The benefits of having multiple passports

shutterstock_125514998 smallSavvy business and leisure travellers want to make sure they have two passports so that they can make the most of the benefits that dual citizenship provides. This is according to James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, a company specialising in residency and citizenship by investment programmes around the world. “Dual nationals who have more than one passport say that having a choice of which passport to use can be extremely beneficial when travelling, especially when it comes to overcoming visa restrictions and entry requirements.”

According to statistics, it is estimated that only around 1% of the world’s population have two or more passports, making dual citizenship an exclusive privilege. While in the past it was only possible for people to attain dual citizenship through their ancestry or emigration, many countries have now made it possible for applicants to gain citizenship or residency through various investment programmes.

“These residency and citizenship by investment programmes provide an avenue for investors with no links to any countries outside of South Africa to gain residency or citizenship through either a business investment or the purchase of residential property,” explains Bowling. Currently there are several countries offering such programmes such as St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, MauritiusMalta, the USAPortugal, the UK and Cyprus.

The primary advantage to dual citizenship is the ability to travel to and stay in a far wider range of countries with fewer visa requirements and restrictions,” says Bowling. “South Africans typically find travelling abroad difficult due to some of the onerous visa requirements they have to meet. Visa applications are both costly and time consuming, sometimes taking weeks or even months to be processed.” South Africans needing to travel abroad urgently are subjected to paying premiums to fast-track their visa applications in order to be accepted in the foreign country without any hassles. Bowling has gone as far as to say certain employers value employees with dual citizenship as their ability to travel on short notice is not an issue.

Bowling says that many investors are particularly interested in obtaining citizenship in those countries that are members of the European Union (EU), which will make them eligible to carry an EU passport. He notes that as an EU citizen, investors will have the right to free movement, settlement and employment across all member states of the EU.

“An EU passport will allow the holder unrestricted travel throughout the 34 EU member states. Many South Africans incur huge travel inconveniences when travelling abroad owing to the conditions set on them by virtue of the passport that they carry. However, this can be avoided by holding two passports,” says Bowling.

He adds that while holding two passports has many advantages, it is important that they are used correctly to avoid any complications with immigration departments. “Investors must be aware of when to use each of their passports, especially if they are travelling to areas outside of the EU,” says Bowling.

South African passports, for example, are advantageous when travelling to countries such as Seychelles and Mauritius as South Africans receive visas free of charge on entry entitling them to three months’ residency in a calendar year. On the other hand, when travelling to the US or EU, South Africans with dual citizenship should rather use their second passport. This is where the benefit of fewer travel restrictions comes into play as well as the fact that there will more than likely be a visa waiver agreement in place.

Dual passport carriers should always enter and exit one country on the same passport, so for example, South Africans should exit South Africa with their South African passport and enter any one of the EU states with their EU passport. The same applies in reverse when travelling back to South Africa.

“Carrying two passports is beneficial for several of reasons, provided investors take the necessary precautions and research the dual passport policy for the countries that they plan on travelling to,” Bowling concludes.

For more information contact:

South Africa

James Bowling at Monarch & Co on 011 883 9018

West Africa Office (Lagos, Nigeria)

+234 (0) 1454 6929

Jerald Lebechi:

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