Having dual citizenship brings both advantages and disadvantages. If you are a citizen of two (or more) countries at a time, you have a larger number of freedoms but you also have a larger number of obligations. Below we list the main pluses and minuses of having dual (triple, etc.) citizenship, which will hopefully help you make a balanced decision if you are thinking of applying for a second passport.
Only a few decades ago, the concept of dual citizenship was hardly conceivable. The generally held idea was that a particular person can be a citizen of only one national state. Theodor Roosevelt, for example, once called the dual citizenship concept ‘an obvious absurdity’.
The state of things in reality, however, made it clear at a certain point in time that the dual citizenship idea was not, actually, absurd. Some countries grant their citizenship to anyone who was born on their territories (citizenship by the ‘right of soil’). So if a child was born to foreigners in one of these countries, he or she automatically acquired dual citizenship. The child was a citizen of the foreign country by the right of soil and he/ she was a citizen of his parents’ home country at the same time.
Besides, in 1084, Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean started issuing passports of the country to those foreign nationals who agreed to make investments in the local economy. The country needed foreign direct investments badly as it had gained independence from Great Britain only a few years earlier. Thus, the Government decided to launch a citizenship-by-investment program that was aimed at attracting capital from abroad. A few more countries later followed the example of Saint Kitts and Nevis and now there are about a dozen citizenship-by-investment programs in the world. Please read more about the available citizenship-by-investment national programs.
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Advantages and disadvantages of having second citizenship
The level of people’s mobility and the level of internalization have both grown significantly in the 21st century. The continuing globalization tendency makes an increasing number of people move around the world and relocate to new places. Some of them choose to acquire second citizenship to make their prolonged stay in a foreign country legal. When obtaining a second passport, they certainly acquire some serious advantages but they also have to put up with some important disadvantages being citizens of more than one country at a time. Let’s have a look at the main pros and cons of having dual citizenship.
|Dual citizenship: Pros||Dual citizenship: Cons|
|Second citizenship can be acquired in a fast and simple manner even without leaving home |
You don’t have dual citizenship by birth? Then you can acquire it by investment! It is fast and simple to acquire citizenship-by-investment without paying a personal visit to your second home country. For instance, the immigration authorities of Vanuatu in the South Pacific and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean will take only a couple of months to process your application for citizenship. We would like to emphasize that you can never visit these countries while holding their passports. Never in your life.
The second citizenship acquisition timeframe is short indeed in comparison to acquiring foreign citizenship by naturalization. The latter process will last from three to ten years and you will be obliged to live on the territory of the foreign country for the best part of each calendar year.
There is an exception from the general rule, however. You can become a citizen of Portugal after five years if you spend only 35 days in the country in total over the period. Before you can apply for citizenship of Portugal, however, you have to obtain a legal residence permit in the country that will be granted to you in exchange for an investment. Please read more about acquiring legal residence in Portugal.
|High speed of foreign citizenship acquisition comes at a price |
Acquiring second citizenship can be quite costly. The required investment amounts can be rather modest in some cases and quite substantial in other cases: from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars or euros.
In addition to that, you have to take various state duties into account as well as the immigration agent’s fee (you can file an application for foreign citizenship by investment only via an authorized agent).On the other hand, citizenship of a Caribbean country or that of Vanuatu is going to cost you less than a small apartment in a large European or American city. If you want to become a citizen of a European country, however, you have to be ready to pay a larger sum of money: a million euros or more. Besides, if you apply for citizenship of Malta by investment, for instance, the waiting period is going to be one year at least.
|Citizenship by investment is not the only fast way of acquiring second citizenship |
There is one more way to obtain foreign citizenship in a relatively fast manner: you can marry a citizen of a foreign country.
Besides, if you study your genealogical tree and find out that some of your ancestors (grandparents or great grandparents, for instance) were citizens of a foreign country, you can qualify for citizenship of this country too in some cases. Another opportunity is to enlist in the army of a foreign country thus qualifying for its citizenship.
|Military service entails risks, foreign ancestors do not guarantee foreign citizenship, and fictitious marriages are illegal |
There are actually few countries that will grant their citizenship to foreign soldiers or to those who have foreign ancestors. Moreover, those who welcome foreigners to enlist in their armies promising citizenship in exchange often send the foreign recruits to ‘trouble spots’. If a certain country does grant its citizenship to descendants of its (deceased) citizens, proving the dependence may appear quite hard and the bureaucratic procedures involved in the process are almost unbearable. You can spend thousands of dollars and years of your life only to find out that you do not meet the requirements. Fictitious marriages seem to have become a thing of the past already. If you marry pro forma and the truth comes out, you will be extradited from the foreign country in an instant. In some countries, you may be legally prosecuted for a pro forma marriage.
