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Why South Africans are seeking 2nd passport

Sep 05 2016 18:33
Carin Smith

Cape Town - A concern about safety and security in South Africa is usually the most important reason given by South Africans embarking on an overseas citizenship programme enabling them to obtain a second passport.

This is according to Sandra Woest, senior manager at international residence and citizenship planning company Henley & Partners in South Africa.

Other reasons they often give include wanting more mobility when travelling and greater ease of doing business, especially as entrepreneurs due to not having to apply for visas all the time.

Many applicants say they feel better knowing that if SA is hit by a crisis, they can move. Many others are attracted by good education certain countries offer their children. Many also want a second passport for tax benefits.

It is important to know the difference between having residence in a country and having citizenship, said Woest at a seminar hosted by Henley & Partners in Cape Town.

She explained it using the example of a guest house: Residence means you pay and are allowed to stay as long as you obey the rules. Usually you also have to spend a certain amount of time in the country. Citizenship means you have the right to free access to that house, no-one can ask you to leave and you can stay away as long as you like. Therefore, you have certain rights in that country.

Another important question is, whether you want to uproot your family and emigrate or only obtain a second citizenship without uprooting your family.

Andrew Taylor, group vice chair of Henley & Partners addressed the topic of what Brexit could mean for second citizenship programmes. He pointed out that there is already a possible precedent of Switzerland, which is not an EU member, wanting to restrict free movement, but the EU has indicated it is non-negotiable.

"So, yes, there is a risk that the free movement between the UK and the EU could be restricted, but to me the main question is whether they will restrict free trade," said Taylor.

Iceland and Norway, for instance, are not full members of the EU. They have free trade with certain conditions and have free movement of people.

"The worst case scenario of Brexit would, therefore, be that if you want to live and work in the UK, you could still use the Tier 1 investor visa programme as it is a good programme for the economy," said Taylor.

"And even if they close that down, there are still places like the Channel Islands with legislation offering similar programmes."

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