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Why a second passport is the new ‘must have item’ for the world’s richest people

Second passports are hot property. Images: Getty

The world’s high-net-worth individuals are increasingly seeking second passports, as unchallenged access to travel destinations becomes the “ultimate luxury”.

In fact, inquiries from high-net-worth individuals about second passports are up 45 per cent year on year, the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory firms, deVere Group’s Nigel Green noted this week.

Why is it so popular?

Wealthy individuals around the world are now increasingly considering investing in a second citizenship or overseas residency, Green explained.

“A second passport or elite residency in a host country are now widely perceived by high-net-worth individuals as the ultimate luxury item,” he said.

“But perhaps unlike designer jewellery, yachts, supercars, or original artwork, owning government-backed citizenship or residency in another country isn’t merely a status symbol, there are other, further-reaching advantages.”

These include visa-free travel, world-class education, healthcare, political stability, tax efficiency and business opportunities.

He said deVere has mainly seen wealthy individuals from Indian, South Africa, Russia, the Middle East and China seeking passports for European or Caribbean countries.

“Those exploring what is now considered the ultimate luxury item, regard themselves as global citizens looking to explore opportunities for themselves and their families to live, study, do business and/or retire in a host country,” Green said.

And as the middle class grows and the world become more globalised, the trend for dual citizenship is likely to increase “exponentially” over the coming years.

Is it easy to get a second passport?

Not necessarily.

Each host country has different criteria for granting citizenship, including time spent in the country, being able to prove the legal source of funds and clean criminal records.

Other nations may allow those interested to invest for residency.

Most people seeking citizenship (and the passport that comes with it) will often choose to be a resident first as it is generally a cheaper and easier process, the head of global development at deVeres, James Minns added.

“Plus, some countries like China and India do not recognise dual citizenship, so residency is the only option,” he said.

“The investment-for-residency schemes are typically based on real estate investments and start from around 250,000 euros (AU$396,000) in Greece.”

Up in Portugal, the residency program requires only two weeks a year of residency to gain the benefits, including the right to live, work, study and open a business there, as well as travel across Europe’s Schengen area.

“Plus, there is the option of obtaining full citizenship after six years if required,” Minns said.

But residents generally need to buy a newly-built property worth 500,000 euros (AU$792,000) to be eligible.

“There are lower property options available, however, they are only for properties over 30 years old and most investors prefer the newer real estate as they typically provide better investment opportunities and are less hassle to maintain.”

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