For generations, the American passport afforded its holders the privilege of hassle-free travel around much of the world. That has changed with the coronavirus pandemic. While borders are beginning to reopen to international travel, some countries are staying closed to Americans because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak stateside.
These travel restrictions are producing an emerging trend among some wealthy Americans: buying a second passport.
“This limitation of mobility has made more people aware of ... the benefits of having more than one passport,” said Armand Arton, the president of financial firm Arton Capital, which specializes in citizenship through investment.
The firm defines citizenship by investment as “the process of obtaining a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country.” These investments can come in the form of real estate, bonds or various new business ventures.
Arton says his firm has seen a 30 to 40 percent increase, year to date, in demand for services that help clients obtain citizenship in a sovereign state through financial means. The price tag for these services varies, ranging from $100,000 for some Caribbean options to more than $2 million for European ones.
Before the coronavirus, the plan mainly appealed to Americans for tax purposes, Arton says. But mid-pandemic, motivations have shifted. Some of Arton Capital’s American clients are in mixed-nationality relationships where couples have been separated because of pandemic travel bans. Others are worried about the impact of U.S. politics on their passport’s global standing.
The concept is about 35 years old, Arton says. Today there are approximately 25 countries, including Portugal, Dominica and the United Kingdom, that offer forms of residency or citizenship-by-investment programs as a revenue source.