Friday, February 15, 2008

Hot air and second passports

Much is advertised on the Internet about how easy it is to get a second passport from countries such as Panama, Cape Verde, Belize and others. The second passport frenzy had its high with the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong - when thousands of Hongkongese sought alternatives to the hard-to-get British Overseas and Peoples' Republic passport - and hit a brick wall with the post-9-11 world.

The current bottom line is:

1) Panama has never had a legal "second passport" based on investments. The Rentista visa granted to bank accountholders allows them to have an identification booklet which has the same blue cover as a passport but the pages inside specify that the holder has no Panama citizenship. It does not even have the bar codes of a normal Panama passport.

2) The only way to get a legal Panama passport is to undergo the naturalization process (after being a permanent resident for 3 to 5 years - not a pensionado), being born in Panama soil or from a Panamanian parent. Thousands of US citizens were born in Panama during the 90 years of the Canal Zone and qualify for Panama citizenship.

3) Currently, the only countries with officially sanctioned economic citizenship programs granting a second passport are Austria, the Commonwealth of Dominica, and the Federation of St. Kitts/Nevis. Section § 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act program requires investing millions of euros in an Austrian business, with no guarantee that a passport will be forthcoming. In contrast, when you apply for a second passport in either Dominica or St. Kitts/Nevis, you make the necessary US$75K+ or US$350K+ investment only after you receive approval for your application and background documents.

3) Descendants of countries with high-emigration rates, such as Spain, Italy, Ireland, Israel and others, can apply for citizenship and passport by showing the birth certificate of an ancestor from said country. Ironically, those countries have now high-immigration rates in part thanks to said passports. The duty to provide military service may be a concern depending on the country.

4) An interesting alternative being promoted are passports with Dominican Republic citizenship, granted after only 1 year of residence. A very important negative is that Dominican citizens are subject to many restrictions when travelling.

5) As explained in Afroyim v. Rusk and other court rulings, US citizens generally do not lose their citizenship when acquiring a second passport.

5) Second passports from other countries are likely to be stolen (thousands of Panama passports "lost" before the 1989 US invasion), expired or belong to fairy tale domains such as Dominion of Melchidzek, Anjouan and others. The ‘World Passport’ from the ‘World Government of World Citizens’ in 14th Street, Washington is a scam.

This can never be the last word on second passports as countries regularly change their laws and are subject to international pressure to revoke these documents.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information!

What sort of restrictions does the Panama 2nd passport have? Does it allow travelling between countries with no restrictions?

Also Cyprus has a very good citizenship programme which involves substantial investments or deposits in the country.

Luke Bentley said...

Thank you for the Excellent Article!
If there are no laws, run way. If you are told about a special program, not for everyone, run.Panama is an excellent country for a second passport.