Second Passport: 9 Things to Consider Before Getting One

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

We live in uncertainty today. Can you be certain that whatever comfort zone you have will remain the same always? A social movement, political issues, economic issues, natural disaster…

A back up plan is essential in today’s world, and a second passport gives you just that. An option in life. A choice on how and where you choose to live, your standard of living, how much taxes you pay and who will inherit your estates.

A second passport is like an insurance policy.

But before you jump on the boat to get a second passport, you should consider the following to decide on the right country for your second passport:

1. Is dual citizenship allowed?

There are countries that don’t allow dual citizenship. This works both ways, your original country and the new country you are considering. If either one country doesn’t allow dual citizenship, you have 2 choices – to renounce your original citizenship; or to become a permanent resident in your new country but not applying for citizenship. However, you need to be aware that in many countries, permanent residency still requires renewal every 5 – 10 years. You need to find out what are the requirements for the renewal of permanent residency in your chosen country and if you can meet the criteria in the long term.

2. Do you want to move right away or just as a Plan B?

Your chosen way of living, a relaxing life in the beach

Most countries have a significant minimum numbers of days that you need to reside in the country as one of the immigration requirements. Meaning that you might need to forgo your current job. But what if you are not yet ready for the move immediately? What if you still want to work for a few more years but don’t want to delay getting your second passport because no one knows what will happen tomorrow? In the same way, what if the second passport is really just a back up plan? Nevertheless, can you still immigrate and get that second passport without being physically there?

Fortunately, there are countries that allows you to immigrate, get their temporary residency and eventually their citizenship/ passport with very short stay requirements. Most of these schemes are investment related immigration, meaning you need to invest a certain amount in the country to get the immigration visa. One example is Portugal, which requires only a stay of 14 days every 2 years, and you can apply for citizenship after 5 years. Check out here about Portugal’s Golden Visa program and what it offers in terms of your Plan B.

3. How does the tax system works?

This one is a biggie, and one of the top reasons why people want to seek a second passport. Other than the normal income tax and capital gain tax. You should also find out if it has a worldwide (foreign) income policy (most western countries have that); if there is a tax treaty between that country and your original country/ territory; how will it tax your retirement benefit (if you choose to retire in the second country); any tax exemption and so on.

Portugal offers a remarkable tax incentive through the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) scheme, providing a tax break for the initial 10 years. This scheme grants an exemption from global income tax (with the exception of a modest 10% tax on pensions) and applies a flat 20% tax rate on income earned in Portugal for high-demand professions. Check out here for how to get your tax id (NIF), and declaring your tax residency and apply for NHR.

4. What is the inheritance law and tax?

This one is often neglected because most people think it’s too far away. But do you know that a lot of countries tax a whopping 40% on your estate? On the other hand, Portugal is one of the few countries that has 0% inheritance tax for direct descendants and spouse. If you want to leave something for your children, it’s time to look into inheritance law and tax.

5. How safe is the country?

Ensuring the safety of a country is a crucial step before considering a move or obtaining a second passport. Let’s face it, safety concerns abound in today’s world, ranging from social unrest and terrorist threats to conflicts and discriminatory practices. It’s essential to make an informed decision about your destination. You can check out the report here on the safest counties in the world. Portugal is ranked 7th in the world!!

6. How powerful is the passport that you are getting?

Portuguese passport ranked 4th in Global Passport Power Rank 2020

It’s true that people and officials overseas treats you differently if you hold a powerful passport. Not only for the omission of needing a travel visa, but also in times when you get into trouble overseas. Their attitudes change when you show them a powerful passport. Just to let you know, Portuguese passport ranked 4th in Global Passport Power Rank 2024 by passportindex.com and ranked 5th in terms of travel freedom according to the 2023 Henley Passport Index, with visa-free or visa on arrival access to 189 countries and territories.​

7. How does the healthcare system work?

Do you get free health care? What level of service quality do you get from public health care? Besides, what are the cost of private health care? In many cases, non-residents don’t get any health care benefit, and it may take some time before the system kicks back in when you move there and declare residential status. So you may want to buy some expat health insurance initially until you get the health care system sorted out for any unforeseen medical issue or accident. Portugal provides free health care to its residents if you live there. Check out the details on Portugal’s healthcare system.

8. How does the education system work?

If you have children, chances are these questions are already on your mind. Are educational opportunities free, and does the country boast a strong education system? What are the university fees, and how do they rank? Is it easy to transition between your home country’s educational system and the new one, and vice versa? Consider researching, joining online communities, and exploring school websites to gather valuable insights. With a growing expat community in Portugal, the international school scene has flourished in recent years, providing more options than ever before. However, it’s advisable to plan ahead – due to high demand, early enrollment, preferably at least six months in advance, is recommended.”

9. People have preferences on weather, culture, food, community and more, do your research and make your choices carefully

Great food in Portuguese, the egg tart - pasteis de nata

Loving a country on vacation is different then loving a country while you live there. Even if you are just getting the second passport as a back up plan, it’s wise to be assured that you could happily live there, if needed be. Otherwise, your back up plan doesn’t give you a real eligible option. Check out here on what Portugal will give you in terms of quality of life.

Ultimately you need to know the best country to pick a second passport and exactly how to do it. Click here if you want to know more on why Portugal may be your ideal choice.

If you are planning to relocate to Portugal or any other country, check out job opportunities for expats abroad on platforms like Jooble.

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