Cheaper than a Gulfstream, nimbler than a superyacht, a second passport—or a third or fourth—has become another trophy for the ultra-wealthy.
Even self-styled citizens of the world, it seems, need a Plan B. Plus, that gold Maltese coat of arms looks classy. One must keep up.
Wealthy buyers “are looking for security” said Christian Kalin, chairman of Henley & Partners, which provides citizenship advice and publishes rankings such as the Quality of Nationality Index (France is No. 1). They want peace of mind in case of a revolution or other upheaval in their home countries, he said.
While many nations, the U.S. included, allow legal residents the chance to apply for citizenship after meeting certain criteria, only 10 countries permit outsiders to acquire citizenship outright. Most require payment in the form of a direct investment, typically in property or a local business.
Conveniently, eight of them are classified by the IMF as offshore financial centers, though Kalin said stability, not tax avoidance, is what motivates most buyers. That and bragging rights. “If you have a yacht and two airplanes, the next thing to get is a Maltese passport,” he said. “It’s the latest status symbol. We’ve had clients who simply like to collect a few.”