If you’re looking to get a second citizenship in another country, few countries offer instant citizenship. However, there are many countries with options for getting citizenship in just a few years.
Having a second citizenship can be a great Plan B or even Plan A. It can help you protect yourself from declining governments and high taxes. A second citizenship will give you a second passport that can possibly expand your travel opportunities.
There are plenty of benefits and multiple ways to get citizenship. Having citizenship in a country also means that you will always have access to that country. If you are looking to live a nomadic lifestyle and want to travel from place to place, having multiple citizenships will guarantee that you will be able to travel to your country of citizenship.
Most countries aren’t going to just hand you citizenship and a passport, but there are some countries where you can get a second citizenship quickly.
But which countries have the fastest citizenship programs?
And are there true instant citizenship countries?
In this article, we’ll cover
- Ways to Get a Second Citizenship
- Fast Citizenship and Instant Citizenship
- Permanent Residency
- Specific countries with fast citizenship
HOW TO GET A SECOND CITIZENSHIP
There are multiple ways to get a second citizenship. Doing so usually requires that you offer something to that country, which translates into one of three categories: family connection, money, or time.
In many countries, at least one of these five options is available to folks looking to earn a second passport, although not all guarantee instant citizenship:
- Citizenship by descent – If you have a parent or even a grandparent who was born in a foreign country, you may qualify for citizenship by descent. This fits into the family connection category and may take some time for processing and getting all the paperwork together, but won’t take as long as some naturalization programs. You may have to pay a few fees, but it will be cheaper than getting citizenship by investment. Basically, if you have a direct relative who has citizenship in a country, you can qualify for citizenship by blood (Jus sanguinis.)
- Citizenship by investment – This allows you to invest money into a country – via real estate, business, donation, bonds, or other options depending on the country’s laws – and receive citizenship in return. Citizenship by investment doesn’t come cheap (think hundreds of thousands of dollars), but this is one of the fastest ways to get a second citizenship quickly. This fits into the money connection. It may be expensive, but by paying more money you don’t have to spend as much time or have a family connection. Citizenship by investment allows you to fast track your citizenship process. Countries with the option are some of the closest things to instant citizenship countries, taking only months before you will have your second citizenship.
- Marriage – Many countries will let you apply for citizenship if you marry a citizen of that country. Some require that you live in the country for a number of years after the marriage, while others will give you your second citizenship instantly. This fits into the family connection. This is a cheaper option than citizenship by investment. However, some countries will only grant you residence through marriage, rather than citizenship, so be aware of the rules.
- Naturalization – Naturalization is citizenship you get after moving to a country and living there for a certain period of time. This fits into the time category and is a great option if you don’t have a family connection and cannot afford to pay a great sum of money. This can be one of the slowest processes, and there are some countries that will never grant you citizenship no matter how long you live there, but there are some countries where you can get a second citizenship in only two years.
- Other – There are a few other options for getting citizenship. It varies from country to country. You can get citizenship through special circumstances. For instance, if the President of Albania decides you can be a citizen, they can waive any naturalization requirements and make you a citizen instantly. This doesn’t happen in many places or for many people. Another different way to get citizenship is by giving birth in a country. For instance, if you give birth in Brazil, your child is born a natural Brazilian citizen and you get citizenship too.
FAST CITIZENSHIP AND INSTANT CITIZENSHIP
In this article, we’re going to primarily focus on how to get citizenship through naturalization.
Instant citizenship countries don’t really exist, especially through naturalization. No country is going to give you a free second citizenship and second passport as soon as you move there.
These countries want some kind of evidence that they are going to get something out of you. In the case of citizenship by investment – the closest thing to instant citizenship – you’re giving them a donation or investing in the country in some way.
Conversely, citizenship via naturalization shows that you are willing to spend time in the country and contribute to the country in that way.
The countries we discuss in this article are the closest to instant citizenship countries you can find, at least through naturalization. We are going to go through these countries by how many years it takes to qualify to apply for citizenship.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t count the process of actually getting the second citizenship after you’ve applied or the amount of time it takes to qualify for residency. Some countries are more efficient than others and can process your application and get you your second citizenship in a few months. Other countries may take over a year.
When it comes to citizenship via naturalization, permanent residency is key. Permanent residency allows you to live in a country but is not the same as citizenship. As a permanent resident, you will often be given a lot of benefits in the country but won’t have all the rights of a citizen.
Most importantly, permanent residence is often the final step before qualifying to apply for citizenship.
Similar to citizenship, there are multiple ways to become a permanent resident. These typically require that you have a family or business connection to the country, spend time in the country, or invest money into the country.
