7 Criteria That a Free Country MUST Have
Which is the most free country is a tricky question to answer. The answer depends on many things. In particular your individual preferences. Countries that once led the rankings of the freest countries like Australia and New Zealand would no longer be considered free by our definition. This is because of their high rates of taxation and strict covid rules. So how do we define what is a free country?
No Tax on Overseas Income
Any country that steals a percentage of what you earn is, by definition, not a free country. There is a difference between legality and morality. Theft via taxation is not moral, although it’s legal almost everywhere. Fortunately, there are many countries that don’t tax overseas income. These countries have territorial tax regimes. They will leave foreign residents in peace provided they’re not earning any money in the country. Countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua don’t tax the foreign income of residents.
There are still some pure tax havens too. These countries don’t tax any income no matter where you earn it. Monaco and The Cayman Islands are the best examples of pure tax-havens.
No Onerous Restrictions on Entering or Leaving the Country
You should always have a residence permit for the country where you’re staying. This, at least in theory, should allow you to enter the country at any time. Over the last 2 years of Covid restrictions, not all countries allowed legal residents to enter.
Some countries with the harshest restrictions even made it difficult for citizens to return. Australia banned its citizens who’d been in India from returning. They also restricted the number of citizens who could return. Countries imposing these kinds of restrictions can’t be classed as free countries.
No Worldwide Taxation on Citizens
Very few countries tax their citizens on their worldwide income based on their citizenship. The United States is the only country that does this that’s capable of enforcing it. There’s a tax-free allowance of around $120,000 for each American living overseas. Any amount over this is taxed by the US government no matter where you’re living. It would be dangerous for non-US citizens to even get a residence permit there. That would expose you to worldwide taxation for years to come.
No Religious Rules
Countries that have strict religious rules are best avoided. When we are asking ourselves what is the most free country, we have to exclude countries that might otherwise qualify. The United Arab Emirates is a great country in many ways. It’s a pure tax haven. But it has strict rules that forbid activities that most people would consider normal such as sex before marriage or adultery. You’re also likely to end up in prison for non-payment of debts which would be a civil matter in most of the world. The UAE is improving all the time but right now it can’t qualify as the most free country in 2022.
No (or minimal) Covid Restrictions
It seems like the entire world has gone crazy with restrictions on freedom in the last 2 years. When we’re looking at what is the most free country it can’t be one that enforces mask mandates or any other covid related measures. This rules out a lot of otherwise free countries. Sweden was the most notable exception to the covid rules in the last 2 years. The majority of their measures were voluntary. They continued as normal while most of the world faced restrictions. Several US states like Florida and Texas had few restrictions too.
No Mandatory Medical Treatments
Many countries have now imposed vaccine mandates for entry. The US recently opened its borders to the world again. But only for vaccinated travellers. Other countries, such as the UK, have extra measures in place for travellers who aren’t vaccinated. Almost all countries impose testing or vaccine requirements for entry now. The notable exceptions to this are Costa Rica and Mexico. Neither has imposed vaccine mandates or testing as a condition of entry.
There Must be a High Level of Personal Safety
Finally, personal safety is important. There’s no point in being in the most free country if your personal safety is at risk. Of course, this can vary greatly even within the same country. If you’re hanging out in the best parts of town in most cities, they’re generally safe and well policed.
To get back to what is the most free country the answer is that an absolutely free country doesn’t exist. To live the freest life, you can you have to mix and match several countries. Choose 3 places and spend 4 months per year in each one. You could have your tax residence in Monaco and spend the summer in the Mediterranean tax haven. You could spend a couple of months in Sweden and then spend some time in Mexico in the winter.
You can take the best things from each country. Then build up your portfolio of residences and citizenships. As the French philosopher and Nobel prize winner Albert Camus said: “the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. That should be the goal for all freedom-loving individuals.
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