Why are high net worth individuals seeking second passports?

Passport on the plane in front of the window

By Preeya Malik 

In recent years, many high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) have sought second passports and residencies outside of their home countries. Different motives drive these affluent individuals to pursue second citizenship. 


HMWIs seek a second passport primarily because of the enhanced global mobility it affords. A second passport from selected countries grants an individual visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries worldwide that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access hassle-free.

This freedom of movement is extremely valuable, enabling HNWIs to travel without the inconvenience of often long processing times of visa applications and granting them expedited immigration processes. This is particularly advantageous for business magnates and investors, allowing them to explore international opportunities, expand their businesses, and foster global connections.  

In some cases, companies will pay for high-level executives to obtain secondary passports via investment immigration routes (mostly through Caribbean countries, where passports are issued within a matter of months) to ensure maximum ease of business travel and because of the benefits then afforded to the company as a whole 

There is also the issue of geopolitical instability and economic uncertainty, which has driven some wealthy individuals to look for options that will bring their families higher levels of safety and security. Obtaining a second passport offers individuals a sense of certainty, providing the option of alternative residence in a politically stable and economically robust nation should the need ever arise.  

This sense of security increases in significance when considering that a second passport will also mean citizenship for a spouse and any minor or unmarried children, meaning it is not only the individual but their entire family whose future is secured. These considerations are particularly crucial in regional conflicts or economic downturns, allowing HNWIs and their families the choice and flexibility to live, work, and study in a safe and secure environment. 


HNWIs often have high levels of financial literacy and are, therefore, well-versed in diversifying their investments. Acquiring a second passport enables them to diversify their financial and geographic assets. They tacitly secure a stable foothold in these nations by investing in real estate or other ventures in developed countries. This diversification strategy then acts as a safeguard against economic uncertainties in their home countries, providing a sense of stability and security for their families and business interests while consolidating their global assets and net worth.  

Additionally, a second passport often facilitates easier business transactions, attracting international investors and fostering economic growth in the host country. 


Gaining citizenship or residency in a developed country isn’t just about the applicant themselves; the advantages extend to their family. The applicant’s spouse and children (who classify as a minor at the time of application) can also join them as residents of the country. In some investment immigration programs such as Portugal’s Golden Visa, this benefit can also extend to additional family members such as older dependent children or dependent parents of the investor and spouse.  

This can have huge implications for the entire family's future, impacting things like access to better healthcare, higher levels of education, and career aspirations, as outlined below. In addition, securing a second citizenship today will ensure security for generations to come, leaving HNWIs feeling more confident about their family’s future and generational wealth.

Educational opportunities 

Many affluent families aspire to provide their children with the best educational opportunities in the world.  

Second passports from certain countries often come with the advantage of access to high-quality education systems. Countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK) are renowned for their prestigious universities and academic excellence. By acquiring citizenship in these nations, HNWIs ensure their children have the option to study at top-tier educational institutions, setting the foundation for successful futures and valuable networking. 

Although it is possible to study abroad without citizenship, there are distinct advantages of studying in these countries as citizens rather than foreign students, such as benefitting from: 

  • Lower tuition fees. 
  • Having the opportunity to work freely during studies (in some instances taking on placement years). 
  • Easier access to post-graduate work opportunities. 
  • Ability to integrate more fully into the culture and societal norms of the country with a sense of permanency. 
  • Taxation benefits and wealth management

Certain countries offer favorable tax regimes for residents and citizens, including exemptions on foreign income and reduced capital gains taxes. HNWIs consider this an attractive opportunity to solidify their wealth management strategies. By obtaining a second passport, individuals can choose where to become a resident, thereby potentially reducing their overall tax liabilities and protecting their assets further.  

For example, Cyprus has been a popular tax residency choice for many wealthy business owners from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Indian subcontinent. Cyprus’s limited physical residency requirement of 60 days to claim tax residency and having one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe have bolstered its appeal as a second residency or citizenship haven for those looking to limit tax liability and do business. Such opportunities for stronger financial planning can significantly influence HMWIs' decision to seek a second or alternate citizenship. 

Access to healthcare services 

Access to high-quality healthcare services is a motivating factor for HNWIs to seek another passport. Outside of access to advanced healthcare infrastructures, individuals ensure access to comprehensive healthcare services, enhancing the well-being and quality of life for themselves and their families. 

In terms of retirement planning, many individuals seek countries like the UK or Canada, where they will also gain access to free universal healthcare – a benefit that becomes more pertinent when considering age and the rising medical insurance premiums offered through privatized healthcare systems. 

Enhanced business opportunities 

Having a second passport also open doors to enhanced business opportunities and partnerships. Being based in the same country as international business associates and investors fosters a much greater sense of trust and credibility. It also makes in-person meetings feasible, which can be invaluable when establishing rapport; can be critical for business growth and partnerships. As such, many HNWIs will look to gain citizenship or residency in countries that contain global business hubs, such as Hong Kong or Singapore, which also offer various investment and business immigration options. 

With foreign citizenship, HNWIs can expand their business ventures, forge global partnerships, and participate in international trade and commerce with greater ease. Additionally, a second passport facilitates access to global business networks and prestigious international events, providing a platform for in-person networking and collaboration with industry leaders and influencers. 

Finally, having international offices/locations can also strengthen an investor’s personal and professional brand. HNWIs with businesses that they can choose to open or transfer to other countries can legitimately claim to have global presence. This is an attractive proposition for both business owners and business collaborators, as global scale and reach often leads to increased success. 

Retirement planning 

HNWIs often seek second passports for retirement planning purposes. Having citizenship in a second (or even third) country gives them the prospect of a luxurious lifestyle at a fraction of the cost they might incur in their home country. Many countries (especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America) offer a high standard of living, exquisite amenities, and impeccable services at considerably lower prices than other places in the world; U.S. citizens have now become one of the most common applicants for the Portuguese Golden Visa in search for a place to retire with a beautiful Mediterranean climate, luxury, and affordable lifestyle. 

Living in a new country also provides HNWI retirees the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures, explore exotic locations, and engage in unique experiences that might not be readily available in their home country. Ultimately, retiring abroad enables individuals to enjoy a comfortable, culturally enriching, and financially prudent lifestyle in their golden years. 


The trend of high-net-worth individuals seeking second passports and residencies is not showing signs of slowing down and reflects a globalized world where mobility, security, education, business opportunities, taxation benefits, and access to essential services are paramount.  

As political and economic landscapes continue to evolve, develop, and shift, the appeal of a second passport will almost certainly persist among HNWIs, driving them to explore options that offer stability, growth, and prosperity for themselves and their families. Understanding these motives provides valuable insights into the complex decisions made by individuals striving to secure their futures in an ever-changing world.

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About the Author

Preeya Malik
Preeya Malik
Preeya Malik is a qualified immigration lawyer who has obtained her JD in immigration law from University of Toledo, Ohio, and LL.M. in real estate development law from the University of Miami, Florida. Malik has in-depth knowledge of both commercial real estate projects and investment immigration, and has worked in the legal departments of some of the largest developers in the United States. She gained extensive experience in immigration via her roles in various international immigration firms over the past 13 years. She is currently the managing director of Step Global, where she has assisted in successfully raising funds for multi-billion-dollar global projects from investors across the MENA region. Malik has been featured in several publications as a leading name in investment immigration.

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