I’m typing this while I’m 35,000 feet in the air flying over South America, a six hour flight from Panama City, Panama to Asuncion, Paraguay. This is my second time visiting both countries, though this time, I have a very specific objective: to get permanent residency in both countries so I can later apply for citizenship and hopefully a passport in at least one of these two nations.
It’s a continuing part of my five flags plan. For my Country B (where I have citizenship but don’t live full-time or have assets) I am currently working on these three countries:
For Panama and Paraguay, I am pursuing citizenship via residency, which will take many years. For Italy, I am pursuing citizenship by ancestry, since my grandparents on my mother’s side were native Italian. This will take about 3-4 years. I also consider Antigua an optional fourth possibility, but only if it’s absolutely necessary, since I’d be getting that passport via investment (i.e. simply buying the passport). That only takes about six months but costs a lot of money, as in well over $100,000. Hopefully I won’t have to resort to that.
My goal is to eventually have two passports in addition to my American passport, for a total of three. This will give me peace of mind that no matter what happens with any country, including the USA in the long-term, my freedom of travel and movement won’t be abated, and I can save a lot of money on taxes later in life. Best of all, I’ll be able to bank internationally at banks and financial institutions that don’t take American customers because of America’s horrible FATCA laws.
This entire process will take 7-10 years, which is fine with me. I plan on living a very long time, and as always, I play the long game. It’s the only game you’re guaranteed to win.
I just spent ten days in Panama going through the process and am about to spend another ten in Paraguay to do it all over again. Here is an update on my experience with everything so far.
First, I had to get all the documents in order. I had to get copies of my birth certificate, criminal background check, power of attorney, and various other things. Then I had to get them “apostilled,” which, to make a long story short, is essentially an international certification. Documents from one country that have been apostilled can be “trusted” by another country.
I had to do this by sending the original documents into my respective state governments, paying a fee, and then getting them returned. This also meant that I needed several “original” documents, so I had to order those as well. There was a lot of mailing back and forth before I left for my trip. Some of the documents were delayed so I had to have Pink Firefly FedEx them from our home all the way to Paraguay, so they would meet me when I arrived from Panama.
Panama’s residency process is a little more complicated than Paraguay’s, which is to be expected, since Panama is a first-world country and Paraguay is not. Panama requires you to set up a personal bank account at a Panamanian bank as well as a Panamanian corporation.
During my ten-day stay in Panama, this is what I accomplished:
- Filed all the paperwork with the local residency attorneys there (who were very good).
- Opened a bank account and put in the minimum deposit ($1500).
- Registered my passport with Panama’s immigration department. This is the first real step in the process and means I am now “ready” to apply for residency.
- Filed several forms with the Panamanian government.
- Started the process of creating my Panamanian corporation.
All this stuff required me to make several visits to the attorney’s office, two visits to the bank, and one very long visit to Panamanian immigration, which took about three hours, even with the help of one of the attorneys who acted as my liaison and interpreter. Had I not had him, I would have literally been there all day, perhaps 7-8 hours or more.
There were a few problems, but most everything went pretty smoothly. The biggest inconvenience I had was that none of my US banks would allow me to make a $1500 Swift wire transfer to an international bank without me being physically located at the US bank. WTF? There were ways to do it, but it would have taken a week or more, and I didn’t have that kind of time.
After making several phone calls to several of my American banks, I finally gave up. I used my various US debit cards and ran around to various ATMs two days in a row and was able to pull out the $1500 in cash needed to open the Panamanian bank account. (Panama uses American dollars, which is fuckin’ awesome.)
When I get back home I’m going to set up a banking system where I can make an international wire transfer anywhere in the world I want, to and from any bank I want, and do it all over the phone or online. I probably should have set that up before I left, but hey, live and learn. It won’t happen again.
Now I wait about 2-3 months for things to get approved. Once that happens, I’ll have to go back to Panama for a few days to sign papers and get my temporary residency card. This is then replaced by a permanent residency card six months later. Fantastic. In the USA, non-citizen residents (the “Green Card”) need to renew their residency once every 10 years. Not in Panama; once you’re a resident, it’s for life. I will then have full residency in Panama for the rest of my life. I will be able to go there as much as I want and stay there for as long as I want without any visa or exit requirements.
Then, I have to wait five years before I can apply for full citizenship and a passport. At that time, my attorney said I may have to spend two to three months in Panama, which is fine with me. The citizenship application usually takes about two years, and then hopefully I get my passport. That means 7.5 years from start to finish.
During my five year waiting period, I have to visit Panama regularly to qualify for citizenship, so I’ve worked that into my long-term five flags travel rotation plan. I have no problem with this; I truly love Panama and enjoy spending time there. Now if it wasn’t so damn hot…
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. A few weeks ago I ran into my first major setback in my five flags plan. I was disappointed, but not surprised.
Right in the middle of doing all of my document pre-work for this trip, my attorneys in Paraguay informed me that their Supreme Court just made a ruling that decreed any non-citizen resident of Paraguay seeking full citizenship (in other words, that passport) would be required to live in Paraguay for at least three years and be gone no more than three months per year.
Fuck. That probably just blew my entire plan for a Paraguayan passport. I have no plans to live in Paraguay for three years, at least not at this stage of my life.
The attorney informed me that there might be some other options, but that they were all “complicated.”
I didn’t change any of my plans. At least I could still get Paraguayan residency. That would be useful to have, and is worth getting, at least for me. The more residencies in key countries I can get, the better it will be for my long-term plans. And, who knows? Perhaps there are some Paraguayan citizenship options I can qualify for, or may be able to qualify for in the future. Residency is always the first step to citizenship, so that’s required no matter what.
I find out more when I arrive in Paraguay and I’ll keep you all posted.
This problem precisely demonstrates why I am pursing citizenship in multiple countries instead of just one. Spending years of your time going after citizenship for just one country that can change its laws at any time is just stupid. You’ve got to spread that risk over several countries. I’m going after three, maybe four, to get one or two. I expect problems.
A core Alpha Male 2.0 concept is redundancy. Multiple businesses instead of just one. Multiple streams of income instead of just one. Multiple women instead of just one. And, in five flags, multiple countries instead of just one. If I had just been working on Paraguay this entire time and no other countries, I would have been severely disappointed. But instead, I just frowned for a few minutes and then proceeded as normal. Redundancy works, folks.
Anything important requires more than one.
More to updates on this five flags journey to come.