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Cape Town – There are certain critical factors to address before one embarks on trying to obtain a second passport, Bata Racic, head of sales for the Middle East and Africa at international residence and citizenship planning company Henley & Partners, said at a seminar in Cape Town on Monday.

In general, he said certain Caribbean countries offer citizenship in return for a donation or investments, while the programmes in Europe are generally more difficult to go through, but offer more benefits in the end.

“For people who can afford it, the industry of citizenship programmes has become very popular these days,” said Racic.

“Therefore, think wisely and carefully about which country to choose.”

He suggested basing your choice of country and programme on the following questions:

– Which citizenship programme meets your objectives?
– Is it a sustainable and credible programme?
– Will the programme provide you with peace of mind for a long time?
– Do you have the budget for the programme?
– Would you rather go for a programme where you have to invest or one where you have to donate your wealth?
– What is the time frame for completion of the process – months or years?
– What is the complexity of the application?
– Are there any obligations to fulfil after the issuance of the passport?
– What are the long-term benefits?
– Who is your partner in this journey?

Racic explained that objectives could include wanting a better life, security, a Plan B, better education, safety, a stable legal environment, ease of travel and mobility, to retire in safety and tax benefits.

Examples of the kind of budget needed he gave, included Caribbean programmes requiring donations of between $147 650 (about R2.1m) to $292 800 (about R4.2m) or investments of between $200 000 and $400 000.

European programmes he mentioned included donation requirements of €880 000 in Malta or an investment of €2.5m in Cyprus.

Some citizenship programmes in the Caribbean can take two to six months to be completed, compared to that in Malta taking about 14 months.

He concluded with a last warning: “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait till you hire an amateur.”

This article was first published in Fin24 on 5 September 2016.