How to Be Jason Bourne: Multiple Passports, Swiss Banking, and Crossing Borders

Is it possible to become invisible without breaking the law? (Photo: gravitywave)

LOS ANGELES, MID-JUNE 2008

Sitting on a plush couch in the neon-infused nightclub, I asked again:

“What’s it about?”

Neil Strauss glanced around and looked nervous, which I found strange. After all, we’d known each other for close to two years now. In fact, he was – as New York Times bestselling author of The Game and others – one of the first people to see the proposal for The 4-Hour Workweek and offer me encouragement.

“C’mon, dude, give me a break. Don’t you trust me?”

“Guilt. That’s good. Use guilt,” Neil said. But the Woody Allen approach wasn’t working.

“I can’t let the meme out early” he said, “I trust you—I’m just paranoid,” he offered to no one in particular as he downed another RedBull. So I fired a shot in the dark.

“What, are you writing about the 5 Flags or something?”

Neil’s heart skipped a beat and he stared at me for several long seconds. He was stunned.

“What do you know about the 5 Flags?”

I was in.

The 5 Flags

Neil’s new book, Emergency, teaches you how to become Jason Bourne.

Multiple passports, moving assets, lock-picking, escape and evasion, foraging, even how to cross borders without detection (one preferred location: McAllen, Texas, page 390)–it’s a veritable encyclopedia of for those who want to disappear or become lawsuit-proof global citizens…

I proofread the book months ago, and it’s been torture to keep some of the content from you, as I find the topics endlessly fascinating. For example, let’s take the concept of “geoarbitrage” to it’s natural but extreme extension: The 5 Flags. I was first introduced to the 5 Flags approach by a deca-millionaire in San Francisco, but here is Neil’s explanation:

“The way to break free of nationality, according to Schultz’s pamphlet, was to follow a three-flag system. The three flags consist of having a second passport, a safe location for your assets in another country, and a legal address in a tax haven. To these, Hill added a fourth and fifth flag: an additional country as a business base and a number of what he called ‘playground countries’ in which to spend leisure time.”

I never implemented the 5 Flags, but I fantasized about getting a second passport and the infinite options it could provide. Neil actually went out and did it.

I’ll get stopped at the airport in a lock-down; Neil won’t. If the FDIC collapses and bank withdrawals are blocked (as happened in Argentina in 2002 when the currency collapsed due to hyperinflation), I’m out of business; Neil has assets elsewhere.

Do I think the US banks are all going to collapse? Not at all. Do I think it’s intelligent to have a lot of options? Indeed. Do I think it’s fun to read about what billionaires and money launderers do, even if I don’t imitate them? Most definitely.

I’m very happy to offer you an exclusive first look at Emergency. Get this book. The following excerpts will set your mind spinning. Ellipses indicate skipped passages.

Lesson 22 – The Gone With the Wind Guide to Asset Protection

If you wanted to withdraw your entire life savings and move it to a bank in Switzerland, what would you do?

Now that I’d decided to hide my assets offshore, the information from the Sovereign Society conference about the government tracking withdrawals and transfers of more than $10,000 applied to me. It seemed impossible to get the money from my American bank to the Swiss bank Spencer recommended without ringing alarm bells. Even if I moved it in small increments, there would still be a paper trail detailing exactly how much money I’d transferred.

So I did what any resourceful American would do: I bought a book on money laundering.

After all, it isn’t a crime to move money secretly as long as the income’s been reported to the IRS and any other necessary reporting requirements are met. And my intention wasn’t to hide my earnings from the government, customs, or creditors, but to protect it from bank collapses, inflation, seizure, and lawsuits, which required leaving few traces of where it went.

Securing money overseas is not a new idea. Even in the novel Gone With the Wind, Rhett butler keeps his earnings in offshore banks, enabling him to buy a house for Scarlett o’Hara after the Civil War—in contrast to his Southern colleagues, who lose their fortunes due to blockades, inflation, and financial collapse.

For more practical, non-fictional inspiration, I bought Jeffrey Robinson’s 1996 book The Laundrymen. I’d always wondered how empty video stores renting movies for $3 a day could stay in business, and why I’d see Russian thugs running clearly unprofitable frozen yogurt stands on deserted side streets. According to Robinson, it’s because, in order to make illegal funds appear legitimate, crooks will slowly feed the money into the cash registers of a normal business.

“It’s almost impossible to spot an extra $500 coming in daily through the tills of a storefront stocked with 15,000 videos,” he writes. “Nor would anyone’s suspicions necessarily be raised if that same owner ran a chain of twenty video rental stores and, backed up with the appropriate audits, awarded himself an annual bonus of $3.96 million.”

Buried elsewhere in Robinson’s book was the answer I was looking for. The best legal way to surreptitiously move money, it seems, is to buy something that doesn’t lose its cash value when purchased. For example, there’s a black market for people who transfer money by buying expensive jewelry, art, watches, and collectibles, then selling them in their destination country for a small loss—usually no greater than the percentage banks charge for exchanging currencies.

So once AIG private bank in Switzerland returned my phone call—assuming that, unlike Spencer’s [a billionaire who appears earlier in the book] lawyer, they were actually willing to work with me—I planned to go shopping for rare coins.

But if it was all so legitimate, why did it feel so wrong?

While I waited to hear from the Swiss bank, I drove to Burbank to meet with the asset protection lawyers Spencer had recommended, Tarasov and Associates. The receptionist led me into a room with black-and-silver wallpaper where Alex Tarasov sat at a large mahogany desk with a yellow legal pad in front of him. With this pad, he would rearrange my business life forever.

“You did a very smart thing by coming here,” Tarasov said. Twenty- five years ago, he had probably been a frat boy. Maybe even played varsity football. But a quarter century spent sitting at desks scrutinizing legal papers had removed all evidence of health from his skin and physique. “By taking everything you own out of your name, we can hide it from lawyers trying to do an asset search on you.”

“So if they sue me and win, they won’t be able to get anything?”

“We can make it very difficult for them to find the things you own and get at them. It’s not impossible, but the deeper we bury your assets, the more money it’s going to cost to find out where they are. And if we can make that time and cost greater than the worth of the assets, then you’re in good shape.”

Like Spencer had said, this was just insurance. The cost of setting this up would be like taking out a policy against lawsuits.

“So what do you own?” he asked.

I laid it all out for him. “I have a house I’m still paying for. I have some stocks and bonds my grandparents gave me when I was a kid. I have a checking and a savings account. And I have the copyrights to my books.” I paused, trying to remember if I owned anything else. I thought there was more. “I guess that’s about it. I have a secondhand Dodge Durango, I guess. And a 1972 corvette that doesn’t work.”

In truth, I didn’t own that much. But ever since my first college job, standing over a greasy grill making omelets and grilled cheese sandwiches, I had started putting money in the bank. Since then, I’d saved enough to live on for a year or two if I ever fell on hard times or just wanted to see the world. I didn’t want to lose the freedom that came from having a financial cushion and not being in debt for anything besides my house.

“Here’s what we can do,” Tarasov said. He then sketched this diagram on his legal pad:

The stick figure was me. as for the boxes, I had no idea what those were. “These are boxes,” Tarasov explained. I was clearly getting the asset-protection-for-dummies lecture. “Each box represents a different LLC”—limited liability company. “If we can wrap everything in an LLC, and then all those LLCs are owned by a holding company, and that holding company is owned by a trust that you don’t even technically own, then you’re safe.”

I liked that last word. But I didn’t understand the rest of it.

“So we’re just basically making everything really complicated?” I asked.

“That’s the idea. We’ll even put your house in a separate LLC, so that if someone trips and falls, they can’t get at anything else you own.”

When Tarasov was through explaining everything, I couldn’t tell whether I was protecting myself from being scammed or actually being scammed myself. But I trusted Spencer, because he seemed too rich, too smart, and too paranoid to get taken in. So I told Tarasov to start wrapping me up in LLCs until my net-worth was whatever spending money I had in my pocket.

“Once we have these entities set up, we can talk about transferring them to offshore corporations,” Tarasov said as I left.