|Citizenship by naturalization will extend your cultural horizons and bring new valuable knowledge |
If you are prepared to spend most of your time in a foreign country over several years, you can eventually become a naturalized citizen of the country. Naturally, you will learn many exciting things about a different culture while living in the foreign country over an extended period. Your perception of reality and your worldviews are going to change and you will turn into a more mature and a better understanding person. International employers, among other people, are going to appreciate these qualities, by the way.
|The naturalization process is long and there is never a 100% guarantee |
In addition to the time that the naturalization process takes, it also requires a lot of effort to pass through all the bureaucratic procedures associated with it. Before you can apply for citizenship by naturalization, you have to legalize your temporary stay in the foreign country somehow. This may prove uneasy and/ or quite costly.
Some national Governments make the naturalization process so arduous that foreign nationals seeking citizenship by naturalization have to hire immigration agents to lead them to the desired goal. But even in this case the result cannot be guaranteed: the immigration authorities of the country may reject the application for citizenship without any explanations.
|Second citizenship brings a number of new rights and privileges |
If you have more than one citizenship, you can enjoy the benefits that each of your multiple home countries gives. For instance, you can participate in the political life of several countries at a time (vote in elections), apply for a job in different countries, use the infrastructures such as education and medical facilities of several countries, and so on.
|Second citizenship brings new obligations |
Having several national passports may be burdensome in some cases as you will have to comply with the requirements in all your countries of citizenship.
Some national governments literally force their citizens to take part in their political lives. In Turkey and Egypt, for example (both countries have citizenship-by-investment programs, btw) you can be fined or even sent to prison if you fail to cast your vote in the elections.
Besides, to be able to use the social security bonuses in your second (third, etc.) home country you may have to make payments to the local social security fund.
|Second citizenship simplifies international travel |
Probably one of the main reasons why people invest in second passports is the opportunity to cross national borders with ease when holding the passport of a foreign state. If you choose your second home country carefully, you can get visa-free access to a vast number of national states and territories.For example, holders of Portuguese passports can enter 172 countries without visas (or obtain visas on arrival).
Besides, when you have two (or more) passports, you can have a foreign visa stamped in any of them. This means that you will not be left without a single passport while your visa application is processed and your passport is inspected at the embassy or consulate of the foreign country.
|A second passport may hamper crossing national borders at times |
The truth is that citizens of some countries are not welcome to some other countries. If you have several passports, you might choose the wrong one when trying to enter a certain national state and access will be denied to you.
Holders of multiple passports often realize that they have to declare their citizenship of one country and conceal their citizenship of another country when dealing with customs officers of a certain national state.
|Second citizenship provides for additional protection in case you require it while travelling |
Even though you do not have to have all your passports on you when travelling abroad, you can. This will not only simplify international travel but it will also provide additional protection to you.
The more passports you have, the more embassies/ consulates can come to your defense in case you need it. Please note that if you hold a passport of an EU member state, you can apply for assistance to the embassy/ consulate of any EU country wherever you are.
|You foreign passport might make you a target for criminals |
If you hold a passport of a Western European or a North American country, you have to be extremely careful when visiting some regions of the world. Citizens of rich countries may become targets for terrorists.
For instance, in the course of the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008, the terrorists were picking Americans and Europeans from the crowd with the intention to hold them at ransom. So even if you have a reputable passport, you might want to think twice before using it in some circumstances.
|Second citizenship allows avoiding political and economic instability in your home country |
Of course, we all hope that the political and economic situations in our home countries are going to remain stable but nothing seems certain in the modern world. Geopolitical tensions and economic rollercoasters make everybody take such risks into account. Second citizenship brings a clear advantage in this respect. If things go terribly wrong in your home country and your personal security or your business are in jeopardy, you can move your assets to your second home country and relocate there with your family.
There may be no military conflict nor civil unrest in the country of your birth but the living conditions (or business conditions) may become simply uncomfortable one day. If you have second citizenship, you will feel much safer inside because you know that you can leave at any time and live comfortably at another place. What is important, you will not be a refugee in the foreign country but a full citizen.
|Second citizenship may become an obstacle if you want to make a career in politics |
People holding foreign passports will face restrictions in some countries when applying for certain jobs. If you would like to work for the US Government, for example, or take a position that would give you access to some state secrets, your second passport may get in the way. You are not going to get such a job in all likelihood.