For each country on this list, we will briefly discuss some of the options and requirements for permanent residency. The amount of time that you must spend as a permanent resident in the country is what is included in the bolded number at the top.
This does not take into account the amount of time spent getting permanent residency. It starts counting once your permanent residence has already been obtained.
Notable Cities: Lima and Arequipa
You can apply for Peruvian citizenship after two consecutive years of residence. In order to get Peruvian citizenship, you will also have to pass a language and history test. (You don’t have to take this test if you marry a Peruvian.)
Qualifying for residence in Peru is harder now than it has been in the past. You can receive a permanent residence permit by starting a business or making an investment, but there are strict rules for your business and the investment price has gone up.
A much longer way is to live in Peru for three years on a temporary visa and then apply for permanent residence.
Once you have a residence permit in Peru, it will last you five years. You then can renew it for another five years. However, if you apply for citizenship after two years of residence, you should be a citizen of Peru before your residence permit would expire.
Peru is a great location for nomads. It has a low cost of living and beautiful scenery including beaches, mountains, and rainforest. Peru is currently open and welcoming to foreigners. There is plenty to do in Lima. However, be aware that Peru doesn’t have low taxes, especially if you stay there for a long time.
Notable Cities: Santo Domingo and Cabarete
The Dominican Republic allows you to apply for Dominican Republic citizenship after two years of permanent residency. You can apply for permanent residency after five years of temporary residency. A temporary residence permit must be renewed each year.
You can fast track your residence (speed up the process) by investing $200,000 into real estate or into a business. A permanent residence in the Dominican Republic lasts two years and can be renewed.
The Dominican Republic also has an option for citizenship by investment. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest citizenship by investment programs in the whole world.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Dominican Republic every year and enjoy their beaches. It’s a beautiful country with a high standard of living.
A Dominican Republic passport will also give you access to 135+ countries. Between this, the short wait time, and low investment prices, the Dominican Republic is definitely a place to look to get citizenship.
Notable Cities: Montevideo, Atlantida, and Piriapolis
You can apply for citizenship in Uruguay after three years of permanent residency. Uruguay requires that you prove to have substantial ties to the country before you can get Uruguay citizenship. Substantial ties can include having family in Uruguay, owning real estate there, or even joining a social club.
To become a permanent resident in Uruguay, you need to have a decent income. Once you receive residency, you only have to wait three years to apply for Uruguay citizenship. However, this applies to married couples and families. If you are single, you can apply for Uruguay citizenship after five years. This has to do with the substantial ties requirement.
There are a lot of great areas in Uruguay for nomads and expats to live in, such as Montevideo, Atlantida, Piriapolis, and Punta Del Este. Montevideo is a great tech-friendly location, which can be perfect for any nomads who do all their work remotely through the internet. At the same time, it is a bit pricier to live there.
Notable Cities: Toronto and Vancouver
You can become a Canadian citizen after three years of residency. You need to have a permanent residency and spend three out of the last five years in the country (1095 days). This does not have to be a consecutive 1095 days.
If you have a permanent residency in Canada, you are required to spend two years out of a five year period in the country, otherwise, you will lose your permanent residency. By just spending one extra year of that time in Canada, you can qualify to apply for citizenship.
There are many ways to get a permanent residency in Canada, including the Express Entry System, The Provincial Nominee Program, and the Family Sponsorship Visa.
The Express Entry System allows you to apply to live and work in Canada. It does not require that you already have a job lined up. After filling out the forms, there is a six to eight-month processing period. However, you aren’t guaranteed to be given residency. Your form will be ranked against other applicants. The highest-ranked applicants are chosen every two weeks and given residence.
The Provincial Nominee Program was made to get people to come to Canada to work. Each province has a list of jobs that have shortages. If you are qualified for one of the jobs on the list, you can apply to receive Provincial Nomination. Being included on this list can add points to your Express Entry form and raise your chances of receiving permanent residency.
A Family Sponsorship Visa allows Canadian citizens and residents over 18 years old to sponsor a relative, spouse, common-law partner, or dependent to work and live in Canada. If you are related to a Canadian citizen or marry a Canadian, they can sponsor you, giving you a permanent residency. After spending three years in the country you qualify to apply for Canadian citizenship.
Canada has one of the best passports to get quickly, giving you a lot of travel options. Canada is by far the largest country on this list in physical size. It is also a well-known and well-developed Western country. However, Canada is also a high tax country. Moving to Canada isn’t going to help you save as much money on taxes as some of the other countries on this list will.