Lesson 54 – Secrets of Escaped Felons

Kelly Alwood didn’t say a word as he handcuffed my hands behind my back, opened the trunk of a rental car, and ordered me to get inside. With his shaven head, which looked like it could break bottles; his glassy green eyes, which revealed no emotion whatsoever; and the .32 caliber pistol hanging from a chain around his neck, he didn’t seem like the kind of person to cross.

As he shut the trunk over my head, the blue sky of Oklahoma City disappeared, replaced by claustrophobic darkness and new-car smell. Instantly, panic set in.

I took a deep breath and tried to remember what I’d learned. I curled my right leg as far up my body as it would go and dipped my cuffed hands down until I could reach my sock. Inside, I’d stashed the straight half of a bobby pin, which I’d modified by making a perpendicular bend a quarter inch from the top. I removed the pin, stuck the bent end into the inner edge of the handcuff keyhole, and twisted the bobby pin down against the lever inside until I felt it give way.

As I twisted my wrist against the metal, I heard a fast series of clicks, the sound of freedom as the two ends of the cuff disengaged. I released my hand, then made a discovery few people who haven’t been stuffed inside a trunk know: most new cars have a release handle on the inside of the boot that, conveniently, glows in the dark. I pulled on the handle and emerged into the light.

“Thirty-nine seconds,” Alwood said as I climbed out of the trunk. “Not bad.”

I couldn’t believe classes like this even existed. In the last forty-eight hours, I’d learned to hotwire a car, pick locks, conceal my identity, and escape from handcuffs, flexi-cuffs, ducttape, rope, and nearly every other type of restraint.

The course was Urban Escape and Evasion, which offered the type of instruction I’d been looking for to balance my wilderness knowledge. The objective of the class was to learn to survive in a city as a fugitive. Most of the students were soldiers and contractors who’d either been in Iraq or were about to go, and wanted to know how to safely get back to the Green Zone if trapped behind enemy lines.

The class was run by a company called onPoint Tactical. Like most survival schools, its roots led straight to Tom Brown. Its founder, Kevin Reeve, had been the director of Tracker School for seven years before setting off on his own to train navy SEALS, Special Forces units, SWAT teams, parajumpers, marines, snipers, and even SERE instructors. As a bounty hunter, his partner, Alwood, had worked with the FBI and Secret Service to help capture criminals on the Most Wanted list.

As the sun set, we drove to an abandoned junkyard, where Reeve let us practice throwing chips of ceramic insulation from spark plugs to shatter car windows, using generic keys known as jigglers to open automobile doors, and starting cars by sticking a screwdriver in the ignition switch and turning it with a wrench.

As I popped open the trunk on a Dodge with my new set of jigglers, I thought, This is the coolest class I’ve ever taken in my life.

Over a barbecue dinner later that night, Reeve asked why I’d signed up for the course. “I think things have changed for my generation,” I told him. “We were born with a silver spoon in our mouths, but now it’s being removed. And most of us never learned how to take care of ourselves. So I’ve spent the last two years trying to get the skills and documents I need to prepare for an uncertain future.”

I’d never actually verbalized it before. I’d just been reacting and scrambling as the pressure ratcheted up around me. Reeve looked at Alwood silently as I spoke. For a moment, I worried that I’d been too candid. Then he smiled broadly. “You’re talking to the right people. That’s what we’ve been thinking. Kelly has caches all over the country—and in Europe.”

Lesson 28 – Calculate the Odds That You’re In Jail Right Now

ST. KITTS, EASTERN CARIBBEAN

In a few days, I’d be committed to an expense of over half a million dollars, which was more money than I had.

And what was it all for? Symbolic paper. A passport, which is just a teeny little booklet that means nothing to the universe. Realistically, the world wasn’t likely to end in my lifetime. And if it did, everyone on St. Kitts would be just as dead as everyone in America.

If there were a smaller-scale world disaster, things would probably be even worse on an island in the Caribbean, where I was more likely to be a victim of food shortages, droughts, hurricanes, blackouts, and tsunamis. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide on an island—especially one in the smallest country in the Americas. I’d become so focused on my search for a passport—so consumed with escaping the blowback of American politics—that I’d forgotten the survivalist lessons I’d learned on Y2K and 9/11.

Soon, the whole endeavor began to seem like the biggest travesty ever. If something horrible happened in America, would a St. Kitts passport even get me out during a state of emergency? What if it was confiscated by customs agents? Or what if Victor, Maxwell, and Wendell were in collusion and just ripping me off? I didn’t have anyone to protect me here.

Once I’d ridden out that wave of anxiety, a new one formed. I began worrying that I’d blabbed my name and occupation to too many people. If they Googled me and saw the filth I’d written, they might not sell me the apartment or give me a citizenship. And then I’d be stuck in America if anything bad happened.

And so it went, all night, one wave of anxiety after another—half of them spent worrying that I wouldn’t get a passport, the other half spent worrying that I would.

I fell asleep around dawn for a few fitful hours, until I was woken by my cell phone. AIG Private Bank was finally returning my call.

Every day, my small savings were dwindling as the dollar dropped relative not just to the euro, but even to the Caribbean currency here. I never thought I’d see the day when Eastern Europeans came to the United States for the cheap shopping.

“I’d like to inquire about opening a private banking account,” I told the woman.

“Great,” she said, with barely a trace of a Swiss accent. “Let me ask you a few questions.”

“Sure.”

“Are you an American citizen?”

“Yes, I am.”

“We don’t deal with American citizens for a few years now.”

“But my friend Spencer Booth is American, and I think he has an account with you.”

“It’s likely an older account. We don’t do business with American citizens anymore. Sorry, good-bye.”

Before I could respond, she had hung up. I felt like an outcast. I couldn’t believe a bank wouldn’t take my money solely because I was American.

I’d noticed that many of the banks I’d researched had special policies for dealing with United States citizens. Even some of the online companies selling vintage travel documents said they no longer shipped to America because U.S. customs agents were opening and confiscating the packages. The government seemed to be sticking its nose everywhere.

In the meantime, I’d discovered a few other interesting facts: according to a report issued by Reporters Without Borders, the United States was ranked as having the fifty-third freest press in the world, tied with Botswana and Croatia. According to the World Health organization, the United States had the fifty-fourth fairest health care system in the world, with lack of medical coverage leading to an estimated 18,000 unnecessary deaths a year. And according to the Justice Department, one in every thirty-two Americans was in jail, on probation, or on parole.

Rather than having actual freedom, it seemed that, like animals in a habitat in the zoo, we had only the illusion of freedom. As long as we didn’t try to leave the cage, we’d never know we weren’t actually free.

That phone call was all it took to let me know I was doing the right thing.

Before going home, I had dinner with Wendell at a restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf [in St. Kitts, not San Francisco] and thanked him for his help.

After the meal, he patted my shoulder and smiled. “Next time I see you, you’ll be a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis just like me,” he said. “When you get married, your wife will be a citizen. And when you have kids, so will they.”

He stepped into his SUV, started the engine, then unrolled the window and concluded his thought: “One day,” he said, beaming, “when you come back to America, no one will recognize you. You’ll be a Kittitian.”

At the St. Kitts airport the next morning, I felt like I was returning not to a country but a fortress. “Your country is so tough to get into,” the ticket agent complained as she checked my documents for the flight home. “They make it so hard for us.”

She looked up at me and said it louder, almost with venom, as if it were my fault. “They make it so hard for us.”

She wasn’t alone in her opinion. A survey released the previous month by the Discover America Partnership had found that international travelers considered America the least-friendly country to visit.

“That’s why,” I told her, with the newfound pride that Wendell had instilled in me, “I’m moving here.”

Lesson 59 – Iceland is the New Caribbean

Maybe it was when Bear Stearns became the first brokerage house to be rescued by the government since the Great Depression.

Maybe it was when IndyMac became the fifth American bank to fail in recent months.

Maybe it was when the government gave customs agents authority to confiscate, copy, and analyze any laptop or data storage device brought across the border.

Maybe it was the unshakable sense that the worst was still to come.