This is understandable, of course. National Governments are naturally reluctant to give foreigners access to state secrets. Besides, building a political career with a second passport can be problematic too. In some countries such as Australia, for example, people with dual citizenship are not allowed to run for certain elective positions. You will have to renounce your second citizenship if you would like to become a member of the Parliament, for instance.
Those who were born with dual citizenship will face fewer restrictions than those who acquired second citizenship by naturalization or investment. In any case, this sort of problem is not of concern to most holders of multiple passports. They will usually not engage in politics in the countries of their second (third, etc.) citizenship.
|You can cease to be liable for conscription with second citizenship |
Military services are mandatory in some countries and acquiring second citizenship is a way of avoiding joining the army. If you apply for the passport of Vanuatu, Dominica, or Grenada, you and your children will not be liable for conscription. Why is it so? Because there are no armed forces in these countries! All the three countries mentioned above administer citizenship-by-investment programs and the required investment amounts are comparatively modest in all three cases.
|You may become liable for conscription when you acquire second citizenship in some countries |
When choosing where to apply for second citizenship, you have to find out about the military service. Turkey and Egypt, for example, have citizenship-by-investment programs but they practice conscription.
A soldier or an army officer holding two or more passports may also face a different kind of problem. If you are a citizen of the United States and you join the army of another national state, you might lose your American citizenship under certain conditions. For example, if you have voluntarily joined foreign armed forces and your second home country enters a military conflict with the USA, your American citizenship will be terminated.
|Second citizenship can bring new tax planning instruments |
Second citizenship of some countries can give you attractive tax planning opportunities. Some Caribbean states, for example, have lower tax rates than those found in well-developed countries. Thus, acquiring second citizenship can help you design a more efficient tax strategy.
|Second citizenship can bring new tax obligations |
If you would like to use the fiscal benefits available in a low-tax jurisdiction, you would have to become a tax resident there, as a rule. Now, you have to physically reside in the jurisdiction to acquire this status. A professional consultation on this matter will come in especially handy as national tax legislations have been changing dramatically over the recent years.
Please also mind that in case one of your passports is a US passport, you will have to pay taxes to Uncle Sam wherever you obtain an income. The same is true for American green card holders.
|Second citizenship gives access to international banking services |
When you hold a passport of a reputable western country, for example, you can set up bank accounts in ease in a number of foreign states. This opportunity should be especially interesting to those who have trouble obtaining banking service in foreign countries with their home countries’ passports. European banks do not welcome American citizens, for example, because if they take them onboard, the associated reporting is going to be overwhelming. If you come to a European bank with a European passport, they will be happy to provide services to you.
|You may have to prove that you have ‘close ties’ with the country whose passport you hold in order to open a foreign bank account |
In some cases, the bank will want you to be not only a passport holder but also a resident of the country. This means that you might have to submit a tax residence certificate or recent utility bills to prove that. If you would like to use your Caribbean passport for opening a foreign bank account, you can make use of concierge services to obtain the certificates.
|Second citizenship allows easily buying real estate in the foreign country |
In some countries, foreigners face some obstacles when trying to buy a piece of real estate. If you are a citizen of the country where you would like to purchase real property, you are going to have no problems with that whatsoever.
This opportunity may be of interest to those individuals who travel between two (or more) countries often and they want to have a place to stay in every country. Owning a house or an apartment in the country that you visit frequently can be more economical than staying at a hotel or using a rental apartment. Foreign property can also be of interest to investors.
|Owning real property in some countries may have tax consequences |
Paying the property tax is not a big deal as it is rather small in most cases. There may be other tax implications, however, in some places. For example, if you invest in real estate in Spain, you can become eligible for a residence permit in the country and after a few years, for full citizenship of Spain. You have to be aware though that Spain taxes its citizens and legal residents on their global incomes. Thus, your house in Spain may make the local tax authorities start wondering where you got the money from. That is to say, they may want to tax the income that you have made in another country.
|Countries issuing passports to foreigners attract capital from abroad in this way |
We have been looking at second citizenship opportunities from the passport holder’s point of view but national states running citizenship-by-investment programs pursue their own goal too. Such programs are mainly used to attract foreign direct investments.
