Nearly 60 per cent of applications for second citizenship or second residence come from the Middle East, according to a report released today.
The joint study between Wealth-X and Arton Capital found that Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan had the highest number of Ultra High Net Worth (individuals with more than $30 million in net assets) second citizenship applicants, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the global total.
Europe was found to be the most popular destination for UHNW second citizenship, with nearly half of worldwide applications.
“The majority of people applying for second citizenship are in the Middle East, Europe is closer to them and represents a lot of more security than the Caribbean and a better long term investment in residency or citizenship,” Armand Arton, president and CEO of Arton Capital told Gulf Business.
In Europe Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria and Hungary offer a clear path to residence and citizenship, although they’re schemes are more expensive than other regions.
“The cheapest option is the Commonwealth of Dominica right now. For a single application there is a required donation of $100,000, so there is nothing in business. The highest is Cyprus and Malta at the top the list where it costs millions of Euros to gain citizenship.”
Advantages second citizenship offers to families include stability, and security, tax efficiency, ease of travel, a higher standard of living, increased options for their children’s education and more widespread investment opportunities, according to the report.
“The reality is the world is complicated place these days, there is a lot of risk, especially for individuals who have some capital. Governments do change and they look at them differently from time to time,” said Mykolas Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X.
“There are also great opportunities for business men and women from around the world to look at new geographies in ways they haven’t before. A lot of times those are substantially helped by getting involved in investor programmes that you have to do to be able to enter those markets.”
The average net worth of a second citizen applicant, at $205 million, is well above the global UHNW average of $135 million, with billionaires found to be five times more likely to apply.
Applicants also had nearly double the $35 million average liquidity, at $65 million, meaning they can easily meet requirements for citizenship or immigrant investor programmes.
The savings gains from participation in these schemes “can be immense” according to the report, with a UHNW individual moving from the US to Dubai able to save nearly $1 million on capital gains tax alone.
The 200,000 UHNW individuals globally are worth a collective $27,770 billion, with billionaires accounting for 1 per cent of individuals and 23 per cent, or $6.5 trillion of wealth, according to Wealth-X data. By 2020 the billionaire population is expected to grow 80 per cent, increasing by 1,700 individuals.