But I was no longer alone.

It was a hot summer, and pessimism hung thick in the air. Most people I talked to felt as if they were inching closer to some darkness they couldn’t understand, because they’d never experienced it before and didn’t know what it held.

Even Spencer’s housemate Howard, who had once made fun of us for taking precautionary measures, was now looking into Caribbean islands. As it turned out, he would beat all of us there when his company collapsed and he had to hide from possible indictment.

“I’m so glad we started preparing ahead,” Spencer told me over dinner at the Chateau Marmont, where he was staying in Los Angeles.

Having struck out with the Swiss, I took Spencer’s advice and opened an account with a Canadian bank that had a branch in St. Kitts. Since both Canada and St. Kitts are part of the British Commonwealth, he’d explained, I would have easy access to my money if anything happened in America. Unfortunately, in the process, I discovered that keeping international accounts secret is now illegal: the IRS requires Americans with over $10,000 in foreign accounts to file an annual report disclosing not just the amount of money and the banks it’s kept in, but the account numbers.

Meanwhile, Spencer was moving forward with his ten-year plan. He started an Internet business in Singapore, enabling him to open a private banking account in the country, which he claimed was fast becoming the new Switzerland. Though he hadn’t gotten his St. Kitts passport yet either, Spencer had done more research into buying an island.

“I’m looking at islands in the north, around Iceland, because no one will think of looking for anyone there,” Spencer said, his thick lips spreading into a self-satisfied smile. “If I can get some other B people [billionaires] to go there with me, we can build underground homes and use geothermal energy.”

“What about your submarine?”

“It’s a great way to move between islands undetected, but we’re running out of time. We need to move faster. This is only the beginning.”

“How bad do you think it’s going to get?” Spencer seemed to understand the economy at a higher level than most people did, perhaps because he knew so many of the people who ran it.

“I don’t think the whole country’s going to collapse, but we’re looking at the worst economic disaster in America since the Great Depression. What I’m also concerned about is the increase in violent crime that’s going to accompany this.”

Everywhere I went that summer, the demon of Just in Case seemed to follow me, growling in my ear louder than it ever had, its jaws terrifyingly close to my jugular. I’d learned so much, changed so much, tested myself so much. It now was time to stop preparing, turn around, and face the demon—and my fears—head on.

And a musician would lead me there.

###

Note from Tim:  If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll love my extended interview of author Neil Strauss on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Click below to stream or you can find it on iTunes (see #15):

Ep. 15: Neil Strauss - Author of The Game and 7 New York Times Bestsellers
Download

Also — If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”

 

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply to wayne atherton Cancel reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

370 Replies to “How to Be Jason Bourne: Multiple Passports, Swiss Banking, and Crossing Borders”

  1. You hit a powerful nerve with me. The anthropologist in me have been tracking for years high tech tribes that follow some of the things you list in this article.

    They hunt for money making monster projects that might take three months of their lives of work around the clock; but that leaves them with enough income for not having to work the next three years. They tend to travel in packs around the world, but at times disperse and scattered to each do their thing.

    Their emphasis is to be untraced not because they have anything to hide, but because they simply don’t want to be bothered.

    Being one of the millions still cube bound, this article inspires in me the freedom I have yearn for all of my life.

  2. Tim exciting post, I think a part of every guy wants to be Jason Bourne.

    However there was small details left out. If you google St. Kitts passport you will soon find out that there are a number of small fees that goes along with this tax haven. For starters the $35K applicant fee for a single person, 15K for each dependant, and than you have to invest at least $350K in real estate, along with some legal fees and background checks putting another $20K+ on the bill.

    Ok I get it, there’s a break even point and if you make enough money it’s worth it, but I doubt that is many people. Inspiring story though!

  3. Hi, Bob F.

    He actually covers that in the book. I just finished reading it on my flight from Ohio to Florida. My friend and business partner (same guy that gave me 4 hour work week) bought it for me and said I had to read it.

    Amazing read.

  4. That is some really good info to think about.

    I really enjoyed this very long post and the letters as well. Especially the insurance information by Max K.

    I did get the impression that the precautions were the result of some type of paranoia so looking at it from the perspective of a legal mind was very helpful.

    Now that being said, this insurance is mainly for asset protection. Assets are based upon perception and only perception. It’s all about perceived value. What your home is worth, what your car is worth, even what your money is worth is really only what someone else is willing to accept it’s worth.

    So the real protection in a collapse would be knowledge. Knowing how to survive when food and water supplies are dwindling. Knowing how to keep warm in the cold, and how to hunt and fish and gather and grow food.

    So when is Neil going to write about that?

  5. @Hypnosis in New York

    I think Tom Brown Jr got most of those pretty well covered in his books. 🙂

    Not to mention a whole host of other books, such as the FoxFire series and “Living on a Few Acres”.

  6. Wow, this looks like a must-read. Will definitely look out for it this weekend.

    I had to get a 2nd passport as I was travelling to different middle-eastern countries and because of their international relations they would either not let you in if you had a stamp from a specific country or would make it more difficult. All I needed was a letter from work and I could apply for it. Just working on dual citizenship now to get a 3rd passport 😉

    I’ve also read the Four Hour Work Week and LOVED it!!! Still trying to apply some of it’s principles now. I’ve been recommending it to everyone!!

  7. I ordered it as soon as I read this. I’m halfway through it and it certainly has my mental wheels spinning! Thanks for the tip!

  8. Very little substance to this book. A waste of money. I’m disappointed that you recommended something with as little practical application as this. This book is not for the real world.

    1. Hi Mike X,

      I’m very sorry you feel that way. Of course, not all books will be liked by all people, but I think his book is both a fun read and helpful. I am signed up for disaster response training next week, among other things, as are dozens of readers. I’m sorry you didn’t like it.

      Best,

      Tim

  9. Hi Tim and all the “inspired” readers,

    If this book indeed proposes solutions and ideas about how to abandon the sinking financial ship of America and keeping you and your assets “safe” LEGALLY,

    as introduced by Tim in this blog, then I wish you guys think long and hard.

    The Congress decision to tax the AIG executives of 90% of their bonuses, which were LEGAL contracts, is an example of what the American Government can do to plug these Legal loop holes, if it so decides.

    If whatever Neil advocates is indeed legal and many people try to follow this, it will not be long before the govt passes laws to neutralize this gap in the system.

    This book can be at best read as a fictional fantasy like any other popular thriller, a John Grisham or Sidney Shedon.

    Which normal person would ever need skills like “to hotwire a car, pick locks, conceal my identity, and escape from handcuffs, flexi-cuffs, ducttape, rope, and nearly every other type of restraint”. These certainly dont sound like disaster survival skills, rather tactics useful for wannabe criminals.

  10. @ Mike X, Wow, seriously? I read the book and thought it was full of practical information, much more so than most other books I’ve read. I guess it depends on your definition of “practical” and your inclination to prepare for uncertainties, but I’m surprised someone would think that.

  11. I read Emergency this weekend. It was a quick and entertaining read. It had a little practical info, but is mostly about Neil’s experiences immersing himself into this obsession.

    Most of the “practical info” isn’t new to intel/survival buffs, but you may want to read it anyway for new perspectives.

    There’ll probably be a large influx of St Kitts citizens.

    Recommended, though.

  12. Wow, this is a must read. I’m ordering a copy right now. This book couldn’t have come at a better time, given the current state of the US. Thanks for the preview.

  13. Tim,

    I bought the book “Emergency” based on your recommendation and frankly, it was a big let-down.

    I will say though I admire and respect the author’s public-service efforts which I wish more people would become involved with. He should be commended for his public service efforts and EMT training.

    When I bought your book Tim, T4HWW, I found that it was both a manifesto and a hands-on manual with names, phone numbers and practical information. I, like a ton of others out there, liked the fact that you were preaching a lifestyle and were giving the reader all the actual details of” how you did what you said could be done”. You put your money where your mouth was and I sincerely appreciated that.