European countries charge more for their citizenship while Caribbean countries charge less. In any case, the Governments of the countries use the foreign investments to finance various socially important projects.
|A new citizen can potentially do harm to the international image of the host country |
Even though a person applying for citizenship by investment in a foreign country brings money, he or she can potentially cause some problems. For instance, a criminal will be happy to have a foreign passport so he/ she can flee in case charges are filed against him/ her at home. This is the reason why all national states granting citizenship to foreign investors conduct stringent due diligence checks. You have to realize that bringing the money is not enough for acquiring second citizenship. You have to be a law-abiding person in addition to being affluent.
|You can acquire second citizenship for members of your family too |
All countries granting citizenship to foreign investors allow including your relatives in the application for citizenship. In some cases, you can acquire second citizenship only for your core family members (spouse and children) while in other cases, you can bring your parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters with you. Some Caribbean countries in particular, make very attractive offers to immigrants with large families.
|You have to pay more for second citizenship by investment if you are applying you’re your family |
Additional payments will be required if you are applying for second citizenship for your family members. One thing is that the required investment amount is going to be larger in many cases. Another thing is that all adult family members have to undergo due diligence procedures as well as medical examinations and this fact entails additional costs too. There are also passport issuance fees and the more passports you need, the higher the aggregate fee is going to be. Sometimes you may find that acquiring second citizenship for a family of four will cost almost twice as much as acquiring second citizenship for a single person.
|Theoretically, you can infinitely extend your passport collection |
You can acquire second citizenship confidentially. Most countries granting citizenship to foreigners do not publish their names anywhere. So even if your home country’s legislation prohibits dual citizenship, the authorities are never going to learn that you hold a foreign passport unless you inform them about it yourself. This means that you can build a collection of foreign passports and enjoy the benefits that each of them brings.
|You may lose one of your passports if are not careful enough |
In case dual citizenship is prohibited in your home country, and the authorities find out that you have a foreign passport, you may get yourself in hot water. You may be forced to renounce one citizenship – of your home country or the foreign one.
Ukraine, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Singapore, among others, disallow dual citizenship. So before you apply for second citizenship, you have to find out with your home country’s authorities what consequences you might face. (The Chinese authorities, for example, officially prohibit dual citizenship but in practice, they do not mind their citizens obtaining foreign passports. The largest number of investors in second citizenship are of Chinese origin.)
|Second citizenship extends your horizons |
Your perspectives are going to expand when you have an opportunity to immerse in a culture that is different from your own. Learning a foreign language, a new lifestyle, a new business culture, and so on is extremely exciting and it brings many practical benefits.
Second citizenship also brings psychological benefits, among other things. Holders of multiple passports feel freer inside and more self-confident because they know that they are welcome to stay in more than one national state for as long as they wish.
|You can lose your second citizenship due to factors beyond your control |
Imagine that you have passports of two countries and they are suddenly … at war with each other. In this case, you will have a hard choice to make and depending on what country you find yourself in when the war breaks out, you may face some serious trouble.
Besides, the legislation of one of the countries whose passports you hold can change overnight. This is also beyond the scope of your control and you have to bear in mind that some unfortunate circumstance might make you renounce one of your citizenships and burn the passport. из-за
All in all, acquiring second citizenship is very attractive for many reasons. It will give you new travel opportunities, more assuredness of political and economic stability as well as personal security, access to international banking services, more opportunities to invest abroad, integrate in a new culture, and so on and so forth. At the same time, some disadvantages are also associated with second citizenship so you have to weigh all pros and cons when deliberating applying for a second passport.
If you would like to give the opportunity of acquiring second citizenship serious consideration and you have questions related to the matter, please do not hesitate to contact our investment immigration specialists. You are welcome to write to email@example.com or use any other means of communication that you prefer (see the ‘Contact us’ icon at the top of the page).
What are the main advantages of second citizenship?
The main advantages of second citizenship include the following ones: ease of travel, assuredness of political and economic stability and personal security, access to international banking services, more opportunities to invest abroad, an opportunity to avoid military service, and new tax planning instruments. A fast and simple way of acquiring second citizenship is to invest in the host country’s economy.
What are the main disadvantages of second citizenship?
The most affordable citizenship by investment can be acquired for US$ 100,000. The amount is quite substantial for many. Acquiring citizenship by naturalization takes a long time. A pro forma marriage to a foreign individual may lead to imprisonment in some cases. You may have to join the army in your new home country. A second passport will be an obstacle for your political career. You might become a target for terrorists if you hold the passport of a rich country.
What is the fastest way of acquiring second citizenship?
The fastest way of acquiring second citizenship is to invest in the passport of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean or the passport of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Both countries process applications for citizenship within six weeks or so. The cost is about the same in both countries.