For any number of reasons, many people consider retiring in another country. A foreign country may offer a lower cost of living, which can be important to seniors with limited retirement savings. Some countries may have especially appealing climates. For some retirees, it may simply be a case of a country they fell in love with during their life travels and vowed to themselves they would one day come back and retire there.
For a person planning to settle down permanently in a foreign country, it is usually desirable to obtain citizenship in that country since it simplifies things such as opening bank accounts and owning property. Some may choose to go for dual citizenship, obtaining a second passport, while others may prefer to dump their U.S. citizenship altogether and simply become citizens of their new home countries.
Some countries allow dual citizenship and some do not. It is no secret that more and more wealthy Americans, feeling their fortunes threatened by oppressive U.S. taxation, have chosen to renounce their U.S. citizenship in favor of becoming citizens of nations such as Singapore or Chile.
There are a number of factors to consider in regard to obtaining new citizenship and a second passport. Among these considerations are how readily your new passport allows visa-free travel, tax and other potential obligations of citizens in your new home country, and financial freedom in regard to opening bank accounts or establishing businesses.
If you have not yet settled on an expat retirement destination, you may wish to consider one of the following five countries where it is relatively easy to obtain citizenship.
1) Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers one of the least expensive and troublesome avenues for retirees to obtain citizenship in a reasonably short period of time. The basic requirement is the retiree must be able to document a stable retirement income of at least $1,500 a month from a source outside the Dominican Republic. Nonretirees have to show minimum monthly income of $2,000 a month. Provided this basic requirement is met, an individual can apply directly for permanent residency. After holding the permanent residency for two years, the individual can then apply for citizenship. The whole process takes about three years and, in 2015, cost approximately $6,000 for residency and citizenship application fees. Making a $200,000 investment can cut the time down to two years, but the investment must be maintained; it cannot be withdrawn until citizenship is granted.
A person can qualify to become a citizen of Ireland by living there for five years continuously. The Irish government may even be willing to waive part of the residency time requirement if you can sufficiently document Irish ancestry or other associations with Ireland. If you happen to have a provable Irish grandparent, you may be able to become an Irish national just by virtue of your ancestry. Becoming a naturalized Irish citizen usually requires continued residency for a number of years.
Peru offers a two-year path to citizenship that requires minimal effort and a small investment. The cost of the two-year fast track to citizenship is $25,000, and it may even be possible to make installment payments on the fee. It is advisable to go through one of a number of agents who can guide you through the process of applying for residency at a Peruvian embassy. Applications for residency are typically approved within three months, after which you have a six-month time period to settle your affairs in your current home country before moving to Peru to finalize your residency visa. You can then apply for citizenship after residing in Peru for two years. Unlike some countries that require you to renounce your previous citizenship to become a citizen, Peru allows dual citizenship.
Singapore offers a simple route to citizenship. First, obtain permanent residency by establishing a business in Singapore, obtaining employment there or marrying a citizen of Singapore. After two years of residency, you can then apply to become a naturalized citizen. One cautionary note: Singapore requires national service from its citizens. If you are of retirement age, you are likely safely outside the age window that obligates you for national service, but if you just won the lottery and are retiring at age 25, you might want to double-check just to make sure you do not have to join the Singapore army for a couple of years. Singapore does not allow dual citizenship. You must renounce your prior citizenship to become a citizen of Singapore.
Canada also offers a simple path to citizenship. You probably need a job in Canada or proof of other income to obtain residency, but after becoming a resident, you can apply for naturalization as a Canadian citizen after four years. The Canadian immigration authorities are, however, very strict about enforcing the resident alien requirements that you actually physically reside in the country for nearly all of the four-year time period, so do not try hopping back and forth between Canada and the United States on a constant basis.