    “Emergency” bothered me because it was more sizzle than substance. The book contained little useable information AND the author makes 2 fundamentally flawed decisions about obtaining secondary citizenship and preparing for a real emergency. Bad Decision 1: Choosing St. Kitts as a second citizenship. Bad Decision 2: Going into debt to get a second citizenship.

    Below are my top 3 problems with the book.

    1. “How to be Jason Bourne” is not a legitimate/real way to describe what this book is (or should) be about. Jason Bourne is fiction and in reality, anyone with multiple passports in different names, if discovered, would be detained and questioned in most countries. Using the allure of a Hollywood movie franchise to describe a book purporting to give factual information on obtaining second citizenship is a horrible idea. Fact and reality must be separated from fiction and fantasy. Second citizenship and overseas banking are both incredibly complicated issues with MAJOR legal consequences if not handled properly.

    The whole process of obtaining a second passport through an economic program in the Caribbean (or non first-world country) is a VERY bad idea. Unless your cash net worth is greater than 5 million USD, the average person is better off putting all that cash in T-Bills, paying taxes on the interest and quietly living near a beach somewhere. Is this strategy sexy or will this sell books or be a good plot for a movie. No. It’s boring, easy and also perfectly legal. Undertaking elaborate measures to get a second citizenship and overseas bank account really makes little sense unless your net worth is so large that all the legal fees and costs associated with your asset protection strategies will be recouped in less than a year’s time. Also keep in mind that if you venture down the path of second citizenships, foreign bank accounts, hidden assets and possible tax code violations, you sure has hell better have a list of legal, tax and business consultants at your disposal should you need to defend yourself against the IRS, INS or foreign government. You also better have enough money on hand to pay all of these people!

    I cannot understand why the author of “Emergency” would have taken a second mortgage on his home just to get a passport from a non-first world country.

    If I was going to go into debt for a second citizenship, I’d pick a first world country with socialized medicine so I could at least get health care or assistance of some kind. First world countries also have a stable banking system. Parking cash in an account with RBC Centura in Vancouver is seemingly much safer bet than with a bank in a non-first world country in the Caribbean.

    Choosing St. Kitts is a very bad idea because it is common knowledge around the world that most non-native people from the Caribbean and Central America have acquired second citizenships there for tax avoidance strategies. What I mean to say here is that if you go into a bank in Denmark and use a St. Kittian passport to open an account, you’ve indirectly advertised the fact that your dodging taxes from your home country.

    Fleeing the US during a national emergency to a remote, isolated and vulnerable island in the Caribbean is also a pretty silly idea when you think about it. If someone’s primary goal in obtaining secondary citizenship to prepare for a emergency evacuation outside the US, Canada or another first-world country would be my #1 choice. Granted they don’t provide tax-haven advantages BUT, if TSHTF, I want to be in a organized, stable, resource rich country with first rate health care. None of the ‘tax haven’ countries fit this profile.

    The first goal of preparing for an emergency and PT should be to always stay below the radar. Tax haven countries almost always raise suspicion when you use their passports in foreign countries for business purposes.

    Here is a reality check: You get a St. Kitts passport after spending close to $100,000 USD, now what? Sure you can open a Swiss or foreign bank account BUT, be you are going to have to pay a large premium to move money offshore from the US and this will likely not equal the tax savings or interest you will earn on the deposit amount. Secondly, if your family and life is largely in the US than any money you get out of the US cannot be easily brought home again.

    In the 80’s, Panama decided to keep all the money deposited in their banks by foreigners they knew were evading taxes at home or had obtained the cash by questionable means. What recourse do you have if a foreign bank/trust/corporation decides to steal your money? You can’t exactly cry to the US and say “Please help me get back this money I was hiding from you and not paying taxes on.”

    This happens VERY FREQUENTLY! Most people don’t want to admit it because they are either embarrassed or, because they have no way to fight it.

    If anyone out there is considering opening a bank account in a Caribbean country then I’d strongly recommend them to do a Google search and read up on Kenneth Dart and the Dart Family.

    2. If you can get dual citizenship through one of your parents or grandparents by decent (lreland, Canada or Italy) than go for it. These are the only 3 countries I’d personally recommend exploring because the processes for each are well documented and all 3 countries have very large and diverse groups of dual citizens. Ireland for example, has more citizens who reside outside of the country than on the island itself.

    For Ireland, I did all the paperwork/research myself , did not need to hire a lawyer and spent less than $2,000 in total. My friend did a Canadian citizenship application for around the same amount of money.

    3. Lastly, what bothers me most about the book is how the author failed to list the actual resources and strategies he used like Tim did in T4HWW. The author of Emergency’s strategy of spending $100,000 on a third-world country citizenship is a complete waste of capitol in my opinion given his financial status AND does little to aid him in fleeing the US during an actual emergency.

    I think the author would have been better served if he had eliminated any discussion of foreign citizenships and banking from the book and focused solely on his survival training, EMT training and survival skills.

    mick – mick325@hotmail.com

  14. Just turned the last page on “Emergency.” Far from being a how-to, it carries the reader along with the author in his journey to protect himself from the unknown. The payoff is the realization that the solution to his fears is fairly far removed from what he thought it was in the beginning of the tale.

    I especially liked the summation of “The Parting Words of the Fishwife Sidur to Gilgamesh” which espouses a basic truth of being human. Especially poignant because it comes from one of the oldest epic stories known.

    This was read I would have missed but for your recommendation Tim – my gratitude.

  15. This was certainly fun to read, but I would like to leave some advice. I am a certified anti-money laundering specialist and contrary to the belief stated in the book that, “After all, it isn’t a crime to move money secretly as long as the income’s been reported to the IRS and any other necessary reporting requirements are met.”, money laundering is actually a criminal offense. In fact intent to and knowledge of money laundering is a crime as well. Even if you have think you have committed no predicate crime, pretty much the whole book of US law is considered a predicate offense and they will find one. (I know, I know… just what you are trying to escape right?) As an attorney mentioned in one post, if caught you will either have to fess up or perjure yourself- both could lead to conviction and subsequent punishment.

    The advice on how to structure the LLC’s is accurate as far as it being a vehicle for money laundering, but it is one of the simplest of structures and anyone trained in detecting money laundering would be able to easily put this together and would lead to a pretty solid case against you. Successful money laundering really requires multiple people, shell companies, investments, and some patsies to really help keep you from eventually being caught. You have to use as many methods as possible to layer your money to prevent detection. Even art, antiquities, and precious metal dealers have reporting requirements that could lead to you being caught.

    However…

    If you are determined to launder your money, currently the least regulated and best methods of doing so would involve futures, stored value cards, trusts, bearer bonds, offshore online gambling, and casino money transfers to non-regulated countries. Wire transfers, cash, and ACH activity is heavily regulated and irregular or unexplainable activity or transactions, especially involving foreign countries, are always reviewed and may even be reported without your knowledge, so avoid those if at all possible. If you can inflate the values of imports or exports, those invoices can also help validate unexplained monetary movement. (ex: A pencil is worth $1.00, but I value it at $1000. I am selling this in country A to my shell company or LLC in country B which purchases at inflated rate and I have just legitimized $999 moving from country b to country a.) Good luck with actually accomplishing that though. Cashing in foreign life insurance policies early is also a decent vehicle.

    If you are going to do this, I would suggest you learn what is actually legal and illegal, the known methods of money laundering, and the enforcements against them. If you are really serious, look into becoming a certified anti-money laundering specialist. As long as you pay for the study materials, you’ll get a book with pretty much everything you wanted to know about laundering money. I’m not knocking this author’s book by any means and I have only read the excerpts here. It seems pretty cool and I enjoyed reading it. I would just caution anyone against 1- Committing crimes and 2- Following advice from a secondary source on how to skirt the laws. If you are going to do something this serious I would suggest reading the following primary sources and making a decision for yourself if this is really worth it:

    The USA Bank Secrecy Act- if you are suspicious, they will report you.

    The USA Patriot Act- if you are suspicious they will report you. If you deal with bad countries that is a crime.

    The FATF 40, Special 9, and Non-cooperative countries- this is the global effort to stop money laundering and recommendations on how countries should do it. This one is what’s really going to screw you internationally.

