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Dual and second citizenship: what’s the difference between the notions

The main difference between second and dual citizenship lies in the existence of agreements between countries and in how the state considers the status of a bipatride. A country can consider a person only its citizen, even if such a person has two passports, or recognize his rights and obligations in relation to another country.

Dual citizenship and second citizenship: what is the difference and what are the differences between these concepts

What is dual and second citizenship

Dual citizenship implies that a person has passports of two countries, and both states recognize the rights and obligations of a person in relation to each country at the official level.

People with dual citizenship can choose in which country to serve in the military, and their children receive two passports at birth.

Dual citizenship is based on bilateral agreements between states. For example, such agreements exist between Spain and its former colonies: Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Colombia.

To obtain dual citizenship, certain conditions are to be met. For example:

  • child’s parents have citizenship of different countries;
  • the state border of the country has changed;
  • a child is adopted by a foreigner;
  • a person received citizenship by naturalization or repatriation.

Second citizenship implies that a person has passports of different countries. At the same time, countries do not recognize the rights and obligations of a bipatride in relation to other states. Each country considers a bipatride only as its own subject.

Public authorities may not be aware of a person's second citizenship if the law does not require notification of its existence. If there is such a legal requirement, a fine or criminal liability could be imposed for failing to notify the government about a second citizenship.

In most cases, citizenship of any other country will be considered the second. A passport can be obtained in different ways: for example, by participating in investment programs, naturalization or marriage.

Advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship

A person with dual citizenship has all the rights of citizens of both states, but he cannot use them at the same time: they work only in the country where he lives. For example, a bipatride will not enjoy benefits in Spain if he lives in Argentina.

The advantages of being a bipatride include the right to travel between the two countries without visas, the ability to do business in both countries. A person with dual citizenship can apply for diplomatic assistance to the missions of both countries while in a third country.

Civil obligations remain in relation to both states and take effect in the country of residence. For example, a citizen is obliged to pay taxes and serve on conscription in the army of the country where he lives. However, some responsibilities do not need to be fulfilled in both countries.

A man with dual citizenship of Spain and Argentina lived in Spain, therefore he served in the Spanish army and paid taxes to the budget of this country. Having moved to Argentina, he begins to pay taxes there, but his military service no longer needs to be served.

Dual citizenship: Madrid, Spain
The Cibeles Palace in Madrid. Spain has agreements on dual citizenship with its 12 former colonies. Their citizens don’t have to renounce the first citizenship to get a Spanish passport

Advantages and disadvantages of second citizenship

A second citizenship can give advantages that bipatrides with dual citizenship do not have. For example, travel without a visa to the Schengen countries, the UK and the USA, or choose one of the EU countries for life.

Cosmopolitans receive a second citizenship in order to:

  • travel freely around the world;
  • to work abroad;
  • have a "plan B" in case of instability in the country of residence;
  • provide children with quality education and the opportunity to get a job in another country;
  • enjoy social guarantees in both countries;
  • open accounts and business abroad;
  • optimize taxes.

The disadvantages of second citizenship are due to the fact that each of the countries recognizes bipatride only as its own citizen. So, in some cases, a person with a second citizenship will have to serve in the army in both countries.

A person with a second citizenship will not be able to hold high government posts. For example, they are usually not allowed to work for the prosecutor's office, be members of the Government, or gain access to state secrets.

Which countries recognize the second citizenship, and which countries don’t

Many countries around the world allow multiple citizenship. But in some states it is not possible to have several passports: for example, in Germany, in most cases, you will have to renounce all other citizenships in order to obtain a German passport.

