Casey on Second Passports
by Louis James, Editor, International
Doug, a lot of our readers have asked about getting a second passport.
I realize this is a large and complex issue several issues, actually
but would you care to go over the basics of where to go and what
to do? And for those not already thinking about this, why?
Sure. We've talked quite a bit about the increasing urgency of getting
some of your assets out of your home country, especially if it's
the United States. We've talked about having stores of precious
metals in safe places abroad, and setting up bank and brokerage
accounts abroad as well. I've said that the safest way to store
wealth abroad is to buy property, which can't be seized by your
home country without an act of war. The purchase of real estate
solves several issues all at once.
all about protecting assets; to protect yourself, getting a second
passport is unfortunately very important.
Because you shouldn't have to need government papers to live as
you please. It used to be that a passport was a document that a
ruler of one country would give to a traveler to ask the rulers
of other countries to assist him in his travels. Now, instead of
a convenience, it's become a required permit for travel. It's degrading
and actually runs counter to the whole idea of the thing. The original
purpose of a passport has been turned upside down.
are becoming a world ID card and they will be, once the governments
all link up their databases.
That's exactly what they are, and I'm sure it's going to get worse.
It's funny the way people treat these things like some sort of holy
relic, or magical object they are nothing but another government
ID. But since they are necessary in today's world, you ought to
have several of them, for your own convenience. If nothing else,
it prevents any one government from basically placing you under
house arrest by taking your passport away from you.
you really think of it mostly in terms of convenience? Or do you
sometimes think about the potential for physical danger, should
you find yourself in an Achille
Lauro-type situation in which violent people who hate Americans
select U.S. passport holders for abuse?
That's definitely a good reason for Americans to have a second passport,
and increasingly for others, now that the war with Islam is under
way. If you ever get caught in harm's way, it helps that nobody
starts by shooting all the people from countries they've never heard
up all the Uruguayans!
Right that just doesn't happen. Another reason certainly if
you're an American is that nobody any where in the world
wants to open a bank account or a brokerage account for you. It
ranges from impossible to hard and inconvenient. It's a subtle and
indirect form of exchange control that the U.S. has already imposed.
I have no doubt controls
will become much more formal and serious in the near future.
you saying that if I go to Switzerland, and I look and sound like
an American, but have a Mexican passport, they'll open a bank account
It depends. Here in Uruguay, where I'm still hanging out on the
beach, I went with a friend from South Africa to open a bank account,
using her South African passport. I didn't say a word, so I could
have been a South African too, for all they knew. Still, the bank
officer asked her: "Are you also a U.S. citizen?" and "Are you resident
in the U.S.?"
long arm of Uncle Sam keeps getting longer.
It really is getting harder and harder. Banks really don't want
the aggravations that come with dealing with "U.S. persons" and
their bullying government. Of course, it's all going to eventually
backfire on the U.S., but in the meantime it's going to get worse.
how have you dealt with this problem?
Well, when I first started on this, I got a travel document from
the World Service Authority
in Washington D.C. That organization was started by a guy named
Gary Davis, who was a bomber pilot for the U.S. during World War
II. He got so fed up with war and governments that he renounced
his U.S. citizenship while in Paris after the war. That was a big
deal, because he was also the son of Myer Davis, who was a famous
band leader during the war.
he renounced his citizenship, he found he couldn't leave France,
because he had no passport. So he created the World Service Authority
and printed up a very nice-looking passport that looked a great
deal like the UN passport. It was the same color, has a globe on
the front (though a bit different from the UN's globe), was printed
in some five languages, and quotations from the appropriate parts
of the UN charter.
I have one
that I got directly from Gary, himself, back in the 70s, and have
had some very interesting adventures with it. I've used mine successfully
in Iceland, French Polynesia, Honduras, Costa Rica and Peru. It
worked in some other places as well, but I'd have to look at the
stamps to list them all.
those still available?
Yes, they are, but with all these governments linking up and sharing
data prompted mainly by the U.S. government it doesn't work
nearly as well as in the past. Unfamiliarity used to be your friend.