    Basel Committee- This is why it is becoming difficult to find banks outside the US to work with you. Know your customer principles are becoming very strict internationally and what they have to report back to the US is too much trouble so they just won’t deal with you. This is what’s making traditional methods like numbered accounts a thing of the past.

    European Union Directives on Money Laundering- Actually, a lot stricter than US in a lot of ways. Watch out for trying to use a European lawyer. If you are suspicious with your money, they are required to report you. (Not yet an issue in the US, but I suspect it won’t be long. Get out now, LOL! US banks currently put strong emphasis on monitoring the activity of professional service providers such as accountants and lawyers. That’s why anyone on the up and up won’t help you hide your money like that. If they are willing to screw one entity, will they really have second thoughts on screwing you too? Watch your money closely folks!)

    Egmont Group- If you are suspicious in one country, they can provide this information back to any other cooperating country that requests it. Kind of like an international subpoena that you will never know about while they build a case against you.

    And that’s only the tip of the iceberg…

    Good luck to all in protecting your money and try your best not to get in trouble while doing it! =)

  16. @Mick

    Haven’t read the book yet, (and probably won’t based on comments), but had to chuckle hearing that St. Kitts wants $100k for citizenship. If Mr. Nick had done any homework at all he’d have found that Belize will do it for half that.

    Not to mention quite a few other countries will do it for no more than a nominal filing fee if you can simply prove physical residence for a period of time, (and most real PTs can stay put for awhile if they choose).

    FYI – regarding issues with multiple passports, just don’t carry more than one when traveling. Yeah, yeah, I hear, you want a second non-US one in case you get kidnapped etc, but you should be researching your itinerary locales better than that in the first place! (First step to avoiding trouble is don’t be there in the first place, right? 🙂

  17. Tim-

    Check out http://www.incredible-adventures.com/

    This is on my list of things to do. They have several courses that really get you into the action. Courses like Urban Ops, Covert Ops, etc. They also have other adventures like edge of space flight, extreme racing, top gun flying,shark swimming, extreme trekking, and would probably build a custom package if you need you socks rocked off in other ways.

    Check out http://www.urbandaddy.com

    This site is a great resource for the traveler. It’s a cross between upscale city events/places or vibrant exotic vacation ideas and places. Personally I enjoy the Jetset section to the metro cities. Here’s a few for your love of fast cars…

    http://www.urbandaddy.com/jt/adventures/1412/Red_Travel_Jetset_JT_Travel_Italian_Ferrari_Vacation_UrbanDaddy

    http://www.urbandaddy.com/jt/adventures/671/Ascari_Race_Resort_Jetset_JT_Travel_Spain_Racing_UrbanDaddy

  18. @M:

    I carry my legal (not camouflage) passports with me when I travel. This is o.k. provided all of the info matches and is legimate. I will reiterate that if you carry passports with various names, if discovered, you’ll likely be detained. My wife’s name various slightly (Jane Doe Smith vs. Janedoe Smith) on her 2 passports and she is stopped and questioned at every re-entry in to the US and in most European countries. At some point your going to have to show both of your passports. This is typicall not an issue but be prepared for lots of questioning.

    Not sure if it has also been said but if your an American and you enter the US using a non-US passport, you can get into a whole mess of trouble.

    Don’t ever do this!

    Let me raise a practical example everyone should be aware of:

    I was in a country right before the place came under attack by a neighboring country. I entered using my non-US passport because I was concerned about identifying myself as an American while staying here. It was a near-east country with known anti-American sentiment.

    Fast-Forward 2 weeks into my stay. My hotel has been attacked and four people are laying dead in the street. I’m trying to get the hell out of this place and I call the US embassy to see what assistance they can provide because I see US helicopters circling the area.

    The US government starts airlifting people out of the country but guess what: When I show my US passport to prove that I’m American I’m immediately questioned why I don’t have an entry visa stamp in my passport. Remember I entered using another passport. So, I am now pushed out of line and other Americans are given first priority until I can prove I’m in the country legally. Being a dual citizen in a true emergency event like this one can cause delays which, when TSHTF, can be the difference between life and death. It took about 2 hours to get my situation resolved and then I was on a helicopter leaving the country.

    In that 2 hour period I saw more people lose their life and chaos in the streets. This was the longest 2 hours of my life and it is a miracle I was not another casualty.

    Please understand that these real-world things can and will happen if you’re a PT or a globetrekker like Tim. I’m not going to say the US is a perfect place or that our government is always fair BUT, I can’t say I don’t have much hope that the Irish, Belizian or St. Kittian armies are going to help me get airlifted out of a country that is under attack. Sometimes, being an American is a good thing after all.

    M’s comment with respect to PT and Belize is spot-on. A true PT does not buy a citizenship but rather, establishes residency and then applies for one through proper legal channels and works directly with the foreign government.

    Let me make a correction to my previous post: The actual cost of a St. Kitts citizenship is actually much higher than 100,000 because you also need to purchase property. You’re looking at a total commitment of a couple years and 400,000 for their citizenship. This is, in my opinion a huge waste of money. Also keep in mind that swiss banks have now stopped offering new accounts to US citzens. Guess who will be next? Citizens from tax haven countries.

    I would like to see Tim write a book on PT, second citizenship and life as a global citizen. Give us (the readers) names, phone numbers and practical information you found useful in your travels. Help us find CREDIBLE people to assist with obtaining residency and living abroad. Give us a list of experts who can be trusted and relied upon for all sorts of real-life emergency events. Give me a book I will eventually carry with me at all times either in my backpack or saved digitally on my Iphone or Kindle that is both a guide and a reference manual of sorts, like T4HWW.

    When I read your blog post on Emergency, I ran out and bought it within an hour because it would be the book that I described above. It sadly was not.

    Let me close with my final thoughts on the book Emergency. I think a categorical distinction must be made between Emergency and 4HWW. Tim’s book was immediately useable in my hands. 3 days after I read it I was calling the companies he recommended and beginning to outsource portions of my life. My opinion is that the 4HWW is both a reference and a manifesto. My life is better for having read and applied the principals in the 4HWW. Once again Tim, thank you!

    Emergency should be regarded as entertainment and NOT as a guide. The book is fun to read and the author’s journey is a captivating one. He betters himself and society by learning survival skills. He should be commended for this.

    I just don’t think people should run out and buy this book thinking they are going to be able to apply the citizenship and banking portions for real-world use.

    If anything, this book should illustrate to readers exactly what NOT to do with regard to obtaining a second citizenship or bank account.

    mick325@hotmail.com

  19. After reading this interesting article, and the comments relating to it, I can see that there are some (not all) people who need to be aware of the scam that the federal reserve system is. There are plenty of resources, videos etc explaining how any country involved in the soon-to-be world bank will be subject to tyranny very soon.

    Peace – Like I read somewhere else in this post Identify and mobilise a local community of likeminded, savvy sovereign individuals, and when the civil unrest comes this year do not participate in the violence as that is what they want.

  20. Many people here are cautioning about trying to hide money outright, and I agree.

    However, there’s a middle ground. Find a low-tax jurisdiction, like Hong Kong, and base your earning activities there. If you are working on the move, then having your HQ in Hong Kong is just as legitimate as having it anywhere else. You are still subject to US taxation, but this way you can structure your activities so that even cheerfully and honestly reporting everything to the IRS, you have little if anything to pay them beyond your obligation to HK.

  21. What “meme” is this guy trying to spread?

    What could the “World Greatest Pickup Artist” have to fear? Surely he must have complete peace of mind?

    Isn’t that what everyone here really wants? Peace of mind?

    Hmmm…

    There are “memes” and then there is internet marketing: I’ll promote your book if you promote mine. All the “pre-orders” above are exactly the result aimed for with such tactics.

    Yes, you can earn passive income from internet marketing and live anywhere you want to. You can sell vitmains or whatever.

