Welcome to Offshore Living Letter, Your #1 Resource for Offshore Diversification

The Travel And Visa Benefits Of A Second Passport

20 Apr
investing in paraguay

Arriving In Paraguay Reminds Me I’m Glad To Be Irish (My Second Passport)

Americans can enter Paraguay via the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asunción without having a visa in advance. Enter the country by road or boat, and you have to obtain your visa before you travel.

It’s not a big deal getting the visa at the airport, but it slows you down and costs US$160. It’s a reciprocity fee that Paraguay charges not only Americans, but also Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Taiwanese.

American friends traveling with me were the last to clear immigration despite being the first off the plane. Again, not a big deal, but when your plane arrives at 11 p.m., you want to get to your hotel as quickly as you can.

With our Irish passports, Kathleen and I were through immigration quickly and ready get in a taxi. She insisted, though, that we wait for our American friends.

Having a second passport has, over the years, saved me both time and money traveling. It has been particularly useful when traveling in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and now Paraguay. Chile eliminated its reciprocity fee for Americans when the United States made Chile a Visa Waiver Program country in 2014. Argentina still requires Americans to pay a fee to travel to that country, and that fee has to be paid online before traveling. Brazil requires Americans to obtain a visa before traveling to that country. At least Paraguay allows Americans to show up and organize a visa on the spot.

However, with my Irish passport, I’ve avoided the fees and the lines altogether.

What Are Your Objectives For A Second Passport?

Of course, saying a second passport comes in handy is easier than obtaining one. It takes time or money. Before you go chasing a second passport, make sure the one you target will give you the benefits you’re looking for.

In some cases, the objective is simple. Some people want a second citizenship simply so they can give up their current citizenship. If that is your agenda, you should recognize that not all passports are equal. That is, even if all you want is a second passport… any second passport… not just any second passport will do. You’ve got to consider the travel usefulness of a passport from any potential new country of citizenship. This website ranks countries’ passports by number of visa-free or visa-on-entry countries.

U.S. and U.K. passports are the most useful for visa-free travel; both allow you to travel visa free to 147 countries. Ireland comes in sixth; with an Irish passport, you can travel visa free to 141 countries. I’ve not been able to do a cross-over analysis to come up with the total number of countries a holder of both a U.S. and an Irish passport can travel to visa-free, but it’s more than 150.

Passports from countries in the Caribbean offering economic citizenship provide for visa-free travel to from 72 countries to 113. So, while one of these could be the quickest route to a second passport, you’ll want to check to which countries you can travel easily before dropping as much as US$500,000 on a passport that might not easily support the travel you intend.

Benefits Of A Second Passport

Even if you don’t want to give up your current citizenship, a second passport can be worthwhile for you (not only because it’ll save you US$160 every time you travel to Paraguay). A main benefit of a second passport can be residency. An EU passport allows you to live and work anywhere in the EU. My Irish passport means I don’t have to qualify or apply for residency in any EU country where I’d like to spend extended time, for example. That lifestyle flexibility could be a great benefit not only for you, but also for your children.

Holding a Caricom passport provides similar benefits in the Caribbean. Carry a passport from one of the 15 Caricom countries, and residency and working is much simpler for you in any of the member countries. All four of the Caribbean nations that offer economic citizenship (St. Kitts, Antigua, Grenada, and Dominica) are members of Caricom.

In addition to ease of travel, safety in travel is another reason to seek a second passport. While many groups target Americans around the world, few harbor grudges against us Irish.

Lief Simon

P.S. Paraguay ranks 32nd on the Passport Index I reference above, allowing for visa-free travel to 108 countries. Any passport allowing visa-free travel to more than 100 countries is a good choice. While in Paraguay this week I’ll be researching this country’s options for residency and naturalization. Residency is fairly straightforward by all accounts, but the naturalization approval requires showing strong ties to Paraguay. Hopefully, one of my contacts will be able to define what qualifies as “showing strong ties.”