The easiest way to get the world’s 6th best passport

On June 5, 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall gave the commencement speech at Harvard University.

This was just two years after the end of World War II, and in this speech, he first proposed giving $12 billion (approximately $170 billion in 2024 dollars) in economic assistance to help rebuild Western European economies ravaged by the war.

But it was about more than just throwing money at the problem.

What became known as the Marshall Plan was also meant to remove trade barriers, increase economic cooperation between countries, and prevent the spread of communism.

Remember, this was at a time when people still widely understood that capitalism was a win/win system where people take risks and work hard to create value and mutual prosperity.

By the 1950s, it was obvious that the Marshall Plan was playing a key role in the recovery of Europe’s economy and laying the foundations for the post-war boom.

It was in this spirit of cooperation— and gratitude for the US— that the US and the Netherlands got together in 1956 to sign the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT). Yes, I chuckled at the acronym too.

The point was to make it easier for Americans to live and invest in the Netherlands, and vice-versa, and it’s still in force today.

The treaty allows US entrepreneurs and freelancers to obtain legal residency in the Netherlands for the purpose of starting a business, with an initial requirement of depositing approximately EUR 4,500 (about $4,900) in a Dutch bank.

In the digital age, this allows a wide range of self-employed professionals, like IT consultants and freelance writers, to easily benefit from DAFT without needing to establish a traditional brick-and-mortar business.

And after five years of total residency, you can apply for Dutch citizenship.

Now, nothing against the Netherlands, but you may not want to live in a place where it rains about half the year. Or a 6+ hour time zone difference from the US might not work for you.

But the same treaty offers an even better deal in the six Dutch territories of the Caribbean— Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Saint Maarten, and Sint Eustatius.

Under the treaty, US citizens are entitled to obtain legal residency in one of these islands without even having to start a local company or invest money.

To maintain your residency, you need to keep closer connections to the island, and cannot leave the country for longer than 12 consecutive months unless it’s for medical reasons.

Plus, this one strategy may allow them to accomplish several goals.

For example, some of the most basic elements of a Plan B include gaining foreign residency and cutting your tax rate.

By gaining this easy residency and moving outside of the US, you could also use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to earn $126,500 tax free in 2024. Double that for married couples, and add the Foreign Housing Exclusion, and you’re talking about well over a quarter million dollars each year you can earn tax free.

And because of the tax rules on these islands, in most cases, you should be able to minimize or even eliminate your taxation there entirely (although you should definitely consult a tax professional who understands your particular situation).

Finally, this strategy puts you on a five year path to be able to naturalize in the Netherlands, which comes with the sixth best passport in the world. That’s an amazing passport to pass down to future generations.

There is a downside however… in order to become a Dutch citizen, you generally must renounce your other citizenships. (They do, however, make exceptions if giving up your original citizenship would create a serious hardship or disadvantage.)

But that’s under current Dutch law. That could change in five years; after all, Germany recently did away with the requirement to renounce other citizenships.

Now, DAFT is obviously not for everyone. But the larger point is that it’s a good way to think about implementing a Plan B to combine multiple benefits of a single strategy.

For a remote worker who wants to move to a warmer climate, obtain a foreign residency, cut their taxes, and gain a second passport, this ticks a lot of boxes.

You may have entirely different goals.

But chances are, you can find ways to craft your own Plan B in a similar manner that allows you to gain multiple benefits from a single action.

For example, we recently wrote about the Greek Golden Visa, which allows you to gain a foreign residency by buying property. It’s a great “back up residency,” since there are minimal requirements to spend time within Greece.

It’s also a way to gain some investment return from your Plan B, by renting out the property when you’re not there. Plus, Greece offers great tax incentives to retirees who move there.

So you could gain a foreign residency now, and use the rental income to pay for the home you plan to retire in.

Even something as simple as contributing to a tax-advantaged retirement account can allow you to employ multiple strategies to not just cut your taxable income, but also save for retirement.

Depending on the structure, you could also gain more control and options over where your retirement money is invested or capitalize a new business from your retirement account without penalties.

There are a lot of tools out there to take back so much of your freedom and prosperity. It makes sense to use them to their full potential.

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