In this era of increasing globalisation and international living, more people are seeking to obtain second citizenship to expand their personal freedom and mobility.
In this article, we will take a look at what it actually means to be a ‘dual citizen’, the potential benefits it can offer, and the countries which do and do not allow it (with specific mention of the US). Finally, we will discuss some important things to consider before applying for dual citizenship.
Table of Contents:
Dual citizenship simply means being a citizen of two or more countries at the same time. Being a dual citizen of two countries means you would hold a valid passport from both of these countries and would be fully recognised as a citizen in both nations, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it.
Not all countries allow their citizens to maintain dual citizenship, and each have their own specific rules about when it is and isn’t allowed. In recent years, there has been an increasingly liberal trend towards people holding dual citizenship in many parts of the world; however, there are still many countries which forbid dual citizenship.
In the case of the latter, acquiring new citizenship often means needing to relinquish your original citizenship. In other countries, it is not quite as clear cut, and there are certain instances when it may or may not be allowed.
To become a dual citizen requires that both countries in question allow dual citizenship. It is therefore important to understand the rules and requirements before trying to acquire dual citizenship, so you can be prepared well in advance.
Some of the many benefits of being a dual citizen include:
The US is one of many developed countries with liberal policies towards dual citizenship. They do not restrict their citizens from holding dual nationality, and in turn do not require newly naturalised US citizens to relinquish their original citizenship.
As was mentioned that, in order to successfully hold dual citizenship, both of the countries must allow it. This means that US citizens will only be able to obtain dual citizenship if the other country in question also allows their citizens to have dual nationality. Not all countries allow dual citizenship, in which case you may need to relinquish your original citizenship to become a US citizen and vice versa.
While the US has fairly relaxed policies towards dual citizenship, there are a few small caveats to be aware of: firstly, if you are a US citizen holding dual citizenship, you may need to declare that you have other allegiances when applying for a new US passport or certain government programs.
Secondly, an increasing number of Americans are relinquishing their US citizenships so as to avoid the arduous tax duties that come with being a US national (i.e., being taxed on all worldwide income for the rest of your life).
If the US government deems that you are acquiring a foreign citizenship with the specific intention to renounce your US citizenship, you may automatically lose your US citizenship. There are also other instances where you could lose your US citizenship, such as if you serve in a foreign military or perform certain jobs for a foreign government.
There is a long list of countries which recognise and allow dual citizenship. Some place no restrictions whatsoever and therefore allow their citizens to freely acquire a second passport without seeking prior permission. Others allow dual citizenship under certain conditions only, with various requirements to obtain permission.
Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Barbados, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, the US.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain.
The special conditions which may be applied include:
Afghanistan, Andorra, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Djibouti, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Montenegro, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela
There are many significant benefits to having dual citizenship, and in almost all cases it makes sense to go for it if you are able to acquire a second passport. However, you should also consider a few important things before going through the process of becoming a dual citizen:
The expression, “there is no free lunch” also applies to having a second passport. While there are many advantages, being a citizen of any country comes with both its rights and duties. You should be fully aware of what might be expected of you before becoming a citizen of a different country. There may be additional tax obligations (e.g., the US taxes its citizens on their global income for life), physical presence requirements, or even compulsory military service. All this should be kept in mind before going ahead.
We briefly mentioned the various benefits of having a second passport, but it should be clear that these advantages do not apply equally to all nations. Each country will have its own value to offer prospective citizens, from stronger passports to lower taxes, better or worse standards of living, and varying levels of financial opportunities and security. The right country for you will depend both on which are feasible for you to obtain, as well as what they have to offer you.
Lastly, you need to of course consider the actual process you will have to go through to obtain a second passport, and along with it, the costs involved. If you are a very high net worth individual looking for a passport quickly without any hassles, then it makes sense to outright buy a second passport through one of the many citizenship by investment programs on offer.
If, on the other hand, you do not have a minimum of $100,000 to buy a second passport and are willing to invest a lot more time and effort into the process, you might instead opt to become a naturalised citizen over the course of many years. Again, this all depends on your personal circumstances and preferences, and the options which are available to you.
The prospect of becoming a dual citizen is incredibly exciting, and inevitably rewarding for those who are able to follow through with it. As you can see, there are many countries around the world which freely allow their citizens to simultaneously hold two or more passports from different countries. Fortunately, it seems the policies in most countries are becoming more liberal as time goes on.
That being said, it is a complex area which is constantly changing, and so you can never be sure that an opportunity which is available today will still be around tomorrow. Therefore, it is best to act swiftly and take advantage of the opportunities while they are available.
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