It is now easier than ever to simply book a ticket to a far-off destination and be on the next flight out. But unless you are a dual national of the country you are traveling to, you’ll probably need a visa. If you are lucky enough to have a passport from one of the highest-ranking Global Passport Index nations, you can travel the world without giving it a second thought.
For others, however, having dual nationality is a point of pride, a product of marriage or a calculated Plan B. In some cases, it is a means of escaping a birth territory to become a foreign national elsewhere. Whatever the reason might be, obtaining dual citizenship is a long, laborious process – but it can be done, and there are several avenues for doing so.
The most common way for people to move between their home country and their second option is through citizenship by investment programs. However, for all the dual citizenship advantages you get with a second passport, it can also create a few headaches for dual nationals.
It is easy to assume that there aren’t any drawbacks to being a citizen of two countries, but you must be aware of any potential disadvantages. For example, given the geopolitical tensions around the world, you could be forced to comply with your second home’s military obligations.
What is dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality, is a legal status allowing you to hold citizenship in two different countries simultaneously. This means you enjoy the rights and privileges of both nations, including the ability to live, work, and vote in either country.
But you must keep in mind that not all countries recognize or allow dual nationality. For example, Singapore is the top-ranked country in terms of freedom of movement in the Global Passport Index, but it prohibits its citizens from being dual nationals.
Japan has a similar stance on having two passports and will require anyone to renounce their citizenship when they acquire another.
The Benefits of Dual Citizenship and Second Citizenship
Expanded travel free
The biggest benefit for dual citizens is the second passport. This allows them to travel to more countries visa-free or get a visa on arrival. In some instances, it also lets them clear customs and immigration checkpoints faster. For example, a citizen of the United States who also holds a Grenada passport can enter New Zealand and Japan without a visa.
On the other hand, their Grenada passport would provide visa-free access to China. Dual passport holders can leverage their passports’ strengths for international travel when necessary.
More business and investment opportunities
Multiple citizenship allows individuals to conduct business activities across several countries, allowing them to select the nation that aligns best with their financial objectives or offers a more favorable environment for investments and business operations. This can include economic stability, a lenient taxation system, and governmental support for new enterprises.
Civil liberties encompass a variety of rights and assurances that governments pledge to uphold, whether through constitutional provisions, legislation, or judicial interpretation. As a result, dual citizenship grants extensive political rights and protections regardless of the passports of other countries the dual citizen might possess.
Dual citizens can vote in federal and local elections and participate in the civil and political life of both countries of citizenship. They have the freedom to enter their country of citizenship at any given time without a re-entry permit or other conditions and limitations that governments impose on foreign citizens.
While a permanent resident and a dual national both enjoy the right to reside in a country indefinitely, in some countries, the legal citizen may also have the right to unrestricted property ownership that a permanent resident may not.
More healthcare options
A dual citizen not only has access to two healthcare systems but can choose the most advanced or specialized system for their needs. For instance, a US citizen who has US dual citizenship with Ireland can take advantage of Ireland’s free healthcare system instead of paying for comprehensive medical coverage in the United States.
More options for higher education
The advantage dual citizens and their families possess regarding higher education is two-fold; Citizenship in two countries expands the options for universities and other types of advanced education, such as apprenticeships and special learning programs.
Additionally, studying in a foreign country as a foreign national includes higher tuition. Duals citizens pay the lowest tuition fees for higher education as well as access national grants and funding schemes.
The possibility of reducing taxes
Depending on the countries involved, dual citizenship is often advantageous for tax purposes. For many foreign investors seeking alternative citizenship, a primary consideration when choosing a citizenship by investment program is the country’s income tax laws.
Some jurisdictions, such as the United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, and St. Kitts and Nevis, impose no income taxes or exempt income tax on citizens earning income overseas. A common strategy expats use to lower income taxes is to acquire citizenship from a tax-friendly country where they are not required to pay taxes, and benefit from tax exemptions provided to citizens with a second residence living outside their country of original citizenship.
A common strategy expats use to lower income taxes is to acquire citizenship from a tax-friendly country where they are not required to pay taxes, and benefit from tax exemptions provided to citizens with a second residence living outside their country of original citizenship.
Disadvantages of dual citizenship
While the advantages of dual citizenship are appealing overall, there are some reasons why dual citizenship is bad. These reasons might not apply to everybody, but they should still be considered if you want to be a citizen of two countries.
A double tax burden
On the other side of the opportunity to reduce taxes for dual citizens is the risk of double taxation. Without a double taxation agreement, dual citizens will owe taxes to two jurisdictions, leading to potential financial complexities from overlapping tax obligations.
Exempt from some career paths
While dual citizens have more employment opportunities, they may not be eligible to take up specific jobs and positions in government. In some cases, holding dual citizenship may affect your ability to engage in political activities in one or both of your countries. Some countries may have restrictions on political participation for dual citizens.