Countries where second citizenship is allowed
Albania  Algeria Angola
Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia
Australia Bangladesh Barbados
Belgium Belize Bolivia
Brazil Canada Cape Verde
Chile Colombia Costa Rica
Côte d’Ivoire Cyprus Czech Republic
Denmark Dominica Dominican Republic
East Timor Ecuador Egypt
Fiji Finland France
Ghana Greece Grenada
Honduras Hong Kong Hungary
Iceland Iraq Ireland
Israel Italy Jamaica
Jordan Kenya Latvia
Lebanon Libya Luxembourg
Macedonia Maldives Malta
Morocco Mauritius Mexico
Nauru New Zealand Pakistan
Palau Palestine Panama
Paraguay Peru Philippines
Portugal Romania Russia
Samoa Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia
Serbia South Africa Sri Lanka
Sudan Syria Sweden
Switzerland Trinidad Tunisia
Turkey Tuvalu UK
Uruguay USA Vanuatu
Countries that allow a second citizenship in exceptional cases
Afghanistan Austria Bosnia
Bulgaria Croatia El Salvador
Eritrea Estonia Georgia
Germany Guatemala Guyana
Liechtenstein Lithuania Moldova
Montenegro Namibia Netherlands
Nicaragua Nigeria Norway
Poland Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Seychelles
Slovenia South Africa Spain
Taiwan Tanzania
Countries that do not recognize and prohibit second citizenship
Andorra Azerbaijan Bahamas
Bahrain Belarus Bhutan 
Botswana China Congo
Cuba Djibouti Ethiopia
Haiti India Indonesia
Iran Japan Kazakhstan
Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos
Macao Malaysia Marshall Islands
Micronesia Monaco Mongolia
Mozambique Myanmar Nepal
North Korea Oman Papua New Guinea
Qatar San Marino Saudi Arabia
Singapore Slovakia Solomon Islands
Swaziland Tajikistan Thailand
Tonga Turkmenistan Ukraine
UAE Uzbekistan Venezuela
Vietnam Yemen Zimbabwe
Second citizenship: Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, capital of Portugal. A residence permit in this country is issued for investments of €250,000, and after five years the investor can obtain a second citizenship

What duties and rights arise when obtaining a second citizenship

Duties. Countries that grant citizenship usually do not report this to the authorities of other countries. If a person decides to hide the fact of having a second passport, then the executive bodies may not find out about it. But if they find out, the citizen faces criminal liability if it is prescribed by law of the country.

If a citizen has acquired a second citizenship, he is obliged to maintain the status of a citizen of both countries and comply with their laws, e.g. pay taxes.

By itself, a second citizenship does not lead to an obligation to pay taxes in both countries. Taxation depends on the country of tax residence and source of income. For example, if a French citizen moved to a country of second citizenship and became a tax resident there, but continues to receive income from sources in France, he may have an obligation to pay taxes in both countries.

Rights. Bipatrides have practically all the rights and obligations of citizens of both countries. They can live there, work, be treated, and educate children. A second passport can expand travel opportunities, e.g. cosmopolitans with Caribbean citizenship visit the Schengen countries without a visa.

How to obtain second citizenship

Legal residence on the territory of the country for several years, marriage with its citizen, the desire to return to the historical homeland can be the basis for obtaining a second citizenship. The methods of obtaining status and the requirements for applicants depend on the laws of the state.

Some countries issue citizenship by investment in the economy, e.g. a non-refundable contribution to a government fund, purchase of real estate or bonds, investment in business. It is easier for investors to obtain citizenship than for other applicants: there is no need to pass exams on knowledge of the language or social structure of the country, and in some cases even to come there. Relatives of investors can also participate in the programs and get a second passport.

A number of requirements are imposed on participants in investment programs: have no criminal record, no visa or citizenship denials, a clean reputation, legally earned money for investment. To make sure that the applicant meets the requirements, a Due Diligence check is carried out.

Investors can get second citizenship in many countries of the world. Let's talk about popular options.

Citizenship of the Caribbean countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Investors receive a passport remotely, the procedure takes several months.

Cosmopolitans acquire Caribbean citizenship in order to:

  • travel without visas to 140+ countries of the world, including the UK and the countries of the Schengen zone;
  • get a tourist visa B-1 / B-2 in the United States for 10 years;
  • open accounts with European banks for a second passport;
  • optimize taxation by opening a company and changing the country of tax residence;
  • be able to go on vacation even if the borders are closed.

Additional opportunities are provided by Grenadian citizenship. Investors with a passport of this country can visit China without a visa and obtain an E-2 business visa in the United States.

The minimum investment amount depends on the program. The lowest amount is provided for options with a contribution to the state fund. In Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Saint Lucia, investments in the fund are starting from $100,000, and in Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis — from $150,000.

minimum investment for obtaining Caribbean citizenship

Options allowing to return the investment are available for all Caribbean programs. For example, an investor can buy a share in a hotel on the islands and sell it in 5-7 years.

Vanuatu citizenship is the fastest way to get a second passport in the world. Investors become citizens of the country in one to two months.

Visa-free travel to the Schengen and the UK, the ability to obtain a tourist visa to the United States for 5 years are the advantages available to investors with a Vanuatu passport.

