Brazilian Soccer Star Ronaldinho Jailed in Paraguay for Using Fake Passport

Case Highlights the Danger of Using ‘Grey Market’ Passports for Travel

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By Henry Hill


The former Barcelona star was arrested on March 6th in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. It’s alleged that he and his brother entered Paraguay with false Paraguay Passports and identity cards.

His lawyer claimed that the passports and identity cards had been given to him by a business partner and he believed that they were genuine.

Ronaldinho and his brother have been languishing in prison in Asuncion despite offering bail of $1.6m to be allowed to live under house arrest.

Paraguayan passports have been much touted in the offshore world in recent years. Some promoters have claimed that grey market passports are available. This is where a corrupt official enters your name on the citizenship register so that a passport can be issued.

Others have claimed that you can turn up in Paraguay, become a legal resident, then come back 3 years later and collect a passport. This is also not accurate.

If you want to become a citizen of Paraguay you will have to go to Paraguay and become a legal resident. This is easy to achieve. You must, however, spend at least 6 months a year there for 3 years before you can apply for a passport.

This is a great option for some and one of the quickest passports you can attain by naturalisation but you must spend time on the ground and do the work to become a legal resident.

The Ronaldinho case highlights the risks of falling for ‘too good to be true’ offers of South American citizenships for as little as $15,000 you see promoted online.


For anyone who falls for such an offer the best case scenario is you simply lose your money to a scammer. The worst case scenario is that the scammer delivers you a fake passport that you believe to be real. Every time you travel with that document you risk ending up in prison.

If you’d like help with obtaining a legal second passport please get in touch here.

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