Most countries that formally recognize dual citizenship don’t impose mandatory military service on their citizens; however, many countries have established compulsory national service once citizens reach the age of maturity.
A dual citizen holding two citizenships in countries with mandatory military service may encounter complications regarding their obligations to both countries of citizenship. This can be further complicated when one country doesn’t allow you to serve in a foreign military.
Dual citizenship can lead to legal complexities, especially if the two countries have different laws regarding citizenship and other obligations. In some situations, the laws of one country may conflict with the laws of the other. This can create confusion or legal challenges, particularly in areas like taxation, military service, and immigration.
Complicated immigration procedures
If you decide to move permanently to one of your countries of citizenship, the immigration process can be more complex for dual citizens. This can involve renouncing one of your citizenships. Some countries may also have restrictions on dual citizens entering or leaving their home country. For example, a dual citizen might need to use a specific passport to enter or leave a particular country.
Cultural and identity considerations
Having dual citizenship may also raise questions about cultural identity and where you feel most connected. This can be a personal challenge for some individuals, especially when the two countries are at odds with each other.
Limited government assistance
In certain countries, dual citizens may not be eligible for the same level of government assistance as single citizens, such as certain social benefits or subsidies. Even if the countries allow dual citizenship, the diplomatic ties could complicate the matter.
How to get dual or second citizenship
Citizenship by birthright: The most common route to dual citizenship is citizenship by birthright. This is when children are automatically granted citizenship in two countries at birth based on the immigration law of those countries.
Birthright citizenship is typically determined by jus soli (based on the place of birth) or jus sanguinis (based on blood relatives). A child born to a foreign-citizen parent may acquire citizenship from their birth country and the other citizenship from their parent.
Citizenship by descent: Although typically considered birthright citizenship, those who receive citizenship by birthright generally do so by submitting a citizenship application after birth.
Ancestral citizenship involves proving one’s ties to a county through their family history in the direct line. In many countries, like Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, and Italy, family members include grandparents and great-grandparents.
Citizenship by naturalization: The naturalization process is the primary way foreign nationals gain citizenship in other countries they have no familial ties. The eligibility requirements generally involve living in the country for a minimum period and can include proving language proficiency and knowledge of the country’s history and customs.
Citizenship by marriage: Marriage to a citizen often excludes the requirements for typical naturalization, such as the length of residence, language proficiency, and merits based on other point-scoring factors like paid taxes and employment.
Obtaining dual nationality through citizenship by investment
Citizenship by investment (CBI) is a legal pathway allowing foreigners to acquire dual citizenship in a foreign country by contributing to its economy or image. This form of migration has become increasingly popular for those seeking dual citizenship.
The specialized legal processes of economic citizenship primarily revolve around investing in real estate, government bonds, businesses, or other qualifying investments, depending on the country’s specific needs.
Upon meeting the investment criteria and passing due diligence checks, applicants and their family members can gain citizenship and second passports, allowing them to enjoy the rights and freedoms of being a dual citizen.
How can Global Citizen Solutions help me?
Investors can encounter many difficulties when seeking dual citizenship, so it is beneficial to have experts on hand to provide personalized assistance throughout the complicated process.
A migration specialist and an immigration lawyer can help you with the following:
- Minimize the visits you have to make to the designated country
- Have someone who works solely on your behalf
- Reduce the hassle associated with putting your citizenship application together
- Acquire insider knowledge from someone with years of experience in the market
Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to becoming a dual citizen. Contact us by filling out the contact form below.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Pros and Cons of Dual Citizenship
Does dual citizenship mean more taxes?
Downsides to holding dual citizenship include the risk of double taxation, the lengthy and costly procedures involved in acquiring dual citizenship, and the legal obligations imposed by two separate nations.
Whether or not dual citizenship means more taxes depends on the tax laws of the countries of citizenship and whether or not both countries have a double taxation agreement.
Why do countries not like dual citizenship?
A primary concern for governments with reservations about their citizens pursuing dual citizenship is the potential conflict of loyalty that dual citizens might face when having ties to multiple nations. Governments worry that individuals with dual citizenship may prioritize the other nation’s interests over their own, especially during times of national crisis or conflict. Additionally, dual citizenship may create complexities in enforcing laws and regulations, as individuals may take advantage of differing legal systems to evade responsibilities or legal consequences.
Can I lose my citizenship if I obtain dual citizenship?
Whether or not you can lose your citizenship after you obtain second citizenship depends on your home country’s laws around alternative citizenship. If you are a national of a country that does not allow dual citizenship, you may be forced to renounce your new citizenship or risk losing your current citizenship.
Can I pass on dual citizenship to my children?
Concerning the advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship, one advantage is that in many countries, you can pass citizenship on to your children through citizenship by descent. For instance, a child is eligible for an Australian passport through Australian-citizen parents, while a child can receive citizenship from their parents and grandparents in Mexico.
Can I renounce dual citizenship if I change my mind?
Most governments provide a system for renouncing citizenship. The specific process and requirements for renunciation will vary from country to country.