It’s hard to take much in the way of positivity from the past 15 months or so, yet the circumstances thrust upon us have changed behaviours – or at least restrictions have accelerated such change. Amongst these is a compelling increase in the number of individuals seeking residency or citizenship in non-native countries.
Yes, this is a thing and it’s becoming a very popular endeavour indeed, although the statistics are erratic, with certain countries finding huge favour as destinations and others, well, not so much.
Our research highlights those domiciles that are currently growing the most in popularity, including Turkey, Thailand, Dominica and Vanuatu (an archipelago of 83 islands in the South Pacific).
The rise of dual residency and citizenship is not a new thing and here in the UK was formally legitimised by the British Nationality Act of 1948 and then in the USA by the Supreme Court in 1967.
And the reason that someone may want a second passport? Well, there are multiple reasons but here’s a brief list from our experience as facilitators of such:
• The Pandemic – Political policy on Covid-19 restrictions has been markedly different nation to nation and having the benefit of choice under which regime to live in such circumstances has to some been the most valuable thing of all things in recent months.
• Taxation – As a global citizen with business interests in several enclaves you may wish to seek the most appropriate taxation regime for your personal and business tax affairs.
• Freedom of Movement – As Brexit bites, many British citizens and also those that do business in the UK and travel here frequently, wish to maintain access to the EU as one of the world’s most powerful trading entities.
• Safety – Geo-politics is fraught. Today’s paradise is tomorrow’s coup and residents of certain unstable political environments may seek the comfort of a secondary base.
Family – family units of mixed nationalities often seek to consolidate their status into one common country that they can all call home.
• Business – In addition to freedom of movement, truly international businesspeople want to be able to exist on a level playing field in every country they trade within. With territories such as Dubai restricting the ownership of company shares and property to their own citizens, it makes sense to be able to operate under the flag of those countries for maximum control over one’s assets.
This is not an exhaustive list but provides an idea as to why dual residency and citizenship is so popular. There is a criterion of course and this varies quite considerably from country to country. The essence of the requirement for consideration of a second passport or initial residency is usually an investment into property or company stock in each territory.
One of the reasons Turkey was 323 per cent more popular for such applications in 2020 versus the previous year is because its entry barrier is so low – just £194,000, making it one of the most affordable of schemes.
Turkey also provides a great base for foreign investors who want a convenient portal to the booming Eurasian market, and there is also potential for the country to soon gain access to the Schengen Zone, allowing visa-free access to the other 26 member nations.
Similar rules apply to Vanuatu. Located close to Australia, the nation is part of the Commonwealth and, despite its physical distance from Europe, passport holders benefit from visa-free access to the 26 countries in the EU’s Schengen Zone, including the UK. Not to mention a very desirable pace of life.
Clearly, a multi-country strategy is an endeavour for those who can justify such a cost, albeit the Turkey scenario demonstrates that this is not just a thing for billionaires or even millionaires. That said, host countries of wealthy individuals and their business interests that invest in having a foot in more than one camp will inevitably see that wealth trickling down in property market buoyancy and related consumer spending. This is why countries like the USA, Spain, Greece and the UK operate these schemes: it’s a legitimate investment in their economies.
For now, some places are in a state of decline where residency investment is concerned due to varying Covid-19 infection rates and restrictions. Nations including Greece, Spain and Portugal are, traditionally, very popular schemes but all experienced a decline in the year of Covid. Much of this is the result of these countries enduring higher-than-average Covid numbers and therefore being subject to harsher travel restrictions from other nations.
Yet with over £6bn invested in residency schemes in 2020, I wouldn’t bet on anything other than growth in this sector as the world continues to provide problems and increasing opportunities for globally-minded individuals.
• Astons is an international real estate company with over 30 years experience helping people to relocate their lives, lifestyles and companies through the complex world of global immigration law. For more information on bespoke residence and citizenship solutions in the UK, EU and Caribbean through property investment visit the Astons website here.