Episode #
060

The Digital Emigre and Second Citizenship in the EU with Samantha North | TNN60

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Episode Summary

A person with dual citizenship is a citizen of two countries at the same time, which has both advantages and disadvantages because it is a complex legal status. Dual citizens enjoy certain benefits, such as the ability to live and work freely in two countries, own property in both countries, and travel between the countries with relative ease. Being a citizen of two countries allows you more mobility - embracing our global world and all its opportunities.

In this episode of The New Nomad, Samantha North (owner of Digital Émigré) joins our hosts Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski as they take their audience to the complicated world of passports and visas and everything in between. They regaled their audience with stories about their experiences and shared tips on how to make the legalities of travel easier, especially after Brexit. If you are planning to go to a foreign country and maybe stay there for an extended period, tune in to this week’s episode. Surely, the golden nuggets peppered throughout the show would be a huge help.

From the episode

Samantha North:

Overlooked Place:

Overlooked Experience:

What You'll Learn

  • Brexit’s effect on the travel community
  • The advantages and disadvantages of having dual citizenship
  • Having wise counsel is crucial

Timestamps

[2:57] Brexit’s effect on the travel community

[6:39] The advantages and disadvantages of having dual citizenship

[17:20] Why it’s important to have insurance when you travel abroad

[19:37] Learning a new language

[25:19] How to not get ripped off when you shop in a foreign country

[29:03] Having wise counsel is crucial

Show Transcript

Andrew  

Hello, and welcome to The New Nomad podcast. Today, our guest, Samantha North will join us of Digital Émigré. Really interesting because Andrew, since we've started this podcast, we're so focused on mobility. We're also focused on how the pandemic affected mobility. And these, like the golden visa and other, you know, visa items, but we've never really had a conversation about how Brexit basically changed some of the mobility functions of Europe. I think we're gonna get into that today. And it's funny some of the different issues that kind of get pushed to the back of the news when something like a worldwide pandemic pops up. But it does have human consequences. And I know, as we go deeper and deeper in our podcasts, we keep learning more and more things. We've had a lot of members say to us, we're in the UK, we would like to go spend some time in Europe or go live in Europe. And now with Brexit, a lot of the regulations and things have changed. You're hearing the same thing.

Andrew  

Yes. And you know, it's one of those things that even from the European health insurance card that was previously in place, of course, that's still in place, but Brits still qualify for that. It just has, there's another hoop to jump through. And I think there are a lot of things like that, that we need to bring to attention as people need to understand the differences from previously to now. And some of the things that didn't change. And there's some really advantageous programs for those who are willing to, or wanting to retire or work from another country, gain that other passport. Take advantage of other social programs for health care and another country, etc.

Allen

Well, it's interesting, and we'll bring Samantha into the conversation in a minute. But do you remember Andrew, a few podcasts ago, our guest that was in Panama that was giving great advice to Americans about getting a second passport, I'm happy that we're going to give our European friends and perhaps some Americans of maybe Irish descent or other some other ideas that Samantha would share with us. So, Samantha, we'd love to bring you in the conversation. Welcome today. I understand that you're in Portugal, but I think your story of how you matriculated to Portugal and your background is really interesting to our audience, because I'm sure there's people gonna be listening to this podcast, who this is something that speaks to me because there's probably lots of folks who want to do what you ultimately did. So please share.

