Visa-free travel opens doors for dual citizens

Frequent international travellers and business people who currently do not have a dual citizenship and are travelling on their green South African passport will know that there are very limited countries that South Africans can enter without having the necessary visa in place, says James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, a company specialising in residency and citizenship by investment programmes around the world.

“Those who travel outside of South Africa’s borders often will understand the arduous process of having to apply for visas to travel to most countries. The process of applying for a visa can entail reams of paperwork, face-to-face interviews, costly fees and admin to possibly be denied access to a certain country or have very limited access in terms of the period they are allowed to stay in that country,” says Bowling.

He notes that there are currently approximately 97 countries around the world that South Africans are able to travel to without the need of a visa, which ranks the South African passport 41 on the Visa Restriction Index. “While 97 countries may seem like a lot, and includes most African countries, visa free travel to many of these countries is only permitted if the traveller is going there on holiday. When it comes to travelling for business purposes or even volunteer work, some form of visa will be required and certain restrictions will be put in place,” says Bowling. “While almost all of South and Central America is open to South Africans, along with parts of Asia and the Middle East, travellers going to North America, Canada, Australia or most of Europe, will have to apply for visas before they leave, often weeks or even months in advance.”

For business people who want to have complete unrestricted travel with the ability to be able to conclude business in the world’s financial capitals, a dual citizenship would be extremely beneficial and will open the doors to many previously restricted countries. “A great number of international travel obstacles can be overcome with a dual citizenship and having more than just a South African passport. Dual nationals are able to bypass most visa restrictions and are able to stay in countries for as long as their business requires,” says Bowling.

He adds that while dual citizenship was restricted to the few who could attain it through either their ancestry or emigration, many countries have now made it possible for applicants to gain citizenship or residency through various investment programmes. “Essentially what this means is that through either a business investment or the purchase of residential property, investors now have the opportunity to gain a residency or citizenship in a number of countries outside of South Africa that they previously had no links to,” explains Bowling, who adds that presently there are several countries offering residency or citizenship programmes such as St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, MauritiusMalta, the USAPortugal, the UK and Cyprus.

A particularly popular choice for investors is a dual citizenship that offers them the opportunity to carry a European Union (EU) passport, because as an EU citizen a person has the right to free movement, settlement and employment across all member states of the EU. “As an EU citizen, an investor can live and work in a member state with the same lifestyle benefits as a person who has been born in that country. This gives them the opportunity to improve their lifestyles through better access to basic services such as health and education, as well as more select criteria such as sporting facilities, natural environment and the like,” says Bowling.  Investors can make use of a residency or citizenship programme, and will never be required to emigrate.

“Carrying two passports is advantageous for several of reasons and can have a positive impact on the quality of life that an investor and their family enjoy,” he concludes.