    But these ideas about being your own boss (insert contemporary buzzwords for this if you prefer) and delegation (insert more buzzords, e.g. outsourcing) are not new. Nor is the notion many people “at work” are “hardly working” – multitasking is one such way people waste time. And all this can be discovered wholly apart from blogs and even the internet. But there are generations that are unaware of this… the internet is all they know. And hence we have internet marketing, hype and internet “entrepreneurs” who simply manipulate traffic and “spread memes”. Read about some guy named John Reese and the web of marketers he works with. It is like a Ponzi scheme. He sells ebooks on how to sell ebooks. He hypes courses on “How to hype”.

    Marketing, marketing and more marketing.

    And these are Ivy League grads…

    OK, enough.

    To the younger people: Listen. By all means, travel, experience and explore the world. Open your mind. Not every country is like the US. And not so litigious. And not so paranoid.

    But also not so individualistic. We’re all in this together. Open your eyes. If countries did not complete and fight with each other, much of what’s discussed above would be moot.

    See the big picture.

    Give something back to the group; don’t be a cheater.

    And I think we have enough internet marketers. Let’s clean up the internet. Enough marketing and ads!

    Let’s just stick to spreading good ideas.

  22. You can run, but you can’t hide.

    Think about the concept that you reap what you sow, i.e. karma. Everyone gets what’s coming to them. No amount of squirming, ducking or dodging can avoid natural laws.

    Concentrate instead on living in the present, being the best you can be, do unto others and harm no human being. Then watch your environment change.

  23. Well, I’ll say this for the book: it’s well-marketed. Based on the excerpts above, it also seems completely inane. Notice that every single commenter with an actual law background has effectively said, “Don’t do this — it’s illegal.” Too say nothing of pointless. Transaction costs on this stuff will eat you alive. If you can afford a submarine, I suppose there’s no harm in wasting time on paranoid fantasies. At least it’s more socially acceptable than wearing kleenex boxes on your feet.

  24. Seems like the point of this book is to make people feel like Jason Bourne, playing on the male ego and paranoia that people get from mass media.

    I’ve learned from watching this real estate bubble pop that when everybody sees a good opportunity it is probably no longer a good opportunity.

    By the way the G-20 announced this weekend they are going to “set new rules for tax havens under regulatory shake-up”. So don’t move your money there quite yet.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123825462934465293.html

    @mick – your evacuation was it in 2006? If it was that was my unit.

  25. I bought the book, and it was certainly entertaining and had some good info. However, much of the preparation is based on what MIGHT happen.

    If you want to know what it’s really like to survive a country’s collapse and see what ACTUALLY works, I suggest that you read this blog: ferfal.blogspot.com

  26. The timing of this book is both hilarious and sad… with America heading up the “let’s destroy the value of our currencies and begin the takeover of private sectors” many people are going to begin the exodus. It’s funny how China is the only government that seems to becoming more capitalist.

    Looking forward to reading through the whole book!

  27. I hope no one is taking our legal commentators seriously, as they dispense anonymous legal advice via blog comments. I commend the commenter who pointed readers to primary references. That is the way to go.

    I think we need some fair balance of information.

    It is useful perhaps to distinguish between “legal” strategies employed by individuals and those by corporations. The more one blurs the line between the two, one a “breathing organism created via conjugation of genetic material”, and the other a legal recognised entity created via filings and paying fees, the more questions of *responsibility* come into play.

    Corporations can “get away” with things inidividual “people” cannot. They can negotiate with tax authorities in ways not available to individuals, based on many and varied reasons.

    What if the disntinction between a fictional entity and a real person become murky?

    Does the law treat fictional persons and real persons the same?

    Should it?

    Does it depend on the characteristics of corporation?

    Don’t accept any implicit suggestions as to the answers, read

    some facts, or the news and form your own opinions.

    Google “[name of large corporation]” and “taxes”. Then search “[name of wealthy individual]” and “taxes”.

    You may see some trends.

    Corporations ideally bring great minds together to create teams that give something back to the communities in which they operate, e.g. they pay corporate taxes.

    Do PT’s do that? What do PT’s do?

    Is there a difference in how we view a PT who has always been a PT and a former business leader (or other performer) who later becomes a PT?

    Corporate lawyers and plaintiff’s lawyers alike can no doubt get very philosophical about all of this. What is the nature of the relationship between a purely legal, fictional entity, the breathing individuals that comprise it, and everyone else?

    The thought I’m having is “contribution to the community”. Paying salaries, paying taxes, and volunteering one’s expertise are few ways that come to mind.

    There seems a great contrast between seizing the day via a 4HWW methodolgy and spending one’s time in a state of paranoia as described in Emregency. One appeals to a desire for more free time, and the courage to “make it happen”, the other feeds off people’s fears of one another and who knows what else. The only commonality I see between these books is that they are both being marketed via yesterday’s internet hype tactics.

  28. A really great post that (obviously) has stirred up alot of interesting controvery and viewpoints.

    Regardless of how practical this is for most net wealth levels, its an incredibly entertaining topic to learn about for planning our escape – even if it’s only virtual.

  29. I’m watching a documentary about James Hogue… a highly intelligent, and talented, troubled, and chameleonic “con-man” who found his way in and out of your former alma mater. I’m curious to ask about your opinion about him, in light of this blog’s subject matter and your own experiences getting admitted to Princeton… particularly because you mention in your book being admitted under unusual (albeit dissimilar) circumstances.

    Your interesting conclusion was that you were “just not good at reality.” Pardon the comparison, but what’s striking me is how fine the line can be between a successful and favorable or an obscure and confused fate, with other factors being equal. You do strike me as significantly more clear and healthy, but no less determined, in your approach.

    Thank you so much for your book, I’m very grateful for it’s inspiration and provocation!

  30. I just finished reading this book based on Tim’s recommendation and this blog post. However, I have to say I was overall disappointed with the book. It was an entertaining read, though I got bored with a couple of sections and just skimmed through and Neil seems like a guy leading an interesting life, but the problem with the book was that it is not a How-to. So be warned if you think that is what it is.

    It is is more a story about his spiritual journey after contracting Bush Derangement Syndrome. Hard to believe, but the premise of this book is built around his Alec Baldwin-like concern over the Bush Administration.

    During his journey of self-discovery he seems to value the ideals of self-reliance and personal responsibility that he seems to be learing for the first time, and things you normally associate with conservatives, but at the end of the book he is celebrating the election of Barack Obama who stands for less personal freedom and collectivist ideals. I don’t get it. Everything he seems concerned about in the book and is the catalyst for his journey, he should be fearing big time from Obama. He worked for the NY Times, so maybe that explains it. I don’t know.

    I bought the book for more insight in gaining duel citizenship and asset protection, but most of the book details other things more along the lines of survivalist techniques. While I was disappointed that there was not more focus on the offshore legal stuff, I would have enjoyed the parts about the survivalist aspects of it, had it been more of a How-to or offered sidebar information on where you could find more information on these topics.

    So the bottom line is that it makes for an interesting read, and may work as a thematic jumping off point on the subject, but it is sorely lacking any detail that would enable you to take action on the information and start employing his strategies yourself.

    1. @Doug,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. For more on dual citizenship, etc., definitely check out some of the other “PT” resources suggested in these comments. For asset protection, I’d encourage you to speak with a good litigator who can teach you what he finds difficult to crack — the easiest and often most effective approach is just a few types of liability insurance plus $2-3-million umbrella policies. Not legal advice, just opinion.

      Good luck!

      Tim

  31. I discovered your blog yesterday and was up half the night reading all the comments on Neil’s book. Sounds like a community I’d like to stay tuned-in to. I’m a bit older than most of you, but still 21 in spirit.

    Besides Europe, South and Central America, and the Far East, I’ve been on most of the Caribbean Islands, some in the South Pacific, and I checked out a few former Eastern Bloc countries. In total I’ve been to 55 countries so far and haven’t found anyplace I’d like to call my country but America. Lichtenstein, Chile, and Croatia are my next favorites. Many of the countries I visited or worked in are as beautiful. In some the people are friendlier, the government more libertarian, or the climate quite agreeable, but none have the “feel” of home. All of them have their own political problems as well.

