Multiple passports the latest accessory for seriously wealthy expats

Multiple passports the latest accessory for seriously wealthy expats

Multiple passports the latest accessory for seriously wealthy expats

Second, third and even fourth passports are the latest in status symbols for the ultra-rich as well as giving considerable tax advantages and opportunities to hide less than pristine currency.

The need for a second passport isn’t just related to obtaining ease of travel around an increasingly xenophobic world as it’s also linked to avoiding taxes due on super-high incomes as well as hiding ill-gotten gains. The recent surge in ‘citizenship for sale’ for a large bundle of cash is a bonus for the ultra-rich and gives them status as well as freedom to continue their luxury lifestyles uninterrupted by legal considerations.

The trend started around the time of the handover to China in 1997 of the then British colony of Hong Kong. Both wealthy expatriates and Hong Kong Chinese nationals rushed to acquire second passports, mainly because the colony’s fate was believed to have been hanging in the balance. A quick exit policy was a must, made much easier by a choice of passports. Since then, purchasing nationality for a wodge of dollars or pounds sterling has become a useful way for countries worldwide to increase their income.

Brexit is giving the latest opportunity for those desperate to retain the freedom of movement enjoyed by citizens of EU member states by purchasing citizenship, usually by ‘investing’ in an expensive property that’s unlikely to ever be lived in. The Chinese are masters of this technique but, when Canada introduced its property investment visa, so many luxury mansions remained empty the government was forced to cancel its offer and even confiscated some of the homes. Canadian real estate firms were extremely unhappy as a result, but Chinese buyers simply moved on to another country’s passport sale of the month..

Nowadays, the motivation is different, concentrating more on financial advantage rather than personal freedom should things go wrong, although this is still a motivation for the Chinese. Anti-money laundering laws are tightening after Chinese and Russian cash was suspected of having been laundered into the UK via its Tier 1 Investor Visa giving residency as a route to becoming a UK citizen. The choice of jurisdictions is expected to diminish as security measures and the tracking of banking activity in order to catch tax evaders exposes hitherto ‘safe’ countries.

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