Bart van Lieshout

Starting your own country

May 2011

Discretely owning a low profile country without any inhabitants could actually be a very profitable business.

There are many reasons why you could be longing for a country of your own. Your reasons might be different from mine, but I bet they have something to do with the law. Not that you have to be a potential criminal to want your own country of course. In my case it involves tax laws mostly. If you are a foreigner working in the Netherlands the tax packages are more attractive, but I can not become a foreigner. But if I would start my own country I could.
And I think having a country could have some benefits on the side. Because if you own a country, you can make the rules for that country. Write your own law. And why not write it in a way that it is attractive for others to join your country. They don’t actually have to come to my country physically of course, that would only raise costs and complicate matters. Let’s keep the new country very simple. Preferably uninhabited. So who could benefit from my new country?


I assume there are many people who would also like to change nationalities for financial reasons. They might want to pay me a small fee to become a citizen of my newly formed country. In return they officially get a new nationality and that’s the end of it. If they want to they can give up their current nationalities, or keep them on the side when it suits them.
They have little business with my country. My laws will probably be rather simple and will definitely be much more simplistic than any serious country with actual inhabitants that need governing. So as long as the new subjects will not travel to my country to live there (some sort of agreement might secure this), they will only pay for their nationality and that’s that.


Not very ethical, but probably an interesting group of potential customers are those who do business that interferes with local law. Providing them with a country to deposit their money or to position their internet servers might be something they are willing to pay for. System administrators will be needed, but I’m sure they can work remotely.


The next big group of costumers might be the multinationals. Since members of the board don’t actually have to be in the headquarters any more these days, a physical building won’t be necessary. A post box will do. And of course a small tax form that will make them smile and me rich. But countries are not for free!


The new country will have a domain on the internet, so I can sell domain names as well. With all these large companies having headquarters in my deserted country there might be some demand.

Apart from this simple list, there are probably a dozen other ways to make money with a deserted country. So a country of my own could potentially generate an income that will allow me to live like a king. But how do you get a country? Does it actually have to be a physical place or can it be a digital country? Might some comet or piece of moonstone in space be the physical form of my country or does it have to be on earth. And if the latter is true, can it be on the bottom of the ocean as well? Or can I float it around like a boat?

I don’t think there is a book of regulations for starting a country. Usually countries are declared for one reason or the other. And as soon as other nations will acknowledge your country you become a ‘part of the group’. Some countries might not want to acknowledge you, but Israel seems to be a real country. I think applying for membership at the united nations might be a next step. This might involve some recognition of international treaties, so I will have to look into that to make sure they don’t interfere with my goals. And since it might take the better part of a lifetime to read them, maybe I better skip that part. Recognition from other countries is an area where my new friends the corporations can help. Lobbying would be in their best interest if they want that outrageously low tax rate my country will offer.

I think the Greeks need some cash at the moment, so maybe I could buy some deserted piece of rock somewhere in the Mediterranean. If my country prospers, there is always the possibility to ‘expand’!


When you drive six kids to school, the Epod will probably not be your vehicle of choice. But getting to the office could be so much more fun!

May 2011

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