Warren Buffett has famously quipped that his preferred holding period for an investment is “forever.” Once he zeroes in on a great business and buys a huge stake in the company, he never wants to sell. Ever.
This concept of long-term investing is simple to understand but hard to put into practice.
We humans are emotional creatures. And more often than not, wild market swings and economic crises cause us to swoon, panic, and make bad decisions. When the stock market tanks, people feel compelled to sell… even though the business they invested in is still fundamentally strong. Very few people have the discipline to stick with a winner, and to hold a great asset so long-term that future generations can enjoy the returns of that single investment.
But there’s one investment you can make that’s easy to hold forever, and something you can pass on to your children and grandchildren for generations to come. It’s not a stock or bond or private business. It’s not even a financial asset at all.
I’m talking about a second passport.
A second passport is an exceptional investment.
It provides greater travel options, business and financial opportunities, new lifestyle possibilities. And it ensures that, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen next, you and your family will always have another place to go where you are welcomed with open arms to live, work, invest, and do business.
Just like owning gold as a great insurance policy for your wealth, a second passport is an insurance policy for your lifestyle.
And unlike financial assets (which investors tend to sell when they become emotional), a second passport is a “forever investment”. Once you have it, it’s generally yours forever. And future generations of your family who won’t be born for decades will receive the same benefits because of the investment you made today.
What kind of investment does it take? In many cases, not much.
Sure, there are some people who have paid up to $2,362,637 to obtain a second passport through Citizenship-by-Investment programs.
These are completely legal, official programs in a number of countries where the government awards qualifying investors a passport in exchange for a particular investment or donation in the country.
The most expensive Citizenship-by-Investment programs are to acquire European passports, but there are other programs around the world (primarily in the Caribbean) where you can obtain a passport for $100,000.
Obviously $100,000 is a much more reasonable investment. But there are even easier ways. If you’re willing to invest a bit of your own time, you can see if you may already be eligible for a second passport through your own family history– if you have Italian, Polish, or Irish ancestry.
But even if you aren’t part of the lucky bloodline club, you can still obtain a valuable European passport by investing your time.
Most countries in the world provide a path to citizenship for foreigners who obtain legal residency and live in the country for a certain number of years… though the requirements vary significantly from place to place. There are some countries (like the United Arab Emirates) where a foreigner must be a legal resident for up to 30 years or more before being eligible to apply for naturalization.
But there are many countries that have far more palatable requirements.
Portugal is a great example:
First off, there are so many ways to obtain residency in Portugal; the country is incredibly welcoming to foreigners, and they really want talented people to move there.
They’ve eliminated a lot of the red tape and bureaucracy for foreigners to apply for immigration visas, and there are so many options available.
You could qualify for residency by starting a business, purchasing a property, retiring there (and demonstrating sufficient financial means to support yourself), or even being a self-employed online worker.
Once you obtain residency, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization and Portuguese citizenship after five years; but you only need to spend a few months per year in Portugal to qualify.
A Portuguese passport is a fantastic travel document. It gives you visa-free access to 159 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and all of the European Union.
That means that as a Portuguese citizen, you can live, work, start a business, study or retire anywhere you want in Europe without a visa.
Portugal is also a great place to live. For entrepreneurs and retirees, it offers the best of both worlds – low cost of living and all-around great weather, combined with an increasingly thriving start-up scene.
So you could obtain residency in Portugal, continue to spend most of your time in your home country, but spend the cold winter months in sunny Portugal (where temperatures can reach 20C/68F in January/February). And perhaps spend some time in the summers there on the beach.
Clearly you wouldn’t be suffering.
And after a few years of this, you’d be eligible to apply for naturalization and obtain a second passport for Portugal.
Portugal isn’t alone– there are a number of great options out there.
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.