How the super-rich are becoming citizens of the world

July 23, 2018

What’s the newest status symbol for the ultra-rich? According to a report by Bloomberg, it’s a second passport—or a third, or a fourth. After all, why claim all of the rights and perks of citizenship to just one country, when multiple passports offer so much more flexibility in uncertain times?

Wealthy buyers “are looking for security” Christian Kalin, chairman of Henley & Partners, told the business news outlet. They want peace of mind in case of a revolution or other upheaval in their home countries, he said.

In turn, his company provides citizenship advice, and publishes rankings and guides to the most valuable citizenships, such as the Quality of Nationality Index (on which France is number one; Germany, number two, and Iceland, number three).

While many nations, the U.S. included, allow legal residents the chance to apply for citizenship after meeting certain criteria, only ten countries permit outsiders to acquire citizenship outright. Most require payment in the form of a direct investment, typically in property or a local business.

Conveniently, eight of them are classified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as offshore financial centers, although Kalin said stability—not tax avoidance—is what motivates most buyers. That and bragging rights. “If you have a yacht and two airplanes, the next thing to get is a Maltese passport,” he said. “It’s the latest status symbol. “

And indeed it should be. Citizenship can cost as much as $24 million in Austria; over $2 million in Cypress; more than $1 million in Malta, and so on. The “bargains” can be found in St. Kitts and Nevis ($150,000); as well as in Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, and Barbuda (all $100,000).

“We’ve had clients who simply like to collect a few,”Kalin said.

According to the Migration Policy Institute “thereis little reliable data on the numbers of dual or plural nationals around the world. “

Research contact: @PierrePaulden

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