Many Americans would like to think that because they live in the greatest country in the world, theirs are the most powerful passports out there. However, unfortunately for us, that’s not the least bit true. According to the Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the access each country’s travel document affords, the U.S. currently ties for the 6th best passport to have. So also having a passport from another country may be able to gain you easier access to places that U.S. passports can’t.
That situation is usually reserved for people who were born in one county and then moved to the United States; it’s called dual citizenship. However, if you weren’t born in another country, and still want to access to a passport from a different country, it’s still technically possible…
You buy one.
Well, not a passport; you can’t buy a passport from another country just because you want one (that’d be COOL, though!). Instead, if you purchase property in certain countries, you’re eligible for a residence visa. Once you have established residency, you may be able to get a passport – but the rules vary from country to country (i.e. for Greece, you don’t have to spend any time in the country but you’re required to be able to read & write in Greek, but in Latvia you’d have to live there full time for 12 months before you can apply for naturalization. Meanwhile, you’d only have to spend a week or two at a time in Portugal).
Of course, the property purchases have to be significant. Here are a few examples, as per Forbes (prices accurate as of the first half of 2019):
- Cyprus: At least 300,000 euros on a new property in a government-approved development.
- Greece: At least 250,000 euros. This is one of the cheapest investment programs in Europe. And since real estate prices in Greece are undervalued, they’ll let you buy multiple properties in order to make the 250k euros. Isn’t that nice of them? 😉
- Latvia: 250,000 euros plus a 5% application fee based on the property price. Prepare to wait a while, though – you can’t apply for citizenship for five years. That’ll give you time to learn the language, because you’ll have to pass a language test in order to get citizenship there, too.
- Malta: Malta has its own Citizenship By Investment program. Under the program, it, “…allows you to apply for naturalization after 12 months of residency if you to make a real estate purchase for 350,000 euros or more, invest 150,000 euros in government bonds, and donate 650,000 euros to the National Development and Social Fund. An additional donation of 25,000 euros is required if you are applying with a spouse. In addition, you must have lived in Malta for at least half the year during those 12 months.” Or you can qualify for residency with a real estate purchase of 320,000 euros (270,000 euros if you buy on the Maltese island of Gozo), plus an investment of 250,000 euros in Maltese government bonds and a government donation of 30,000 euros.
- Portugal: You have a few different options here, including a donation to scientific research or Portuguese art and culture, or by investing in or starting a business and creating jobs. OR you could make a real estate purchase of 350,000 euros in a property that is older than 30 years or 500,000 euros in a newer property, and you qualify for residency. These amounts can be reduced by 20% if you buy in a low population area. Then to maintain your residency status, you have to spend 7 days in the country for the first year and 14 days every two years thereafter.
Obviously, some major research would need to be done before considering these or the options of any other country ;-).
A U.S. passport allows you to enter 183 destinations without a visa, and another 43 with one. Frankly, with those kinds of prices, that’s good enough for me. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary