The Ultrawealthy Are Spending Millions to Get Second Passports From Luxury Destinations Around the World

View of Paphos with the Orthodox Cathedral of Agio Anargyroi, Cyprus

The world's wealthiest are concocting doomsday plans due to the coronavirus pandemic and the current political climate. For many, the first step is securing a second citizenship — which can cost upward of $2 million.

There are a number of "Citizenship by Investment" programs all over the world, and they've seen dramatic increases in applications recently.

Business Insider's Graham Rapier previously reported that Henley & Partners, a London-based passport broker, has seen a 42% uptick in citizenship applications across the board this year.

Demand is particularly high in the tiny European nations of Montenegro and Cyprus, according to CNN, both emergent luxury destinations that provide access to the EU. Montenegro has seen a 142% spike in applications amid the pandemic and Cyprus has seen a 75% spike.

Montenegro, which sits on the Adriatic Sea and is roughly the size of Connecticut, has been called "the next French Riviera," Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported. Cyprus, a Mediterranean island and boating aficionado's paradise, also offers waterfront views and glitzy accommodations.

The baseline cost for secondary citizenship in Cyprus is roughly $2.5 million, while the baseline cost in Montenegro is significantly lower, at $294,000.

Cyprus is a current EU member and Montenegro aspires to join, yet their reported links to international money laundering — sometimes through visa programs — have brought their current or future membership status into question.

In March 2019, the EU gave Montenegro until the end of the year to increase its tax transparency or be blacklisted. And in 2020, Cyprus announced plans to tighten its "citizenship by investment" program requirements after European authorities warned it's vulnerable to exploitation by criminals, per OCCRP, the non-governmental organization that was involved in reporting on the Panama Papers.

Interest in passport purchasing is likely to continue surging. Nuri Katz, the founder of financial advisory firm Apex Capital Partners, estimated to CNN that roughly 5,000 people acquired citizenship through investment programs in 2017 — this year, he puts that figure at 25,000.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.

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