    So, though I understand your desire to escape and agree with your preparations for survival in the event of an American economic implosion, I’m no longer seeking asylum offshore.

    In 2006, I decided to hunker down here in the good ol’ USofA and fight for liberty in my own country. I am inspired by the Ron Paul Revolution, which attracted so many young people to libertarianism. I support a number of the off-shoots of Dr. Paul’s presidential campaign, primarily the Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans For Liberty (YAL) organizations on a growing number of college campuses. I’ve been supporting other groups of long-standing: The Advocates for Self-Government, The Center For Small Government, Libertarian Party candidates for local and state offices, and others. I’ll support anyone trying to eliminate the income tax, detach the US from global organizations like the UN, World Bank, IMF, OECD, etc. I’m for open free trade, individual liberty, individual responsibility, and restoration of all rights, including the freedom to travel at will.

    If your generation stays committed to claiming its rights to individual liberty and self-ownership, we’ll see a great reversal of the socialist/statist trend. If the U.S. government continues on the path it is now on, then I cringe when I contemplate our future. Bush was a Mussolini wannabe who Congress did not keep in check, and Obama is a Marxist-socialist who learned nothing from the fall of the U.S.S.R. Reagan bankrupted them without firing a shot or putting a single American soldier in harms way. Though it was a difficult transition for people used to being wards of the state to suddenly being on their own, once the Wall fell there was jubilation throughout Eastern Europe, and they quickly embraced capitalism. Like the song says, “People everywhere just wannabe free.”

    BTW, a fun way to gain Panamanian citizenship quickly is to purchase a yacht in Panama and register it there. Last time I checked, it had to cost at least $100,000 (can be financed), and you have to hire a Panamanian crew, but from there you can sail or cruise the Caribbean or the entire world. A vessel flying the Panamanian flag is welcome in nearly every port of call (subject to customs inspection, of course).

    I had a sailing buddy who bought a place in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez, where he kept his catamaran. He had no trouble getting a residency visa leading to eventual citizenship for him and his girlfriend (a U.S. citizen who had lived and worked in Australia for 20 years and became an Aussie after the first five years). They spent about half their time in Reno, Nevada, and half in San Felipe with occasional trips to Oz.

    I had a 37-foot yawl on San Francisco Bay. My intention was to sail it up the Pacific Coast to Alaska and down to San Diego, sell it and buy a new 40-footer in Panama, obtain citizenship there and then sail it down to Chile, where I was going to buy a small house or condo in Puerto Montt and become a resident. But I got too claustrophobic aboard, so after six months of sailing the Bay and out the Gate a few times, I sold it and bought a motorhome to do some land cruising across America. I’m currently living in it full-time at a great RV park at the southern tip of Texas, where I am a frequent visitor to Mexico. I keep my options open.

  32. Though I don’t see myself necessarily using these skills in the near future, I’m certainly fascinated! And it may just be an indication of how much I need to open up my mind about what IS possible. This certainly plays into my (and everyone’s) fascination with Jason Bourne-like living. Thanks Tim!

  33. Well I did read the book too. It’s fun, a great read, and puh-leese guys I’m sure it was written more as a fun read than anything else. You don’t get a serious how-to manual on these things for $10 or whatever this book cost. Bye Bye Big Brother for example cost $500. About the second passport deal, Neil talks about St Kitts but completely fails to cover alternatives, which was a little disappointing. By far the best way to get a second passport is by a period of residence in another country. Residence doesn’t mean you have to live there. It just means you have to be registered as a resident. That would be much cheaper and lower profile.

  34. First off, what would they be looking for? Second, why isn't the information on your laptop encrypted? There are multiple programs that will encrypt all your information for free. Also do you not even have a password to log in? I am not saying having a password is secure, but it is an inconvenience to someone trying to access your files.

  35. ************ SHORT BOOK REVIEW *****************
    After reading this article I got the book expecting loads of information – it merely contained the story of how he did it. As in learn some skills and get a secondary ID (which basically takes money). I've been an offshore enthusiast for some time and though a very good and entertaining read, it contained little to no practical insights. Good for beginners who never considered an offshore approach to live… but that is about it.

  36. If you are interested in education reform I cannot help. If you build with clay and reform it, you still have clay when you are finished. The following books will give alternative views to education reform.

    Letters to the Schools by J.K.

    Deschooling Society by I.I.

    The Future of Humanity by J.K. and David Bohm

    Compulsory Mis-education by P.G.

    Education and the Significance of Life by J.K.

  37. You mentioned something about changing the public education system at the end of the TED speech; I’m a high school teacher and am curious in your goals and methods, maybe I could help, what’s your plan?

    damon

  38. Hi, I’m starting an on line business in the US and I’m not clear on how to collect and return taxes from each customer. Do I have to register the company in EVERY state? How do other on-line businesses do it?

    Any advice on the subject would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks

  39. Hi Tim,

    In your TED presentation you talk about deconstructing and improving the educational system, and ask for people interested in that to speak to you. As an actor I have been practicing many very simple self-knowledge and emotional exploration techniques that have changed my life, and that I talk about and teach in high schools in Honduras, England and France. I am working towards and educational system that teaches humans how to listen to their bodies as well as their minds, to face their fears and express their emotions. A “how to” live in the Truth of who you are by connecting mind to body and soul. I would love to share and learn with you. Drop me a line if you want to talk.

    All the best,

    James

  40. New Skill in Short Time – TF’s Deconstruction Strategy (perhaps)

    I have followed some of TF’s new skill accumulation with interest. Here are some observation which I’d attempt at breaking down and apologise if I’d missed out any steps and also I’d kindly thank in advance for TF’s metaphorical description of his consolidation of ideas after re-mapping a skill or muse.

    1: A specific objective and congruency.

    2: TF’s personal genious in Left Brain Analytical (digital) Strategies

    3: Elicits confirmation by testing

    a: material and sequencing

    b: removing points of weakness or waste or barriers to quick outcomes

    c: total intensity immersion, rinsing and repeating most commonly used

    or advantages skill.

    d: identify the transferable skill within existing knowledge

    e: trial and error

    So, he’s has very similar skills to Naruto’s Sensei Kakashi the Infamous Copy Ninja.

  41. Nice tips and all, but the book is so sexist it makes it really hard to read. I’m sorry you hang out with uninteresting women Neil, but we’re not all like that. Try to treat us as human beings not inferior sex objects who don’t think. It’s pretty dispiriting to see that viewpoint accepted by the mainstream fratboy mentality. I wish sexism could be taken as seriously as racism is in this country.

  42. This is going to be a fun book to read. I really like that some of the stats were noted about healthcare, openness to media, and being an animal in a zoo. Fortunately I have friends who also can see through the façade like this author and refuse to become lemmings. Now that my MBA is complete, time for a fresh fun read.

  43. Tim, the Four Hour Workweek was the first book I ever read based solely on the author description. Emergency was my first read based on a chapter excerpt. Neil brought it hard.

    And now I know how to pick padlocks.

    READ THIS BOOK YA’LL!

  44. If privacy and anonymity is your main concern I’d recommend the hands-on-book “how to be invisible” by J.J. Luna. It contains all you need to disappear without breaking any laws and/or spending a fortune. Another great read is “The Essential Underground Handbook” by P.M.L. Publishing Inc, which is an excellent but outdated book on the subject. As for the war on tax havens, it’s mostly a sham. Hong Kong, Samoa, Panama, Liechtenstein, Austria and even Switzerland are still good. At least for europeans. If you’re american or canadian Samoa and Panama have said that they won’t sign any treaties so they should work for you as well. Don’t take my word for it though, use google!

  45. Tim,

    great post, I did this a few years back, and it works great, my solution was five flags

    one for business, one for investing, one to live, one to play and the most importent the one for backup. an its not that much to setup if you do some of the leg work your self, I had great holidays while doing this visiting the places where i setup shop.

    all the best and keep up the good work,

    Jack.

  46. hmm.. i just finished the book.. and i have to say that i am very very disappointed.. i probably had too high expectations..