Now, if you go to a country and the immigration officer doesn't
recognize your passport, he'll look it up on a list. But even in
the old days, it didn't always work. A Swiss border guard got very
affronted with me over it. When I used it in Rhodesia, during the
war, I got sent to the back of the line and got a big lecture. When
I used it in Egypt, it meant an hour in the back office, because
someone had used one the week before when he assassinated their
ambassador to Malta. In Senegal, 30 years ago a place so backward
you'd think they wouldn't even know but they laughed good naturedly
and said it was out of the question.
The most interesting
adventure was in Morocco, where the officer immediately called for
a supervisor, and the supervisor had me taken to a back office
something worth being a little nervous about back then and maybe
even more nervous about now. At the time, my French was still pretty
competent, and I was feeling my oats that day, so I was hanging
tough and arguing with the guy in French. In the end, I said to
him: "Okay, so what am I supposed to do?" He replied with an absolutely
perfect Gallic shrug. He could have been an actor in a movie. So,
I took out my U.S. passport and he took me back to the front of
David's right. You must be missing the gene for fear. Most people
wouldn't even have tried such a thing back then, and most who did,
probably gave up after wetting their pants in the first encounter
you call an adventure.
The "David" reference is to David Galland, Casey Research Managing
Perhaps so, and now the point may be moot. But even with all these
governments linking together, it's still worth getting a World Service
Authority travel document, because in some countries you have to
turn in your passport at hotels and other places.
I don't like it when they ask for my passport at hotels, and I
hate it when they say they have to keep it.
As well you should, for all kinds of reasons. You never know how
good the security at the hotel is, and the inconvenience of a lost
or stolen passport is substantial. I'd say a second one is a good
thing to have, just on principle. An alternative would be to get
documents from some of those people trying to set up new countries,
the WWII gun platform off the coast of England taken over by Roy
Bates and recognized by three countries. I spent an afternoon with
him once, but foolishly never signed up as a citizen. Oh well
outfits sell reproduction passports of defunct or renamed countries
like Rhodesia and British Honduras.
shudder to think of what "inconvenience" means to a man who finds
it amusing to argue with immigration officials in back rooms in
But at any rate, mentioning purveyors of passports
from defunct countries underscores the importance of telling our
readers that there are a lot of scams out there, and that it pays
to be very skeptical of web sites that claim to be able to set you
up with documents, corporations, and bank accounts overseas. There
are free-lance thieves to worry about, and worse governments trying
to entrap so-called tax evaders and money launderers. There's no
need to take such risks when you can go to any of the many countries
that encourage immigration and permanent residency, and acquire
government-issued documents legally.
Yes, these are indeed shark-infested waters. You really have to
do things in a totally correct and proper way. For instance, there
always seem to be people running around who have passports stolen
from the issuing agency, and some fools buy them, not realizing
they'll not only lose their money, but might wind up in jail besides.
But, even among perfectly legitimate documents, not all passports
are created equal.
would that be?
The defining characteristic of a "good" passport is how much visa-free
travel it allows. And by that I really mean visas that have to be
applied for, and approved, before the trip begins, as opposed to
those issued at the border. Avoiding those is the real key value.
In spite of
its reputation, a U.S. passport is by no means the best one to have.
First, if you have one, you're a U.S. taxpayer, which is very
inconvenient, but it also means you need visas for a lot more
countries than you would with some other passport. Argentina, Chile,
and Brazil, for instance, all charge Americans about $150 to issue
a visa. It's a perverse form of reciprocity, as that's what the
U.S. Government charges their citizens. It's the same kind of thinking
that starts trade wars, and I expect more of it in the years to
come but that's another subject.
South America, two passports that are relatively quick and easy
to get are those from Uruguay and Paraguay. Both countries are members
of the Mercosur group of South American countries, which offers
some additional advantages to their nationals.
One of the
best, I'm given to understand and this is constantly changing
is a Singapore passport. I also understand that Singapore has
a number of ways to become a citizen in a relatively short period
are some of the shortcuts to second citizenship?
One of the best is if you have parents or grandparents from a country
that will give you citizenship on that basis. Ireland and Italy
are known for this. It's true, under some circumstances, for the
UK as well. Saint Kitts is a relatively easy place to get a passport
quite quickly, but it involves a significant investment that adds
up to a couple hundred thousand dollars. Selling IDs is a significant
source of income for the island.
And of course,
in a number of countries you can obtain citizenship, and hence documents,
relatively easily by marrying a national. Brazil is one, and a Brazilian
passport is not a bad one to have.
on this out there, but there have been scam reports done on this
subject and many other sources that are simply unreliable, so watch
out. I don't think there's ever been a truly definitive study done
on all the ways, in all the 200 or so countries in the world. I
believe my book The
International Man was the first to really explore the ground
but it's long out of date. Even if there were a current book,
it would have to be updated monthly to be of real value governments
are always changing their rules. And when it comes down to the particulars
of a given situation, you'll want to hire a tax attorney and maybe
an immigration one as well, to make sure everything is done correctly.
That said, our team did put together a special report for people
considering expatriation, called Going Global (click
here for details).
better not to try for short cuts, but to move to a place you like
living in, at least part of the year. Operating through the established,
legally recognized channels, you can get a passport in two to five
And, to be clear, the U.S. allows second citizenships?
Yes. Many countries don't, and are strict about it. Others don't,
but look the other way. You may feel you want to keep your U.S.
documents for various practical reasons, but remember that keeping
your U.S. citizenship means remaining a U.S. taxpayer, which is
read that if your income is less than $100,000 per year and you
live abroad, it's not taxed, so maybe the tax issue is less important
to people who earn less than you?
That's true, but that exemption only applies only on income earned
outside the U.S. You still pay capital gains taxes, and taxes on
U.S.-sourced income. I also understand that under current law, until
2013, there's a $5 million exemption on appreciated expatriated
assets. That means there's a window closing soon on some of the
benefits of getting rid of your U.S. citizenship.
Readers should consult with a tax attorney before acting on anything
mentioned regarding taxes in this interview.]
reasons other than taxes you'd want to get rid of your U.S. citizenship?
If I was young enough, I'd worry about conscription, for example.
That's a very good reason. More generally, as long as you're a citizen
of a country, that country's government is going to treat you like
its property. So, if you are going to be a citizen of any place,
which is unfortunately necessary, it's better to be a citizen of
a small and backward country, or one that just doesn't have the
ability or interest to monitor all of its citizens like prison inmates,
as the U.S. does.
hear that. It's such a pity that America the beautiful has turned
into the United State and is rapidly marching down the road to serfdom
I really loved America.
Nothing lasts forever, Lobo. It's suicidal to let sentimentality
blind you to reality. But, eternal optimist that I am, it's always
good to look at one of the major bright sides of the ongoing financial
and economic collapse. Namely that the governments of most advanced
nation-states are bankrupt. There's a chance that some of them will
be forced to cut back on their most noisome activities. There's
even a chance that one or two will be completely hollowed out and
will exist mostly in theory, like Rome in the late 5th century.
It's very hard
to predict what will happen, so it's best to have a Plan B. And
a Plan C. Unfortunately, most people have a medieval serf mentality
although they don't know it, and probably wouldn't admit it even
if they did and have no plan at all, because they think everything
agree. And you know I'm diversifying out of the U.S. as well. Any
other essential points?
Yes, remember that getting a second passport is just part of a larger
"permanent traveler" strategy. The ideal is to live in one place,
have your citizenship in another, your banks and brokers in other
jurisdictions, and your business dealings in yet others. That makes
it very inconvenient for any one government to control you. You
don't want all your eggs in one basket that just makes it easier
for them to grab them all. I understand it may not be easy for most
people to structure their affairs that way. That's exactly why most
serfs stayed serfs; it was hard and scary to think of anything other
than what they were told they should do.
Thanks for the guidance.
You're welcome. Maybe we should talk about Obama's state of the
Union address next week, but that means I'd have to actually listen
to the thing, and that would be painful.
Maybe Mr. Market will provide us with something more entertaining
to talk about. Well, we'll see. Buenas noches, Tatich.
Doug has much
more to say about internationalizing your wealth (and yourself)
in his article "Making the Chicken Run," in the current edition
Casey Report. Try it today with 3-month full money-back
Casey (send him mail)
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