Citizenship
April 22, 2024
Reading Time: 6 min

9 pros and cons of dual citizenship

Holding multiple citizenships provides a person with a number of benefits, such as freedom of travel, the ability to choose the more advanced healthcare system, and wider educational opportunities.

However, there are some cons to holding two passports, too.

Vladlena Baranova
Vladlena Baranova

Listed all the pros and cons of holding multiple citizenships

Dual citizenship pros and cons

9 pros and cons of dual citizenship

What is dual citizenship, and how is it different from second citizenship

Dual citizenship and second citizenship are not interchangeable terms. Both of them imply having passports of two different states, but the conditions are not the same.

Dual citizenship means being a citizen of two countries that have entered a bilateral agreement. Both states in that agreement recognise the rights and obligations of dual citizens in the other country.

People with dual citizenship pay taxes and perform military duty in their country of residence. They are protected from double taxation.

Second citizenship implies holding passports of two countries that do not have any agreements on that matter.

In this case, each country allows its citizens to hold passports of other states but does not recognise their rights and obligations in relation to those states. For example, a person with a second passport might have to pay taxes in both countries.

People usually get second citizenship by naturalisation, descent, birth, or marriage. High-net-worth individuals can also obtain second passports by investment.

6 benefits of holding dual or second citizenship

While dual citizenship gives its holder more freedom in terms of taxes and other obligations, the majority of the benefits of the two statuses overlap.

1. Travel opportunities. A dual citizen can use either of their passports to travel to their desired destination with simplified or no visa requirements.

For example, a citizen of Algeria who also holds a passport of Portugal can enter the Schengen states with their Portuguese passport to skip all the visa hassle. Likewise, when planning to travel to the USA, they can get an eTA in 30 minutes as a citizen of Portugal instead of going through a complex visa application process.

2. Business opportunities. Both dual and second citizenship statuses allow for the choice of a country with a more favourable environment for starting a business.

Business-friendly conditions can include a stable economy, a beneficial taxation system, government support for startups, the percentage of employees with higher education, etc.

The best countries for business are Denmark, Germany, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Hungary, and the UAE, according to Ceoworld Magazine.

3. Political rights. Citizens of a country have full political rights regardless of the passports of other countries they might hold. Multiple passport holders can vote and participate in the civil and political life of both states of their citizenship. They can enter their country of citizenship at any given time with no conditions.

People with dual or multiple citizenship can work in their countries, own property, and benefit from social benefits.

4. More options for education. A second passport allows its holder and their children to choose the country for education and study at local universities without paying increased tuition fees.

In some cases, second citizenship opens up opportunities not in one but in several countries. For instance, a citizen of any EU state can study at universities all over the Union without having to pay foreign student tuition fees.

5. Possibility to lighten the tax burden. In many cases, multiple citizenships provide its holder with an option to cut their tax payments. The person can pick the country with a more beneficial taxation regime to become a tax resident.

Some countries don’t oblige their citizens to pay income taxes; others don’t charge income earned abroad or income on wealth, inheritance or gift. Some countries that allow their citizens to minimise the tax burden are Antigua and Barbuda, the UAE, and Vanuatu.

After comparing the options and choosing the more beneficial state in terms of taxes, a person with multiple citizenships needs to become a tax resident of a chosen country. Usually, this requires residing in that country for at least six months per year.

6. Ability to choose a better healthcare system. A person with two citizenships can choose the country with a more advanced healthcare system to get medical help.

For instance, a citizen of the USA with a Malta passport can take advantage of their free medical insurance in Malta instead of paying for one in the USA.

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Disadvantages of second and dual citizenship

There are some drawbacks to holding multiple citizenships, too. Most of them are potential risks, not inevitable.

Potential of double taxation. The risk of double taxation is the flip side of the opportunity to reduce taxes for dual citizens. Depending on the country and its laws, this risk appears for foreign income or property tax.

Exempt from some career paths. Another reason dual citizenship might be bad is that in some countries, dual-nationals cannot work in government bodies and won’t have the opportunity to become judges, ministers, or deputies.

Military obligation. If a person with multiple citizenships serves in the military in one of their states, they might lose their other passports. This, however, is a very rare situation and depends on the laws of each particular state.

How to get dual or second citizenship

Each country defines its rules for granting citizenship to foreign nationals. Usually, all the ways can be divided into three categories: descent, naturalisation, and investment.

Investment. Many countries offer foreign nationals citizenship-by-investment programs. Applicants must invest in the country’s economy — for example, contribute to a governmental fund, purchase real estate or fund a business. After that, investors are granted citizenship.

The process usually takes 6—8 months. The investor can add family members to the application and provide them with passports, too.

The investor does not have to prove their ties with the country or learn the national language to be granted citizenship. The main requirements for investors usually include being over 18 years old and providing proof that their income is legal.

Countries to obtain citizenship by investment

Country

Minimal investment

Timeframe

Family members

$250,000

6+ months

Spouse

Children under 30

Parents

Siblings

$150,000

$200,000 by June 30th, 2024

6+ months

Spouse

Children under 30

Parents

Siblings

$100,000

$200,000 by June 30th, 2024

4—6 months

Spouse

Children under 30

Parents

Siblings

$100,000

$200,000 by June 30th, 2024

3—6 months

Spouse

Children under 30

Parents

Siblings

$100,000 until June 30th, 2024, $200,000 after

3—6 months

Spouse

Children under 30

Parents

€690,000

1 or 3 years

Spouse or registered partner

Children under 29

Parents over 55

Grandparents over 55

$130,000

1+ month

Spouse

Children under 25

Parents over 50

$400,000

6—8 months

Spouse

Children under 18

$250,000

6+ months

Spouse

Children under 21

Descent. Citizenship by descent is available to foreign nationals who have direct ascendants among another state’s citizens. This usually applies to the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of a country’s nationals.