Notable Cities: Yerevan
You can become an Armenian citizen after three years of permanent residence. If you are applying for Armenian citizenship through naturalization, you are required to be proficient in Armenian and pass a test on the Armenian constitution.
You can get permanent residency in Armenia if you have a spouse or relative who is an Armenian citizen. You can also get permanent residence in Armenia by investing in or starting a business in Armenia. There is also an option to invest in Armenia real estate to receive permanent residence.
Armenia is an up and coming country in Eastern Europe. In recent years, Armenia has become a great location for offshore banking. Many Armenian banks welcome foreign customers and investors. Armenia has also developed a tech scene as their technology center has grown.
Notable Cities: Gdansk and Warsaw
Getting Polish citizenship can be quick, but only if you meet the right circumstances, these circumstances being marriage. If you marry a Polish citizen, you can get a Polish passport and citizenship after three years. For at least two of the three years after your marriage, you are required to live in Poland.
It is only through marrying a Polish citizen that you can fast-track your naturalization process. If you are not married to a Polish citizen, the naturalization process will take a lot longer.
If you live as a permanent resident of Poland and are not married to a Polish citizen, you can apply for Polish citizenship after living there for 3 to 10 years. In order to apply, you must also have a stable regular income and own or rent an apartment or house in Poland.
You must actually live in Poland during this time. You cannot receive a permanent residence, live somewhere else, and then apply after three years. That just won’t work.
To receive a permanent residency, you must either be married to a Polish citizen or have lived in Poland on a temporary residency permit for at least five years. Permanent residence in Poland must be renewed every 10 years as long as you are a permanent resident. A temporary residence permit can last one to three years and can be renewed. These permits can be given for work, business, or family connections.
Moving to Poland will put you right in Europe. Poland is part of the Schengen Area, which will give you access to other countries in the area. So, if your heart is set on European travel, Poland might be the option for you.
Poland also has a low cost of living when compared to many of its neighboring European countries. However, you need to remember that the naturalization process takes a lot longer if you aren’t marrying a Polish citizen.
Notable Cities: Buenos Aires and La Plata
For many years, Argentina offered citizenship after two years of residency. This process has changed in recent years.
Currently, it takes two years of temporary residence in Argentina to qualify for a permanent residence. It then takes three or more years of permanent residency in Argentina before you can apply for Argentinan citizenship by naturalization.
This means that to get citizenship in Argentina, it will take at least five years of residence there.
Buenos Aires – nicknamed the “Paris of the South”- has been a popular spot for nomads. The city is bustling with a diverse population and plenty of things to do. However, Argentina has talked about passing more tax laws, so be wary.
INSTANT CITIZENSHIP COUNTRIES: CAPE VERDE
Notable Cities: Praia
Cape Verde is one of the few nations in the world that offers an instant citizenship option. You can get instant citizenship in Cape Verde if you marry a Cape Verde citizen. You don’t have to spend time in the country or pay a crazy expensive fee.
Many other countries will give you a temporary or permanent residence if you marry a citizen of their country. After that, you will need to live in that country for years before you can apply for citizenship. This is not the case in Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, located west of Senegal. The official language is Portuguese. Cape Verde also has a citizenship by investment program that requires an investment of $200,000 or more USD into a Cape Verde business or Cape Verde real estate.
You can also apply for citizenship by naturalization in Cape Verde after residing in Cape Verde for five years.
IS THIS CITIZENSHIP LEGIT?
Many websites still advertise the Argentina citizenship process as a two-year program. This is why it’s super important to do your research. Double-check on anything that sounds too good to be true.
You can find more accurate information on official government websites. They’ll tell you what you need to qualify for citizenship in their country or if obtaining citizenship is even possible.
There are plenty of legitimate ways to move overseas. There’s no reason you should be looking for loopholes or moving illegally. Once you find where you want to be, it’s possible to get a residence or citizenship that will allow you to stay. You don’t have to be stuck where you are.
These are some of the quickest naturalization processes in the world, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to invest any time. If you are not willing to spend the time in these countries or have no desire to live in any of them, then this isn’t the list for you.
At the same time, if you do not have a direct family connection or the money to spend to “buy” citizenship, this is probably your best option. This can be an especially great option for any young entrepreneur who is just starting a nomad lifestyle.
Because these citizenships do require you to spend some time in these countries, it’s better to get moving now rather than later. The longer you wait, the longer it will be until you get that second citizenship.
There are very few options for instant citizenship countries. If you want a second citizenship soon, start working on it now.