COVID showed the rich that they can't just go wherever they want, so now millionaires are rushing to get 2nd passports: report

COVID showed the rich that they can't just go wherever they want, so now millionaires are rushing to get 2nd passports: report
Turkey was a stand-out during the pandemic and saw almost 1,000 visa applications per month from wealthy individuals, per London School of Economics professor Kristin Surak.Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images
  • The pandemic is prompting the world's wealthiest people to get a second citizenship, a new report says.
  • Lockdowns shattered the wealthy's belief that their mobility was foolproof, per consultancy Knight Frank.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given the ultra-rich a wake-up call — that their money doesn't guarantee an entry into any country they desire, according to a new wealth report.

As such, ultra-high-net-worth-individuals are now increasingly pursuing citizenships or residencies overseas, London-based consultancy Knight Frank said in its 2023 report released Wednesday.

The firm surveyed 500 bankers, wealth advisors, and family offices that manage a combined $2.5 trillion in assets, and found that at least 13% of respondents who have $30 million or more in assets are planning to apply for a second passport or new citizenship.

"The pandemic made people question the assumption that mobility was assured," Kristin Surak, an associate professor at the London School of Economics, wrote in Knight Frank's report.

Surak highlighted how Americans had difficulty entering other countries during the pandemic, even while they held one of the most powerful passports in the world.


"US citizens have a 'good passport' with many travel privileges, but COVID threw these out the door," Surak wrote.

"The result has been a huge increase in the number of Americans looking into investment migration options," she added.

Many are looking at overseas homes where they can live for a few months per year, or places that offer good healthcare, Surak wrote.

South Korea, Panama, and Malaysia are popular countries investors want to obtain visas for, while Turkey stood out for having nearly 1,000 applications per month from high-net-worth individuals all over the world during the pandemic, she said.

Henley & Partners, another consultancy based in London, also reported in February that US millionaires are looking for the American Dream in countries like Portugal, Malta, Spain, Greece, and Italy, which offer golden visas and migration programs.


These investors, C-suite execs, and entrepreneurs are migrating to future-proof their wealth, "seeking greener pastures for investment and business growth, safer destinations to raise their families," Jeff D. Opdyke, an investment expert who covered finance for 17 years at the Wall Street Journal, wrote in the report.

The firm said millionaires in the US are mainly concerned about political instability, safety concerns, societal conflict, and unpredictable markets.

"Americans are currently experiencing their own bleak 'winter of discontent,'" Mehdi Kadiri, the head of North America at Henley & Partners said in the firm's February report.