Why America's Wealthy Are Getting Second Passports

Billionaires in the U.S. are expanding their passport portfolios, applying for multiple citizenships in countries like Italy, Portugal, and Greece—here’s why. 

Wealthy families and individuals across the U.S. are applying for second, in some cases multiple, passports across various countries. According to data from law firm Henley & Partners, the U.S. has the most number of people applying for other citizenships and alternative residences, reports Robert Frank of CNBC. Some may wonder what the purpose of this expansion is, given the power of the country’s passport. However, many wealthy Americans are doing this to add an extra layer of safety amid challenging or unpredictable circumstances in the country.

America’s wealthy are diversifying their passport portfolio as a safety measure against uncertain circumstances in the country/Photo by Spencer Davis via Unsplash

READ ALSO: Travel Perks: Which Countries Hold The Most Powerful Passports In The World This 2024?

Diversifying Citizenships

“The U.S. is still a great country, it’s still an amazing passport. But if I’m wealthy, I would like to hedge against levels of volatility and uncertainty,” shared Dominic Volek, an executive of Henley & Partners, in a statement according to Heather Hunter of the Washington Examiner.  “The idea of diversification is well understood by wealthy individuals around what they invest. It makes no sense to have one country of citizenship and residence when I have the ability to actually diversify that aspect of my life as well.”

Gaining more citizenships is a way for high-net worth individuals to attain more mobility and security/Photo by Christine Roy via Unsplash

Some noteworthy billionaires who’ve acquired second citizenship include former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (in Cyprus), Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel (in France), and tech investor Peter Thiel (in New Zealand), reports Whizy Kim of Vox

The idea of getting second passports isn’t particularly new, though it experienced a boom during the COVID pandemic—arguably one of the most volatile periods in modern history for many businesses and individuals. Other factors like political turmoil have also pushed the wealthy to seek alternative places of residence for when the need to flee arises. 

Go-To Countries for Passports 

According to the firms like Henley & Partners and Latitude Residency & Citizenship, there are certain countries that wealthy Americans favor above all else when applying for multiple passports. 

The first on the list is Portugal, which has a five-year residence permit with visa-free travel across 26 countries in the European Union. For many of America’s wealthy, it’s a land of opportunity and potential new home for future generations. 

“Portugal is the next California. You have tremendous talent going there, tremendous wealth going there,” explained Ezzedeen Soleiman, a managing partner at Latitude Residency & Citizenship, to Hannah Towey of Business Insider

According to a separate feature by Katie Balevic of Business Insider and Robert Frank’s article for CNBC, Henley & Partners’ data shows that American billionaires also prefer acquiring citizenship in Greece, Malta, Italy, and New Zealand. 

Obtaining passports in these countries requires individuals to invest large sums of money, often in the hundreds of thousands to millions. However, for those with plenty of money to spare, it’s a small price to pay for the security and numerous possibilities that a second home can offer. 

Banner photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels.

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