    I read the first part of the book very anxiously but then I realized that the author simply tells his story, without too much insight. The tips are not terrific and his story is not a success, at least not as I see it…

    Everything he did regarding his second passport and the Swiss bank account requires lots of money…

    And then the second part of the book – all those things about surviving the apocalypse… they were interesting, but have nothing to do with the reasons for which I was reading…

    Tim, I don’t know if you read the book before you wrote this article.. the excerpts really made me wanna read Emergency, but I regret that I read it..

  47. I regret to say that I was unable to find a copy of the book at “my” nearest bookseller, however I relate quite well to the whole concept. Ten years ago I too had an epiphany regarding life and where it was headed living in the ‘states’. Ten years ago I made up mind, packed in my low paying factory job, said goodbyes and moved from Ohio to Australia. 2 years later with permanent residency now up my sleeve and a better paying job, I no longer have to worry about any social or economic collapse. I wish there was some way to instill in people the ability to see life from a different P.O.V.

    Perhaps someday someone will finally find a way to open everyone’s eyes.

  48. Let me say this upfront. I lov e Neil Strauss. “The Game” is fantastic. Emergency – not…

    I purchased this book, after I’ve read about it on your blog. It’s more about paranoia and how to escape, without giving away pratical tips for the ordernary women / man. It’s more of a novel or a fiction book. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  49. Got the book myself recently and I’ve got my European passport, bank account in the euro, among other things. It wasn’t the most exciting read but def useful info. Tim when you going to post more content like this!

  50. Let me get this straight.. Once I’m making big money (coming soon).. I can set up my biz in a foreign country with little or no income tax, establish or buy citizenship in said country, then open bank accounts in similar locations that can’t be seized by the 3-letter agencies.

    All of this will protect me from a 35% income tax ( that bypasses the treasury & goes straight to the privately owned Fed.. or so I’ve heard).

    HOWEVER! In doing this secretly I will become a criminal b/c americans are “legally” obligated to reveal all foreign income, bank accounts, AND bank account numbers?

    Is this correct? Because it all sounds very depressing. Perhaps, the only option is to get a second citizeship & give up the original?.. Hmmm… I hope I can still visit.

    David

    P.S. How about if I do all of the above, but keep both citizenships and just report all the info to the good ole’ US of A as required? Still safe? Still get to keep all my sweet stinky cash? Holla back.

  51. Getting a second passport and offshore bank account has typically been hard to do for the average internet marketer who is making just $2,000 per month but wants to plant multiple flags. That is why I have concentrated on helping the little guy get set up with Swiss bank accounts and other kinds of offshore bank accounts only requiring minimum deposits of $1,000 to $5,000. Second passport programs do not have to cost an arm and a leg either since I have client’s working on one that will only cost them $3,500 when they are finished but it does take time. Anyway, thanks Tim for your wonderful and interesting blog.

    James

  52. David – Americans are meant to declare their worldwide income to the IRS. I don’t know of any other country that applies this rule to its citizens. Australians who don’t live in Australia for example are treated just like other foreign investors in Australia. There is a much bigger tax free allowance for foreign labor income if you are an American working overseas. To not pay US tax legally you have to renounce US citizenship. If you manage to become a citizen of a developed country you can still visit the US under the 90 day visa waiver program or on a business visa. But I bet if you visit the US too much they’ll get suspicious of your renouncement which is hard to get in the first place.

  53. Out of Africa

    ….and that is precisely what some of us need to do: Get the hell outta Africa.

    So, I have read the book with great enthusiasm, (we do read in Africa, in at least 3 languages, most of us, Eisch) recognized the brilliance of it all, BUT how does one apply ANY of this if you live on a pimple on the big arse of Africa?

    Everyone else’s currency is worth more than ours, mail order doesnt work too well, ie. if you have accidentally (or not) murdered someone and want to get rid of the body, just mail it to yourself, and guaranteed you will NEVER see it again.

    So, what if you are fairly literate, speak a couple of languages, are not entirely untalented, have no fear of traveling anywhere because everywhere else is bound to be safer than your own country, but happen to be born 5th generation African with no distant relative with an anywhere-else passport to piggyback on?

    I need a 3rd World adaption to all the good advice. ANYONE???

    I can offer loads of survival techniques in return….

  54. @Esther: Do it yourself 🙂 There are several other books that are MUCH better than Emergency, that actually gives you real actionable advice. Check my previous post to get some tips. Sign up for Simons newsletter for lots of free and really good advice. Here’s an interview with the guy http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2010/02/03/interview-simon-black-the-most-free-man-in-the-world/ Other than that, start your own business, earn money and think in a long term perspective of at least 10-25 years.

  55. Thanks Mattias – here is your payment:

    survival tips in Africa 1-4

    1.Do not drive a German car, as they are preferred by hijackers – hire a French car, you will be safe because not even the black market gets spares for them

    2.When malaria pills are not available, khaki bush leaves rubbed on the skin keeps mosquitos away.

    3.When parking a vehicle (anything with wheels, including a small plane) where there are lions, cover the tires with thorn tree branches because lions like the smell of rubber and chew the tires

    4. When camping where there are baboons, do not cook under trees. Baboon poo obeys the rules of gravity.

    5. Bank (mall/shop/service station) robbers are usually high on something, so their attention to detail is not great. Hide credit cards etc under the counter, in potplants, behind posters en let them have the cash and (fake) Rolex.

    PS. I saw today that the American Embassy is auctioning off their furniture….

  56. Gotta read this. Neil’s an old friend of mine as we lived together during “the game” days at Project Hollywood. He’s a solid guy who has a real curiosity about life and about not playing by the rules. His contributions to the dating advice for men is some of the best.

    Stephen Nash

  57. Really, I’m flattered that everyone wants to be me, but really, be yourself and remember that it is important to develop skills that will allow you to earn a living in different geographical areas. Money stashed away can be lost or taken away. It will also run out some day.

  58. I have actually looked into onPoint Tactical before, just for that, I may need to pick this book up! Can’t wait to read more.

  59. Great book recommendations here.

    I found Neils book to be a little too basic…but I guess that’s what underground is about, you will never find the best material on the first look.

    Kinda like business and marketing – the best advice is never the best selling advice.

    Anyway, thanks for a “appetizer” of PT lifestyle, can’t wait to do a little more research on my own.

  60. Dear Tim,

    I greatly appreciated your article. I would absolutely love to buy your book, and share it with my parents (seeing as I’m only fifteen). I am constantly affected by the economy, and more so by the stress of my parents. You can be completely assured that I will most definitely be sharing this with my immediate family.

    Thank you for the article

    Yours,

    Hannah

  61. In time people will realize what is important is what is moral – the non-agression principle. What is not important is what’s legal or illegal. What right does a man have to his property and what he earns? Good people disobey bad laws, and rest assured the IRS and USA are full of them. It’s the government that’s making us resort to extremes to live our lives in way we want. Freedom is not being forced to paying for the actions of criminals we call politicians.

  62. I think I will stay put in the world capital of Kool and keep my hard earned money in a good old UK bank, where I know it is safe! And every few years I will take a a 6 to 9 month break in the Caribbean…that’s the way to do it…

  63. Another book you guys will definitely want to check out is called “Inc & Grow Rich”.

    It’s an excellent read, based on US laws but that can easily be stretched to fit Canadian ones too. The premise of the example-packed book is that if you own a business that makes more than about $30,000/year you should automatically incorporate it.

    It outlines the tax savings, the different kinds of trusts, companies, LLC’s, etc. that you can create and where are the best places to have them incorporated.

    I bought it on Amazon which you can do… it’s a little pricey, but then again the value is priceless if you’re going to use it, or at the very least inform yourself.

    Dan

  64. The book was a disappointment – I didn’t need Neil’s personal emotive impressions/opinions of recent events – I was expecting a meaty how-to book, which this isn’t. It was an OK read, but not for the price.

    Don’t forget about the virtual private islands of strong encryption and anonymous digital gold-based crypto-currencies:

    http://www.pecunix.com

    http://www.bitcoin.org

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECache

    http://www.rayservers.com

    http://www.truecrypt.org

    http://www.gnupg.org