Samantha  

Yeah, hi, Allen and Andrew. Thanks for having me here. It's exciting to be here all the way from this little island out in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira. Brexit really what, where to start? I mean, it's been haunting me for many years. Now, since the shocking time in 2016, when that vote was announced. I was in Istanbul then, and, you know, woke up in the morning. And there it was, and it was a shock. And I guess for the first couple of years after that nothing really changed. And so we all just didn't really think anything of it, you know, we rested on our laurels, not many of us made Plan B's. And then when 2019 came around, and there were a few false starts in terms of actually, you know, implementing the leaving. Personally, I began to think I really need to get up and do something about this. So I remember the first move I made was in just before the end of March 2019, which was supposed to be the original Brexit date, in mid-March, I just dropped everything in the UK and I jumped over to Belgium and established my residency there as an EU citizen. It was, it was so easy. I just went to the town hall and said, Hi, I'm here. Here's my passport. And they immediately gave me a residency just like that. So I did that for a couple of months. And then someone said to me in Brussels one day, why don't you check out Portugal, I think Lisbon will be a good fit for you, she said. And I never been to Portugal before at that point, but I took the leap. It was much nicer than Belgium in terms of weather for one. Probably more interesting, sorry to say I did my master's degree in Belgium, but Portugal's really the winner, and then I got there in January 2020, and established my residency, again, using the EU rights super easy. And begin began living here. And as I think that transition period after Brexit, that was the whole of 2020. And the pandemic, as that transition period ended, I think Brits had a real shock and a real massive reality check after December 2020. When everything fell apart, basically, like it was shocking. At that point I started Digital Émigré in roundabout September 2020. I set up the website and started producing content and kind of formulating the direction it was going to go in. And it grew from there really, I think the mission was really to help British people to get the EU rights back. Because what else can we really do you know that the government has sabotaged us, with it sabotage the futures of the young people who can't study in the EU anymore. It sabotages the older people who can no longer retire in the EU. So it's really done a lot of harm. And I think this was kind of a way for me to try and redress the balance. And even if it's in some small way, perhaps it will end up being a more significant way. Who knows? But um, that's where it's at the moment.

Allen

Samantha, is the key, getting a second passport somewhere in an EU country, what would you say is the key? You know, when somebody comes to you, and you provide them the assistance, what is some of the first steps?

Samantha  

Yeah, so first of all, I ask people really, do they want to go in? Do they want to live in the country full time and relocate, if they don't want to do that, there's still a couple of options for them. But typically, that involves investing for one of the golden visa programs. For example, in Portugal, they can take a passive income route, called the D7 visa, which is really popular, a lot of people come to me about this, and. But they have to live there, and they have to become a tax resident, basically, their life has to be moved to Portugal. But for those who don't want to do that, then the Portugal golden visa is a great option because they can just invest that money. And then they can continue their old life basically like they can carry on living in the UK or the US, and just come to Portugal for a holiday each year. And they still have the same timeline to citizenship. So this is a pretty important factor. Other than that, I suppose I ask people things about language requirements, like, do they want to learn a second language? How confident are they about getting to the required level? If they don't want to, then really Ireland or Malta is all that's left? Maybe Cyprus, I think, as an option, and, you know, like smart, smaller questions about tax situation. I'm not a tax advisor, but I've gained a bit of basic knowledge, you know, from my own experiences. If they need more support then I have a network of people to refer them to and questions like that I might get into their heritage a bit because sometimes we can find unknown avenues. For example, the Sephardic Jew passport option in Portugal and Spain is quite useful, actually spoke to a guy today who was in Phoenix, Arizona, and we discovered that he may be able to get the Sephardic Jew heritage passport in Portugal. So he didn't know this. And he was quite excited about it.

Allen

Well, on your website, you really highlighted and you touched upon them quickly, Malta, Portugal and Ireland. I'm curious if that's the easiest path. I mean, are is there other reasons for that?

Andrew  

Yeah, I'm surprised Spain didn't make that list for all the Brits, a third of Brits that are living outside of England live in Spain. Tell us, tell us the reason.

Samantha  

I get this question a lot. Why not Spain? Spain has a couple of what I think a major disadvantages when it comes to citizenship. You know, it's a great place to live if you don't care about having a second passport. But if you do, the main thing is that it takes 10 years to be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship, and you cannot keep your original passport, they don't recognize your citizenship. Now, there might be ways to not inform them or something or say that you've given up your original passport and not do that. But obviously, I don't advocate that course of action. I just think those two factors are so important, you know, because if you give up one passport, then you're sort of you're not getting a second passport, right? You're just switching nationality and getting rid of another avenue. So to me, if somebody comes to me and they want the best option unless they're wedded to Spain for some other reason, like they love Spain for its own sake, then I would always say what about Portugal? It's got so many advantages over Spain.

Andrew  

Interesting Okay, that's Portugal stands out in my mind of course, I it's one of those things where I'm, I'm dreaming of getting my passport there and even spending a few years there myself later on, but since I'm fluent in Portuguese, but that's the is it the D7 visa that in Portugal that you feel is the most relevant for people applying for?

