A second passport or permanent overseas residency is now the ultimate luxury item for high-net-worth individuals, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations.

The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as his company reports a 45 per cent year-on-year jump in enquiries from individuals across the globe who are seeking citizenship and/or residency outside their country of origin.

Mr Green observes: “Wealthy individuals around the world are now increasingly considering investing in a second citizenship or overseas residency.

“A second passport or elite residency in a host country are now widely perceived by high-net-worth individuals as the ultimate luxury item.

“But perhaps unlike designer jewellery, yachts, supercars, or original artwork, owning government-backed citizenship or residency in another country isn’t merely a status symbol, there are other, further-reaching advantages.”

The deVere CEO continues: “It’s our experience that the majority of high-net-worth individuals and their families wishing to obtain dual citizenship or residency are coming from India, China, South Africa, the Middle East and Russia.

“Typically, they are considering opportunities for citizenship or residency in Europe or the Caribbean.”

He goes on to say: “There are many different reasons why clients are eyeing alternative citizenships and residencies for themselves and their families. These include significantly greater scope for visa-free global travel, political stability, world-class education and healthcare, tax efficiency, and wider business growth opportunities.”

Each host nation country will have different criteria that need to be met, such as how many days need to be spent in the host country. Some requirements are common to all such programs including having a clean criminal record and being able to prove the legal source of funds.

There is a clear distinction between citizenship and residency, with both offering different benefits to the applicant. The main difference is that citizenship, which gives you a passport, is forever unless it was granted under fraudulent means.

James Minns, Head of Global Development, explains: “Most clients will opt for residency in the first instance as it is typically less costly and an easier process to complete – and is a recognised gateway to full citizenship. Plus, some countries like China and India do not recognise dual citizenship, so residency is the only option.

“The investment-for-residency schemes are typically based on real estate investments and start from around 250,000 euros in Greece.”

He continues: “Portugal’s program is proving to be the best option for many clients as it requires only two weeks a year residency obligation. It gives full residency benefits to live, work, open a business and study there with complete access to travel across Europe’s Schengen area. Plus, there is the option of obtaining full citizenship after six years if required.

“This option is a straight real estate purchase of 500,000 euros into a new build property. There are lower property options available, however, they are only for properties over 30 years old and most investors prefer the newer real estate as they typically provide better investment opportunities and are less hassle to maintain.

Nigel Green concludes: “Those exploring what is now considered the ultimate luxury item, regard themselves as global citizens looking to explore opportunities for themselves and their families to live, study, do business and/or retire in a host country.

“With our increasingly globalised world and the growing middle class in many emerging economies, the trend for second citizenship or residency can be expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.”

deVere Group is one of the world’s largest independent advisors of specialist global financial solutions to international, local mass affluent, and high-net-worth clients. It has a network of more than 70 offices across the world, over 80,000 clients and $12bn under advisement.