The possibility of World War III is a concerning topic for many people around the world. While hoping for peace, it is pragmatic to think about how to protect yourself and your loved ones if such an unthinkable event were to occur. An important consideration is what passports would provide the most options for safe travel and settlement abroad.
One of the most important qualities to look for in a passport is neutrality. The countries that are likely to be combatants and major targets in a large-scale war are ones like the US, China, Russia, the UK, France and other major military powers. Citizens of those countries could face discrimination, restrictions and danger. A passport from a neutral and unaligned country is less likely to attract negative attention.
Some examples of traditionally neutral countries include Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and certain South American nations like Argentina and Brazil. Ireland in particular has a long history of neutrality, not being part of NATO or other major alliances. The Irish passport is widely accepted around the world. Being from a friendly, neutral country like Ireland can make a big difference in how you are welcomed across borders in turbulent times.
Small island nations in the Caribbean and South Pacific also tend to be non-aligned and inoffensive to most other countries. Passports from places like St. Lucia, Vanuatu and others can provide relative anonymity and freedom of movement. The same goes for micro-states like Monaco. By investing in citizenship programs, it is possible to obtain passports from several of these neutral countries.
Another key factor is avoiding mandatory military conscription. Some countries still have laws that require men to serve in the military, which could be enforced during war time. This affects certain European countries like Switzerland and Austria. However, there are sometimes exemptions for investor immigrants and expats, so it’s worth examining the fine print.
On the other hand, Ireland and many other neutral countries do not have compulsory conscription. You want to be sure that your passport will allow you to leave freely and not compel you to fight in a conflict you wish to avoid. The ability to travel safely as a tourist, expatriate or dual citizen is a top priority.
Visa Access and Business Considerations
It’s also beneficial to hold passports that allow visa-free travel to as many countries as possible. This provides more options for where to go in times of conflict. The top passports for global visa access include Ireland and countries like Canada, Switzerland and several EU member states.
If you run an international business, consider passports that won’t lead to sanctions or restrictions that could disrupt your work. For example, if you hold an Iranian passport, you may struggle to access international banking, financing and partnerships even if you don’t live in Iran. Again, neutral and inoffensive passports facilitate business continuity.
Backup Plans and Contingencies
Ideally, your passport portfolio would include two or more citizenships – your original nationality, plus one or more neutral passports acquired through ancestry, residency or investment. This provides backup options in case travel on one passport becomes difficult.
It’s also prudent to secure residence rights in safe foreign countries before turmoil arises. As a dual citizen, you can apply for residence permits and status in your secondary country of citizenship well in advance.
For instance, an American investor could potentially get Irish citizenship through ancestry. They could then move to Ireland and acquire residence rights before tensions escalate. Irish residence and EU rights would provide contingencies if travel as an American becomes restricted.
Where to Go in a World War?
So which passports offer the best options should war break out? Here are some of the top contenders:
Ireland issues passports to individuals born in Northern Ireland and their descendants under the island’s Good Friday Agreement. Even people with an Irish grandparent may qualify. Ireland has been neutral in foreign policy since the 1930s. They maintain cordial relations worldwide as a non-threatening small state. Irish citizens can freely work and reside anywhere in the EU. Ireland also has strong links to the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US. An Irish passport means options to escape to Europe, North America, or points farther afield.
Famed for its neutrality, Swiss passports provide excellent global access along with special privileges within the EU. Switzerland stays on good terms with all major powers and rarely takes sides in foreign disputes. Swiss citizens can live and work flexibly across Europe while also maintaining strong ties to the United States and other nations. Switzerland’s network of embassies and consulates across the world offer support to citizens abroad even during conflict.
This Asian city-state maintains positive relations worldwide and espouses trade openness. Singapore has embassies in almost every country and visa-free arrangements with much of the world. It is also an international transportation hub. Singapore does have mandatory military service for certain male citizens. However, those who have fulfilled service obligations, are medically ineligible, or hold dual citizenship can be exempted. The only downside of Singaporean citizenship is the taxes payable on worldwide income.
The United Arab Emirates offer a Middle Eastern option with few restrictions globally. The UAE stays clear of foreign interventions and maintains decent ties even with adversaries like Iran and Russia. UAE passport holders can enter 174 countries without a visa. With citizenship available in under six months by investing around $700,000 in property, the UAE appeals as a quick second passport. Just be ready for the desert heat.
5. St. Kitts & Nevis
For a Caribbean passport, the Island Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis is an attractive choice. Since 1984, St. Kitts has run a citizenship-by-investment program requiring only a one-time $150,000 contribution. Their passports enjoy visa-free access to nearly 160 countries worldwide. St. Kitts & Nevis maintain cordial ties with the US, keep good relations across the Americas, and stay neutral regarding global rivalries. The main drawback is taxes – citizens pay on worldwide income over $50,000.
The Bottom Line
Holding a second or third passport as a plan B for a world war scenario is a prudent move. Carefully research countries that are consistently neutral, open to foreigners, and geopolitically irrelevant. Small nations that rely on tourism and investment rather than saber rattling make the safest options. Diversify backup plans across continents. Look at residence and citizenship opportunities today to establish maximum flexibility. With creativity and foresight, crafting an emergency exit strategy is possible. Just be sure to walk softly and carry a couple of alternate passports.
Safe Havens in Neutral Countries
Some nations are less likely to get sucked into a major war due to their size, geographic location, or political priorities. Having alternate citizenship or residency rights in neutral countries can provide insurance in turbulent times. Here are some attractive options:
- Switzerland – Renowned for neutrality, direct democracy, and stability. Easy access to live and work in the EU.
- Ireland – Official policy of military neutrality since 1939. Passport provides backup rights in UK and EU.
- Singapore – Advanced economy and transport hub. Visa-free entry to much of the world. Not involved in military alliances.
- Uruguay – Peaceful South American nation away from main conflict zones. Already popular with expats.
- Costa Rica – No standing army since 1949. The original “Switzerland of Central America”. Warm and welcoming.
- Iceland – No membership in military alliances. Limited strategic value makes it less likely to be targeted.
Taxes a Factor with Second Citizenship
Some countries levy taxes based on citizenship rather than residence. This is an important consideration when obtaining a second passport. Options like St. Kitts & Nevis and Portugal only tax locally sourced income. But Singapore, Estonia, and the US tax worldwide income regardless of where you live. Research tax rules to avoid surprises.
Other Ways to Reduce Risk
There are other steps beyond passports that individuals and families can take to protect themselves in troubled times:
- Move assets offshore to keep holdings safe in foreign jurisdictions.
- Invest overseas in property and business ventures for greater diversification.
- Store wealth in stable foreign currencies and physical precious metals.
- Establish dual residency by spending time abroad in different countries every year.
- Secure alternative forms of ID such as foreign driver’s licenses and residence cards.
- Maintain an up-to-date will and powers of attorney for your global assets and heirs.
- Keep sufficient funds accessible outside your country of citizenship to finance an emergency exit.
- Discuss contingency plans for family members to meet overseas if needed.
- Stay informed on global events and be ready to act when signs of crisis emerge.
A world war is still an unlikely event that hopefully remains only a worst-case scenario. Nevertheless, difficult times can arise quickly, and preparation helps individuals control their own destiny. There are prudent, legal steps within reach of many people to expand options and reduce risks even if the global order deteriorates. Neutral passports are a wise insurance policy for yourself and your loved ones.