Samantha  

It depends. If somebody has the capacity to invest for the golden visa, I would say that that is the most flexible option by far because they can hang on to their old life and they can choose they can stay tax resident isn't in place they're already tax resident in. But they can also move to Portugal with that and live there full time so that they have really the best of both worlds in that scenario. That the D7 I would say is really a lesser option to that it's for people who who have the passive income, you know, it's only 707 100 euros a month minimum, the Portuguese minimum wage. So it's very accessible for you know, people on a basic state pension or people with a modest online business with some dividends, or something like that. But I would always say if you can manage the golden visa, that'll get you the most flexibility. If you can't, and you're happy to live in Portugal and you have the passive income then go for the D7.

Allen

Samantha, it's interesting is Andrew and I have looked at the remote work community. We've seen certain countries, and you've already touched upon Spain and Portugal. But we've seen Croatia, we've seen Estonia, we've seen other countries pop up. I think it seems to be good business for these countries. So you probably are leading indicator of maybe other locations. I mean, even our conversation here, why Portugal versus Spain. And I got to believe that a lot of these different countries are going to look at what other locations are doing and try to get this great talent to come to them. Are there any other countries? And you mentioned that there's 30 countries, obviously roughly in the EU? Is there any other burgeoning gems that you see coming? And also what is your thoughts on the future? The government's almost all of them realizing that this is probably a good thing to do.

Samantha  

Yeah, totally, I'm hoping that it's gonna go that way in the future. Just a point on these digital nomad visas that I'm seeing. I was quite excited when I heard from when I first heard of those in Croatia, and Estonia, for example. But when I looked more closely at them, it didn't seem like they were a viable pathway to citizenship. Like being designed for nomads they're not designed for long-term emigres or you know, people or immigrants or whatever, people who want to actually live there, kind of for the long term. And I think that was what really made me think these are probably not the right fit for them for my particular audience. But it would be really nice if those countries could extend that a bit to cater for a wider range of people for those who want to get a second passport. And who have because a lot of remote workers and digital nomads might kind of convert to being a longer-term people and you know, that's a way to entice them.

Andrew  

Yeah, it's been a challenge for those who were actually working from country to country. But were living on a tourist visa and extending that and kind of having to fudge a bit or stretch it when they went to extend their tourist visa saying, No, I'm not doing anything. I'm on vacation when we're working from there.

Samantha  

Isn't a big thing in Southeast Asia like Thailand and other countries there. You do the visa right, one day and then come back.

Andrew  

Yeah, so that's the digital nomad and remote work visas like Cape Verde, Capo Verde has just created a remote work visa program, which it's good for that loophole to where you can actually say, yes, I've been working from here. And hopefully, it will be a transitional program for those to get a long-term visa, to say, look, I've been here legally working. And I can show proof of income. Now can you give me a full-on resident visa to stay here? So it's a stop-gap that has prevented people from being able to live in different countries. And it's a step in the right direction, I believe for people to get resident visas and residence permits for long term stays. And I believe that many people who are free to work from anywhere will be expats in the long term. But I believe the term digital nomad and the term expat are misnomers. Because expat is so colonial, digital nomad is so if it's a genre that, right, 

Samantha

You're too tired to work, right?

 

Andrew

Yeah, you work from your computer and you could work from anywhere. So by definition, that's digital nomad.

Samantha  

I like the term Émigré, that's why I picked it. It's a bit of a maybe it's slightly obscure, and some people have said, well, why did you choose such an obscure thing for your website, blah, blah, blah. But I said, there's actually a rationale here because this was specifically mean someone who moved abroad for a political reason. And because the origins are because of Brexit as a push factor, I think it's a really appropriate word for what I'm trying to encompass here.

Andrew  

Yes, the biggest challenge you think that you faced due to Brexit would be what?