The program provides a contribution to the state fund as an investment option. The amount of investment under the program depends on the composition of the family, the minimum is $130,000.

minimum investment amount for obtaining citizenship of Vanuatu

Vanuatu is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean bordering Australia, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Fiji. An investor does not need to fly there to obtain citizenship. The procedure includes taking an oath, for which the commissioner and the employee of the migration service are invited to a place convenient for investors.

Maltese citizenship can be obtained for exceptional services by direct investment. Investors go through the naturalization procedure: first, they receive a residence permit, and after one or three years they apply for citizenship.

Malta is part of the European Union and the Schengen area. A residence permit allows you to live in this country and travel without a visa within the Schengen area. Maltese citizenship gives you even more opportunities:

  • travel without visas to 185 countries, including the Schengen states, Great Britain, USA, Canada and Australia;
  • living in Malta;
  • moving to any EU country under a simplified procedure;
  • education of children in European schools and universities;
  • registration of a company in the European Union;
  • treatment in European clinics;
  • change of country of tax residence.

Investments for obtaining Maltese citizenship start from €690,000. Investors make a contribution to the National Development Fund and a charitable donation, buy real estate or rent it for five years. The amount of investment depends on the composition of the investor's family and the period for applying for citizenship.

Citizenship of the EU countries by naturalization. An investor can obtain a residence permit in Portugal, Greece, Austria or Switzerland, permanent residence in Malta or Cyprus. After several years of residence in the country, he is eligible to apply for citizenship.

A residence permit in Portugal by investment allows you to apply for citizenship after five years. At the same time, you do not need to live in the country as it is enough to come for seven days a year. In other countries, you need to permanently reside for a certain period in order to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

Spain also offers residence by investment. But this country is not suitable for obtaining a second passport, because it does not allow its citizens to have multiple citizenships. It is impossible to keep the first passport: if the Spanish authorities find that the investor has not renounced his first citizenship, they will take the Spanish passport and ban the entry into the country for several years.

Frequently asked questions

What is “dual citizenship”?

Dual citizenship is possible only if two states have entered into a special agreement between themselves. This means that a person has two passports, while the authorities of both countries know about this through official sources and recognize both citizenships as equal. A person with dual citizenship has rights and obligations in relation to both states, but they can be distributed. For example, if a person has completed compulsory military service in one country, he is not subject to conscription in another. A person will pay taxes and receive social benefits in the state in which he permanently resides.

What is second citizenship and how to obtain it?

Second citizenship is obtained in countries that do not have agreements on the recognition of dual citizenship with the person’s home country. Moreover, each state considers such a person exclusively its subjects and may not be aware of his other citizenship. You can get a second citizenship in different ways: for example, through naturalization after several years of residence, marriage or an investment program.

What is the difference between dual and second citizenship?

The main difference between dual and second citizenship is the presence or absence of a special agreement between countries. It also defines the rights and obligations of the holder of two passports. If the countries have concluded an agreement between themselves, then they recognize a person with dual citizenship, or bipatride, as an equal subject of both states. At the same time, countries exchange information and regulate the distribution of the rights and duties of a citizen. Second citizenship implies that there is no agreement between the countries. In this case, each of the states considers a person to be only its own citizen. He may have the same responsibilities in both countries, e.g. to serve on conscription in two armies.

Which countries grant a second citizenship by investment?

The Caribbean countries grant citizenship in exchange of investment in the amount of $100,000 or more. The process of obtaining a passport takes three to six months. The second citizenship of these countries allows you to travel to the UK and Schengen without a visa, obtain a tourist visa to the United States for 10 years, develop international business and optimize taxes. Investors receive Vanuatu citizenship in one to two months. Investments start from $130,000. Bipatrides can travel without visas to the United Kingdom and the United States, obtain a tourist visa to the United States immediately for 5 years and optimize company taxes. Maltese citizenship for exceptional services is obtained by naturalization: first a residence permit, and after one or three years – citizenship. The minimum investment amount is €690,000. Citizens of Malta can travel without visas to 185 countries, live in Malta or move to another EU country under a simplified procedure.

What are the benefits of a second citizenship obtained by investment?

The second passport obtained by investment is a long-term travel document that gives access to the rights and privileges of a citizen of another country. The advantages of a second passport:

  • visa-free travel around the world;
  • the opportunity to live, work and do business, study on the territory of the country itself and the states with which the country of second citizenship has appropriate agreements;
  • access to the services of international banks to store savings and speed up foreign exchange transactions;
  • the ability to optimize taxation for yourself and your business;
  • access to foreign medicine and education;
  • the ability to quickly leave the country in case of political or economic instability.
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Dual and second citizenship: what’s the difference between the notions