Why You Should Have a Second Passport

(Puedes leer este artículo en Español en este enlace)

Many of us who live in the United States, but are of Hispanic descent, fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Born in another country but acquired American citizenship
  • Born in the United States,  but one or both parents was born in another country

If you fall in either of these two categories, you have a great advantage in the quest for a second passport.

  • The passport of the country where you were born
  • The passport of the country where your parents were born

Did you realize that many Americans are currently investing $100,000 or more for a second citizenship? Would it be worthwhile to get a second passport, if you can do so easily?
  1. Enjoy visa-free access to more countries
    Although the American passport is one of the best, with visa-free access to 174 countries, there are still some places where travel is restricted.
    For example, with an American passport you will need a visa to enter Brazil,  and as of 2016 this visa will set you back $160. (This requirement has been temporarily waived until September 18, 2016 to promote tourism during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.) This means you have to travel to a Brazilian consulate to fill out an application, which requires additional pictures, proof of sufficient funds for your trip, and a round trip ticket. But if you have a Mexican passport or a passport from most Central American countries, you could enter Brazil visa-free. And if you are a citizen of most South American countries, you can enter Brazil with only your identification card.
    Among Latin American coumtries, the best passports are: Chile (155 countries), Brazil (153 countries), Argentina (151 countries), Mexico (139 countries), and Uruguay (137 countries). The Colombian passport has dramatically improved its ranking since December 2015, when it was granted visa free access into the European Union.
  2. Choose to leave the country in case of war, chaos, or economic collapse
    Stop and think about the current situation in Venezuela.  If something similar were to happen in the United States,  where would you go? It would not be the first economic collapse in this country. If you decide to travel to your country of origin,  could you be in that country legally for more than 30, 60 or 90 days? What would you do when your allowed time as a tourist runs out?
    Of course,  we would rather not imagine that scenario. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, especially when other options, such as obtaining a second passport, are easily accessible.
  3. Work, start a business, or open a bank account in another country
    There are two countries in the world that practice citizenship-based taxation (instead of residence-based): United States and Eritrea.
    Due to that law, an American citizen that neither lives nor works in the United States, must still file a fairly complicated tax return. To enforce that law, all banks worldwide must inform the American government if anyone opens a bank account using an American passport. These rules get more complicated each year, so that now many international banks refuse to open accounts for American citizens.


How can I obtain a second passport?

Every county is different. Most Latin American countries allow dual citizenship. Many will grant you citizenship if one or both of your parents was born there. In some cases, you can become a resident, and over time a citizen, if your spouse if a national of that country.

For example, the husband or wife of a Colombian national can obtain a resident visa for 1-3 years. An American could obtain Colombian citizenship in this way after 3 years of residing in Colombia.  However, somebody who has a passport from any Latin American country,  and is married to a Colombian citizen, could acquire Colombian nationality after only 1 year of residing there.

This is a brief overview of the benefits we see in having a second passport.  Have you obtained your second passport, or are you considering it?

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