Some countries, like Greece and Malta, grant citizenship by descent to younger generations too.

The process of obtaining citizenship by descent is usually relatively quick and takes up to several months.

Naturalisation is the process of a person making strong connections in a country over many years. People can reside in foreign countries for work, studies, business purposes, or after marrying a citizen of that state.

Usually, this path takes many years and requires candidates for naturalisation to pass language and culture exams. Basically, being a naturalized citizen means having spent over five years in a country and built strong economic and cultural ties with it.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

How to obtain dual citizenship as an American citizen

According to the official website of the US Department of State, American citizens do not have to choose one nationality over the other if they are to obtain second or dual citizenship. They can also naturalise in another country without risking a US passport to enjoy the perks of dual citizenship.

Nevertheless, individuals with dual nationality bear allegiance to the United States and the foreign nation. They are obligated to adhere to the legal frameworks of both nations. Each country possesses the authority to enforce its laws, especially if the individual travels there a lot.

Most US citizens, encompassing dual nationals, must utilise a US passport for their travels to and from the United States. Additionally, dual nationals might be compelled by the foreign nation to employ their passports for entry and exit. The utilisation of a foreign passport does not jeopardise US citizenship.

Benefits of having dual citizenship as an American citizen

Albert Einstein, born a German, receiving from Judge Phillip Forman his certificate of American citizenship. Picture taken by Al. Aumuller, source: Library of Congress

Things to know about dual citizenship

  1. Dual citizenship entails being a citizen of two countries bound by a bilateral agreement wherein both states recognise the rights and duties of dual citizens within each other’s borders.

  2. Dual citizens pay taxes, fulfil military obligations in their country of residence, and are safeguarded from double taxation. Conversely, second citizenship involves holding passports of two countries lacking any agreements regarding citizenship matters.

  3. The pros and cons of dual citizenship vary. Dual citizens significantly increase their global mobility, business, and education opportunities. Besides, dual citizenship may be a solution to a tax burden. At the same time, dual citizenship might sometimes imply double taxation.

  4. American citizens do not have to choose one nationality over the other if they are to obtain second or dual citizenship.

  5. Dual citizenship can be obtained by investment. This way, investors are not required to reside permanently in the country they get a second passport.

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Passports of different countries

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you be a citizen in two countries?

    Yes, if none of these countries does not restrict their citizens to obtain passports of other states. There are over 60 states in the world that allow having second citizenship.

  • How many citizenships can you have?

    If a country allows its citizens to hold passports of other countries, then they can obtain as many as they want. You can have dual citizenship, triple citizenship or more. There are no international limitations to that.

  • How to get a second citizenship?

    Generally, there are three ways to obtain citizenship of a country: by descent, naturalisation or investment. The latter option does not require the candidates to have strong financial or cultural ties with the country or have relatives among its nationals.

  • Does the US allow dual citizenship?

    Yes, the USA is among the countries that allow their citizens to hold passports of other countries.

  • What countries allow dual citizenship?

    There are over 60 countries that allow their citizens to hold multiple citizenships. Denmark, Spain, Italy, the USA, and Australia are among them.

  • How does dual citizenship work?

    Dual citizenship implies being a citizen of two countries that have entered a bilateral agreement. Both states in that agreement recognise the rights and obligations of dual citizens in the other country.

    Citizens of countries who have such an agreement can choose the country to pay taxes in and serve in the military, if necessary.

  • Do you pay taxes if you have dual citizenship?

    Dual citizenship implies being a citizen of two states that are in a special agreement with each other. The countries recognise the rights and obligations of dual citizens in the other state. This means that a person with dual citizenship will pay taxes only in one of these states — the one they reside in.

    When it comes to second citizenship, there is a potential risk of double taxation. To avoid that, one needs to unregister as a tax resident in one of the countries.

    There are no special taxes for dual citizenship.

  • Can a US citizen hold dual citizenship?

    The USA allows its citizens to hold a passport of a different country. There are over 60 countries where US citizens can get a second passport.

  • Can you travel out on one passport and back on another?

    It’s necessary to show the same travel document when entering and exiting a country. However, at the new destination, a dual citizen can present whatever document is more convenient.

    For example, a person with Armenia and Malta passports will need to show their Maltese document when arriving in any Schengen state and leaving it. But they can show their Armenian passport in the destination country if it’s more suitable. This can be the case if they travel, for instance, from Europe to China, which has a visa-free regime with Armenia.

  • What is the easiest dual citizenship?

    The fastest way to obtain dual citizenship is by investment. Several countries offer such an opportunity. In the Caribbean, foreigners obtain citizenship by investment of at least $100,000. By June 30th, the minimum investment is to double.

    Dual citizenship obtained by investment grants the same dual citizenship advantages as if a foreigner was naturalised abroad.

  • How long can you have dual citizenship, and can it expire?

    The duration of dual citizenship depends on the laws and regulations of the countries involved. In many cases, dual citizenship is indefinite and does not expire unless a person voluntarily renounces one of their citizenships.

    Some countries may have provisions that automatically revoke citizenship under certain circumstances. Individuals with dual citizenship need to understand each country’s specific laws and regulations to avoid inadvertently losing their citizenship status.

  • What is the maximum number of citizenship that you can hold?

    The maximum number of citizenships an individual can hold is not universally defined and varies depending on the laws and policies of the countries involved.

    In practice, individuals can hold citizenship from several countries. Still, they should be aware of the potential legal implications, advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship, and obligations associated with each citizenship.

    In the United States, theoretically, there is no restriction on the number of citizenships you can possess. You could potentially hold passports from numerous countries, including a dozen or more, unless they all allow multiple citizenship.