. The fee is $7,000 for the applicant, an additional $7,000 for the spouse and $7,000 for each child. Payment terms: 30% advance and 70% upon receipt of document copies.

“We are bound by contract not to divulge the country’s name before having received proof of funds. This is for your protection and that of the program alone.” What a deal!

Well, if you have found the right nation above, don’t read any further. Otherwise, please continue.

If you can’t find what you need, please e-mail me. For only $15,000 (due to inflation, I had to increase my fee from last year’s $10,000), I will refer you to the proper agency. The charge is for the referral only. My wife, Flory, will hold the funds in escrow in her piggy bank. All perfectly legal, of course!

Dual nationality

Before considering whether a second passport is worthwhile, we should discuss the subject of dual nationality.

An American citizen (either by birth or naturalized) can have dual nationality and as such is allowed to have two passports. The following is paraphrased from the U.S. Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html.

Dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. For example, a U.S. citizen may acquire foreign nationality by marriage, while a naturalized U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of his/her birth country. U.S. law does not mention dual nationality. A person who acquires another citizenship risks losing U.S. nationality only if it is done with the intention to give up U.S. nationality.

Note that the laws of foreign countries may or may not allow dual nationality. Information on losing alien citizenship can be obtained from the foreign nation’s embassy and consulates in the United States.

Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its laissez-passer (passport).

Naturalization requirements

Were you to obtain a second passport, pick a country that allows you visa-free travel to every place you like to visit. Make sure your hard-earned document will not lead to an increase in your taxes and that your chosen nationality is not regarded as inferior by those who will require your passport for identification.

Well, nothing is simple, and to get a laissez-passer in any of the European countries I researched, you have to be a national of that country. Unless you were born there, had the nationality previously or are married to a citizen of that nation, you have to live in the country a specified time to acquire its citizenship.

For your infornmation, I list the residence requirements for various nations below.

France: Five years; the applicant must have domicile in France at time of naturalization.

Switzerland: 12 years.

Monaco: 10 years’ unbroken stay after reaching the age of 21.

Belgium: Three years.

Spain: The petitioner must be a legal resident in Spain. The duration of residence varies with a person’s nationality or other individual circumstances.

Italy: Two years after age 21.

Portugal: Six to 10 years with sufficient knowledge of Portuguese language, etc.

Netherlands: The foreign national may not live in the country of which he/she is a national and in most cases he/she will have to have passed the “naturalization test” before submitting an application.

Liechtenstein, Germany, Luxembourg and Austria: All four require renunciation of U.S. citizenship.

I guess Bolivia isn’t so bad after all!

If you still want to go ahead with a second passport, remember my offer. $15,000 securely ensconced in Flory’s piggy bank.

Dr. Wagenaar welcomes questions but may not be able to answer them individually. Write to him c/o ITN.