Samantha  

Well, personally, I got lucky because well, I may be not lucky, I made my move while we were still in the EU. So I was very fortunate in that sense. Biggest challenge personally, one of them has been like, it's such a drag now to travel around Europe, like you go to the airport. And while we used to sail through the eGates, with this great EU passport, now we have to queue with all the others who don't have that privilege. So, admittedly, I haven't traveled that much since the pandemic began. So it's mainly just been Portugal, Portugal, and more Portugal. But where did I go? When I was coming back from the UK, to Portugal, before I got my residency card, and queuing up and being you know, having to go through immigration at the desk and all of that, I didn't feel good about that, you know, I felt quite, I just hated, actually. 

Andrew  

So you've got that resident card? How long will you need it before you can get your Portuguese passport?

Samantha  

Yep, well, I got my, my residency my E residency document in January 2020. So my plan is on the very same date, January 20th 2025, no delays, I'll be straight to Lisbon or wherever is fastest and submitting all of that stuff. Hopefully, my Portuguese will be better by then because I need to get to a certain level A2, it's not so high. And I'll be there clutching my stuff and submitting that application. Yeah, without any delay.

Andrew  

That's five years, then, with five years,

Samantha  

five years before you can before you become eligible. And, you know, like, I use that as ways to compare different routes, some are five years or 10 years, some are seven years. But in reality, you know, that is just the time when you become eligible to submit your application. You know, realistically speaking, it's gonna take a bit longer, I'm expecting probably another nine months to a year for that to actually be ready. Yes, there's been a lot of backlog recently because of COVID. Who knows what that's going to be like in 2025. But I'm, I'm ready for it.

Andrew  

I know that they also you have to show that you have proof of insurance when you apply for the residency and I believe you have to show that you have that for six months before you can qualify for the national program. But it may take longer, right?

Samantha  

Um, well, let's look at it from the D7 visa, the digital nomads visa. I actually chatted with someone about this exact thing earlier today, we usually recommend that the first six months when they're applying at the Portuguese embassy in their country of origin, they should get six months of just regular travel insurance, you know, like like you would get for any long haul trip to Europe. And that will cover them for this period of time when they're kind of in Portugal as a not a tourist exactly, but as a resident in waiting, in the run-up to their appointment. And then once they have that residency permit in hand, they can then access the Portuguese state health care system. So I'm not sure if other countries with passive income visas have the same two-step process that Portugal does. I know, Portugal makes it pretty easy compared to other countries. But this is the one I know the best. And this is the one I know the process pretty thoroughly at present.

Allen

So I have an interesting question for both of you. Because when I hear people thinking about different locations, I hear the financial aspects of it, but you just brought up something that I don't think people put in the calculus that they have to pass a certain level of proficiency, in this case, Portuguese. Now I know Andrew had to learn Portuguese from scratch. Samantha, I know you're learning Portuguese from scratch. And of course, we all know it's not the same as Spanish. So the level of proficiency, Samantha, I'll ask you first, how difficult is it and how much how time-consuming would it be for somebody that I'd love to ask Andrew just to compare and contrast?

Samantha  

Yeah, so in Portugal, again, this is another factor that makes Portugal a good option for citizenship. They only asked for level a two on the common European language framework. That's just one above beginner. So I feel that whether intensive in the last year, I can reach that level. You know, I've not been so great at European languages in my time. I do speak Mandarin pretty well after four years in China. But I find that in Europe too many people speak good English. So it's easy to get lazy as a native speaker. In China, you were forced there was no choice

Allen

You were kind of forced. So it tells how quickly you learn Portuguese give some people either confidence or a reality check here.

Andrew  

[Speaking Portuguese] Now my wife says I'm fluent. She is Brazilian. And I've been married 21 years as of last month. So this is one of those things where it's taken a lot of time. It's taken living in Brazil spending time and in and out of Mozambique mess things up a little bit for me, but because Portuguese in Angola, Mozambique, Portugal, Brazil, those are all quite different languages. But I think that immersing in the culture and taking classes is essential. Marrying someone doesn't cut it. But it is essential if you marry someone. Yeah, if you marry someone, it's it does help to learn the language.

Samantha  

You can marry someone who doesn't speak any English at all, then you will be forced to learn but I like conversation. It's important to me, so I couldn't fit on that. 

Andrew  

Right.

Allen

Quick question for you, Samantha on your journey too is so you're in Madeira? Um, you mentioned your transition. How did you recognize that as where you wanted to go with all the choices that you had?

