When my husband and I moved to Paris, the only real motivating factor was that we wanted to live in the city. I’d wanted to move back since I left at 18, and Harry was looking forward to a change of pace from Panama, where he’d been stationed for 10 years.
When researching residency options, we gave thought to several strategies before settling on the route we took.
The first was to make last-ditch efforts to secure the Irish passport I should have gotten living in Ireland as a child (Lief often refers to this as one of his biggest failures and regrets over the years). While the rest of my family all got this coveted EU travel document, I was left out due to a lack of understanding of what was needed to attain it for me. I was a resident for longer than the prescribed time, but, because of administration hiccups, I ended up leaving after seven years with nothing more than the U.S. passport I’d arrived in on.
Harry and I got in touch with Irish attorneys and immigration services to see if I could get it retroactively somehow… or through virtue of my family having theirs. Nope. No dice.
Next we gave some thought to establishing residency in Portugal. That country makes it easy for Americans to stake a claim, and the options are generally affordable. We could have done so by proving a monthly income had we wanted to actually live there for some time… but, for long-term living, we already had our hearts set on Paris.
Another option in Portugal, though, is to make an investment. This requires you to be in the country a mere week in the first year and two weeks in subsequent years. Not a bad obligation to have to schedule an annual Portugal vacation, we figured…
Problem was we wanted our capital freed up to buy a family home before too long. If we spent all our savings on a Portugal investment, we could have cornered ourselves into renting long term in Paris and missing out on a good purchase opportunity…
So we went with the simplest (though not necessarily most beneficial option): official French residency.
Again, to begin with, we had no goals in mind beyond living in the City of Light…
Time To Think About Residency
Now, though, nearly a year into our move, we realize that if we’re putting down roots here, even if only in the short or medium term, we should really get those EU passports that have eluded us for so long. You only need five years of residency in France to become eligible for French passports, so going for them seems like a no-brainer.
With a bun in the oven, though, I can’t help but think about the implications for our kid(s). Not getting that Irish passport left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’d rather not wind up with my progeny in the same boat if we can help it.
Our little girl will be an American no matter what, just because she was born to American parents. She’ll have the IRS hanging over her head even if we manage to get her French citizenship.
By the time we’re seeking our own citizenships, she’ll be six. She’ll have no claim to a French passport simply by having been born here… nor by her parents being citizens… nor by having lived here for more than five years at that point in her life.
She would only be eligible to seek citizenship at the age of 13 assuming she was born here and if she had lived in France primarily since the age of 8.
When all is said and done, we may be happy to stay in France beyond those years and we may well stay on for her to become eligible. But if we’d like to up stakes at that point (or in any of the subsequent years), would the compromise be worth it? Unfortunately, she won’t yet have the capacity to be able to weigh in on the decision when it gets made…
One thing I know: I resent having to wait in the U.S. passport line when entering Europe while the rest of my family breezes through the EU line. And I’d rather not have to continue waiting in the U.S. line with my daughter when I could (finally) opt for the EU line.
Perhaps making life decisions based on waiting in lines isn’t the most responsible. But it’s when I’m stuck in a line that I’m reminded about the things I’m missing out on by not having my Irish/EU passport.
Interested in seeking a second residency and/or citizenship for yourself or your family?
Do yourself a favor and get all the info you can ahead of time. Weigh all the options that you know to be available while thinking through every possible outcome and consequence—there are always many.
Honestly, there will probably always be surprises and regrets, but the more you prepare yourself, the less likely those outcomes are.
And, even if you do get into one of these less-than-ideal situations, the key is understanding the fallout. And knowing the next-best step to take.
It’s all about knowledge…
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And this is exactly the kind of precious knowledge that was shared during Lief’s Offshore Wealth Summit last week. I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s event in Panama (I’m done with standing in immigration lines for at least a few more months). If you weren’t able to be in the room either, there’s still a chance to reap the benefits of the secrets shared over this invaluable three-day event…
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