The Global Residence and Citizenship Handbook

Friday, 01 March 2013
By Christian H Kalin, reviewed by Lisa Cornwell

Relocating for tax planning purposes has rarely been such a hot topic. Take France – in recent months, we have seen David Cameron rolling out the red carpet for any Gallic neighbours wishing to make the trip over the Channel, Bernard Arnault choosing to acquire a Belgian citizenship and even Obélix (well, the actor who played him) deciding it’s time to head to Russia.

While these events involving France were (at first glance) triggered by the change in government last year, in a global workplace, relocation is an increasingly realistic option for the internationally wealthy for a variety of reasons, particularly for those living in jurisdictions where there is political or economic uncertainty.

The Global Residence and Citizenship Handbook by Christian Kälin and Henley Partners is a great reference guide to use as a starting point when examining becoming resident in, or a citizen of, another country. It addresses many of the early questions an individual would have about, for example, visa requirements, the tax system and timeframes involved, and it includes, at the end of chapter one, a list of questions that anyone thinking about moving must consider.

The book is split into four distinct parts covering residence and citizenship planning, practicalities (passports and visas), the world’s ‘premier residence options’ and citizenship by investment. It is reader-friendly: the bite-sized chapters lend themselves to being dipped in and out of as required, and the overview tables and charts used are useful as a quick snapshot. In fact, since reading the book, I have referred to the ‘overview of residence options’ in chapter ten several times.

The section covering tax and financial planning topics in chapter one is necessarily high level, but gives a useful and clear outline of the factors that may be relevant when exploring residence. An overview of day-counting (and its possible issues) is given, but, wisely, a country-by-country analysis is avoided and the advice given that it is ‘imperative’ to establish the tax implications before making a move.

For me, the most interesting chapters are those where the information provided is not limited to factual analysis. For anyone with clients considering giving up their US citizenship, chapter three, written by Professor Marshall Langer, is worth a read, covering as it does the bewildering array of steps and challenges required to relinquish a US passport.

Similarly, chapter four, written by Simon Anholt, focuses on countries themselves and the images and clichés associated with them, which can influence judgments about whether or not to relocate there.

The second half of the book is given to a comparison of the premier residence options that may be considered for relocation (including Singapore, Canada and Jersey, among others). Having relocated myself, I read the Switzerland section with interest and found it to give a useful introduction and flavour of the country. I even learned a few things – I had no idea that textiles was one of Switzerland’s main industries.

To call the book a layman’s guide to global residence and citizenship would be to underplay the range of topics covered and the amount of information imparted. However, it is clearly aimed at the individual considering their position rather than their advisor. This book could be given to a client as an encompassing introduction to the subject, and, indeed, it is an excellent port of call for a practitioner not dealing with these topics on a daily basis. The section on useful addresses and websites is slightly limited, covering mainly the contact details for those employed by Henley. That said, the handbook is a great advertisement for the need to use specialist firms such as Henley, so one can forgive the promotional push at the back. As the handbook will require regular updates to ensure that it remains relevant, an online version of the book would be my personal preference.

In summary, this book is not a technical tome providing case law or legislative references to assist with technical tax planning matters. It is, however, a clear, easy-to-digest guide for those who are considering relocation, covering all major jurisdictions.

ISBN: 978-3-9523859-2-0
Price: USD89
Publisher: Ideos Publications Ltd

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Lisa Cornwell

Lisa Cornwell TEP is a Wealth Planner at HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA.

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