Samantha  

Madeira specifically? 

Allen  

Yeah, yeah. 

Samantha  

Well, I started this Portugal journey in Lisbon. And I thought that was my place. You know, I was there for most of the first year of the pandemic and in 2020. And yeah, I didn't really experience much of Lisbon. That wasn't pandemic time, really. So in November 2020, a friend from London who was in Madeira said, come visit for a few weeks, say for Christmas. It's great. And I was a bit put off at first because I'm a bit of a nervous flier. And I've heard horror stories about the Madeira airport being terrifying and dangerous. So I was in two minds about whether to plan the trip and I ended up just going for it, and stayed maybe five weeks. And then I stayed and stayed. And then in February 2021, I went back to Lisbon, packed up my apartment, put my stuff in storage, finished that contract and just came straight back to Madeira. And that was it kind of this was my new place in Portugal. It's a very easy place to live, you know, and I was gonna say this, you know, for the end, there's talking about Madeira, but I can't resist talking about it, because it's fabulous. It's just a place where you can immediately feel comfortable. You know, and it's not too islandy, you don't get island fever so much here. Yeah, I can't really speak highly enough of it. It's if you haven't been, you must come.

Allen

That's, that's no, that's great. Because it's one of the things that when people listen to this podcast, they also want to learn about is maybe unique locations to go in when they hear somebody speak highly of a given location, it gets on the radar, so to speak. And from our location independent audience, you know, having good Wi-Fi, which by the way, we're doing this podcast, probably on Wi-Fi, they're here etc. And it's a great community, we just love to share with people on that. And speaking of sharing, and who knows, we may have just taken the wind out of your sails on this. Our question that we always ask everybody on our podcast is, could you share an overlooked place? Now you've given us a lot here. Maybe that's overlooked. Can you give us an overlooked person, place or experience that you would think that somebody who's listening audience would like to learn more about?

Samantha  

Did you say that because I could use an experience?

Allen

You could use an experience. 

Samantha  

Okay, well, I was gonna use Madeira as the place but I've already talked a bit about that. So I'm going to narrow it down to an experience within Madeira. That's not cheating. Anyone who comes here first of all, like please come visit. You will love it. Go for a levada hike. Do you? Nobody heard of levadas before? 

Allen

No, I have not. 

Samantha

So Madeira is a volcano. The whole thing is a volcano right? I think it's dormant. I'm pretty sure it's 99% dormant. And so it's very steep and in the interior and coming down the mountainside. There's all these waterways that irrigate the island, and they call them levadas. And you can have some amazing hikes along the sides of these channels. And some of the views are so stunning that you just have to see them to believe them. So come to Madeira and have the experience of levada hiking. That's what I would recommend.

Allen

That's fantastic. Actually, I don't I didn't know what the name is, but when I'm going to Hawaii, and there's a lot of volcanoes going but I don't think there's those type hikes because those some of those volcanoes are a little hotter than the dormant ones but I would love to come take you up on that someday that sounds like real love fun.

Andrew  

Samantha Tell me how about the Mercado is the farmers market. Someone's told me it's worth visiting there in Madeira.

Samantha  

Yeah, it is I have mixed feelings about the farmers market. It's interesting, there's a lot of activity and it's lively and you know, intriguing. But it suffers from that issue of a very touristy part where tourists can get ripped off if they're not careful. Like there's this fruit, which they call their banana, pineapple fruit. And it looks like a combination of those two things. Doesn't taste that good. But they sell it in the Mercado. And, you know, they're asking like, sometimes 30 euros for fruit. I've heard some people fall for that. And I think that, that those kinds of places, having spent many years in China, where foreigners are constantly ripped off all the time and everything, and I'm quite sensitive to that kind of thing. So that kind of gives me pause. But there are corners of the market that are really local and very interesting like that the fish area, fantastic fresh fish, for example. So yeah, just a bit of a mixed bag really.

Andrew  

Getting a corner on the market is essential. Finding those corners of the market are essential right to find those steals, the stalls that are our I don't miss. That sounds fun. It's one of the places I've wanted to visit. So that got two things in Madeira,

Samantha  

banana, pineapple fruit, if you dare make sure it's right.

