5 Best Places To Establish Backup Residency Right Now
Live and Invest Overseas’ annual Retire Overseas Conference is primarily a lifestyle event; the focus is on where and how to live or retire overseas.
However, the past couple of years, something telling has struck me about this conference:
The number of people asking questions about opportunities for backup residencies and second citizenships has increased dramatically. Many more people are interested in these ideas than ever before in our history.
Many of the hundreds of people who join us for this conference are planning to make moves to new countries. After all, that’s really the big idea behind this event.
However, increasingly, many who join us in the room are looking not for help making a specific move… but for options. They want to be prepared should things back home turn in a direction that makes them overly uncomfortable. They want to know about the best places to establish residency that don’t require you to be physically present in the country… as well as options for picking up another passport.
Again, this is a recent development. Historically, attendees at these “retirement” events were not nearly as interested in the idea of a second citizenship.
The winners in the residency discussion (that is, the best places right now to shop for a “backup residency,” as we call it) are the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Panama. These three countries offer pensionado programs that come with minimal requirements for time in the country, as well as low retirement income thresholds. Nicaragua and Portugal are strong runners-up.
If you aren’t yet collecting Social Security and don’t have other pension income, residency through investment could be your best option. If that idea interests you, again, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, and Portugal are countries to consider.
You could obtain residency in Ecuador with an investment of as little as US$25,000. The downside to Ecuador is that you can’t be out of the country for more than 90 days either of the first two years after you’ve obtained residency… meaning this isn’t an ideal option for a backup plan but is appealing if you’d like to live in Ecuador.
Highlighting Residency in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the hands-down winner right now, as we explained to attendees at this week’s event in Orlando, for a second passport if you don’t have or don’t want to invest the money (at least US$100,000 plus fees) to for an economic citizenship.
You can qualify for residency in the DR by showing a guaranteed minimum income of as little as US$1,500 per month. Once you have obtained residency, you could have your DR passport as quickly as one year later.
Other countries featured at this week’s Retire Overseas Conference require at least five years of residency before you can apply for naturalization. That said, five years isn’t bad. Some countries—Andorra and Switzerland, for example—require 20 and 12 years, respectively, of residency before you can qualify for citizenship.
Highlighting Citizenship In Portugal
The best option for European citizenship right now is Portugal. Residency is relatively easy to obtain in this country, and you are eligible for naturalization after six years. Additionally, Portugal offers a residency program that comes with important tax breaks.
Other Residency Options
When considering various residency options, remember to factor in the total costs (beyond minimum monthly income requirements). You’ll have attorney and government fees up front, and, if applying with a spouse or other dependents, you may have additional income requirements and fees.
When choosing among second citizenship options, pay attention to the travel value of each one, especially if your intent is to give up your current citizenship. In this context, the Dominican Republic is not a super-star option. A DR passport is cheap, quick, and easy to obtain but allows for visa-free travel to fewer than 60 countries, not including any European countries at the moment (though our in-country sources tell us that the DR government is in the process of negotiating for visa-free travel status with all EU member countries).
At this year’s Retire Overseas Conference we’ll feature a panel discussion on these topics of residency and citizenship. In addition, our preferred and recommended attorneys from the Dominican Republic, Portugal, Panama, and Colombia will give detailed presentations on specific residency and citizenship options in those countries.