Andrew  

And that I overpaid, yes. 

Samantha  

And don't overpay.

Allen

Andrew, I know you well enough, you're not going to overpay you'll you'll research this and you will negotiate. He will get that for a fraction of the cost of this.

Samantha  

If you have the Portuguese skills, and yeah, you'll be grea.

Allen

So what should you pay for it? 

Andrew

Yeah, what should you pay for it? What's the amount you should pay for it for those listening?

Samantha  

Maybe three or four, three or four euros, something like that? I don't know if there was really a fixed price. But 30 euros for a fruit is a bit ridiculous, isn't it? I pay maybe three or four.

Andrew

Okay.

Allen 

And he does mean that he will come there and he will get it for two, two euros. That's why we wanted to make sure he got that in there. Samantha, this was a great conversation. Could you talk a little bit about where people can find you, Digital Émigré. We'll put stuff in the show notes for folks. I think this is tremendous what you're doing. And I know there's a lot of people that will be really needy of your assistance. Your counsel today has been great. And Andrew, I added another location on the map that we have to go visit from the fine people that we've spoken to on this podcast. So we have to tell us some more for our audience to find you.

Samantha  

Yeah, places to find me so the main place is digitalemigre.com. That's the website, that's the home where everything happens. I do have a burgeoning YouTube channel, which has got about eight videos on it. And I'm determined to do one every week from now on. And that's just search Digital Émigré on YouTube. Actually, I have a Facebook group, which is growing quite nicely. And it's called Get EU Citizenship, or facebook.com/groups/digitalemigres with an S. That's the main ones I do have. We do have a presence on Twitter. But yeah, it's not really taking off. So I'm sticking with those three.

Allen

Fantastic. Well, thank you for joining us today. You know, Andrew, we've had lots of people say to us, it seems overwhelming, closing borders, etc. But when you talk to somebody like Samantha, who's been down that road and give that helpful advice, you know, for our audience out there, you just got to dive in and try it. And also, you've got to chat with her about the going price of various fruits in different areas to so you don't get ripped off. Andrew, always share with us, take us away with what you learned today.

Andrew  

Yeah, having wise counsel is crucial. Having that in my life as you know, fellow folks like you, Allen, folks, I can call and say look, how do I do this? But having people like Samantha, who can guide people through the process for visas for Malta, for Portugal and other places that folks are wanting as they decide where they want to live for the next decade. That's I've realized more and more that it's essential to have those subject matter experts around us that we can call on and today it's been then very pointed for me to realize that, you know, the those that have been affected by Brexit need people to help them, especially in the right visa, the right process, so they one, they don't waste the money and the time and they can have one of their own follow on citizens. Walk them through their process. That's this has been good.

Allen

Well, you know, Andrew also brought up something that makes me happy. But what we do here at Insured Nomads is people need to have that insurance coverage while they're waiting to get that these and I know even folks that come to the United States, you need a certain amount of evacuation and medical coverage for some of the shorter term visas. So this is also a good reminder for us in our space to help support others and educate them there, too.

Andrew  

It reminds me of one of our partners, expats everywhere. They're in Portugal, they do amazing videos, lots of them from Portugal, just interviewing people expats all around the world, but they sent a lot of folks to us that have seen their journey of moving to Portugal. They don't provide the services that Samantha does. But it is, you know, the look into Portugal, those that are taking advantage of the various visas. That's insurance is a big piece of that because you've got to provide proof of it. It's wise.

Allen

Fantastic. Well, thank you for joining us today to our listeners out there please continue to travel safely, and we look forward to hearing you in the next episode. Cheers.

The Digital Emigre and Second Citizenship in the EU with Samantha North | TNN60

About the Guest

Samantha North

Samantha North, originally from the UK, has lived and worked abroad for over 10 years. In 2013 she started her freelancing career while working for a remote destination company. Even though she started out as a journalist, she decided then to focus more on web development. Both the pandemic and recent political changes (Brexit) in her passport country (UK), inspired her to launch a service, Digital Émigré, to help remote workers and freelancers emigrate to the EU and gain citizenship. Her past freelance experiences in web development, digital marketing, and journalism have been invaluable in this new venture.