Second citizenship can significantly improve your quality of life: it offers you the freedom to travel without visas, the opportunity to give your children a prestigious international education and can help you develop your business abroad. However, it does not entitle the holder to work in government agencies, and under certain circumstances, you might have to pay higher taxes in your country of origin.
How does a second citizenship differ from dual citizenship?
A holder of multiple passports can have dual citizenship, a second citizenship or multiple citizenships.
Dual citizenship implies that the two concerned states mutually recognize that their citizen is also a citizen of the other state. A dual citizen pays taxes and usually does compulsory military service (if applicable) in their country of residence. Usually, the treaty between the two countries specifies that the dual citizen will need to do compulsory service (if applicable) in only one of the two countries. Similarly, the treaty usually prevents the dual citizen from being liable to double taxation.
Only citizens of countries between which a corresponding agreement has been signed can obtain dual citizenship.
In the case of second citizenship, each of the two countries considers the person only as its own citizen.
A second citizenship can be obtained if you have lived in the country for several years as a resident. Some countries issue passports by investment. This is a faster and easier way to get a second passport.
Although most countries allow their citizens to get a second citizenship, some countries are opposed to their citizens being granted second passports and also do not issue second passports to citizens of other countries. For example, India, China, UAE, Singapore, Japan, and Ukraine do not grant a foreigner citizenship unless the applicant renounces their original/existing citizenship.
Advantages of second citizenship
Travel without visas. Each country has its own agreements with other countries. A second citizenship can allow holders of a second passport to travel without a visa to many countries.
The United Kingdom, United States, China and the EU countries require a visa for citizens of most countries in the world. However, obtaining a second citizenship offers applicants the opportunity to travel to these and other countries without a visa. For example, a second passport by investment issued by a Caribbean country, Vanuatu or Malta allows the holder to travel to the Schengen countries without a visa.
🌎 Visa-free travel with a second citizenship
|Citizenship||Number of visa-free countries||Popular destinations|
|Malta||188||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|Antigua and Barbuda||151||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|Grenada||144||Schengen countries, United Kingdom , China, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|Dominica||143||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|St Kitts and Nevis||157||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|Saint Lucia||146||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore|
|Vanuatu||135||Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore|
Better conditions for obtaining visas to the USA. A second passport improves your chances of obtaining visas to the United States and many other countries. Citizens of numerous countries often face insurmountable difficulties in obtaining a visa to the United States. In 2020, US consulates in a large number of countries stopped accepting applications for visas. Applications started being accepted again in March 2021, but interviews were offered in only a limited number of countries.
Second citizenship makes it easier to obtain a visa to the United States. Holders of second citizenships issued by the Caribbean countries can apply for a 10-year U.S. B1/B2 tourist visa immediately. It takes only about 2 weeks to issue.
Citizens of Grenada can obtain an E2 U.S. business visa. For this visa, the applicant opens or buys a business in the United States and invests a significant amount in it. There is no minimum threshold, but usually the minimum investment in a business is $100,000.
An E2 visa allows the holder to move to the United States. However, it is not available to citizens of most countries. Citizens of numerous other countries may either not be eligible for a business visa or it may cost much more. For example, the EB5 passive investor visa requires a minimum investment of $900,000. In order to get the E2 U.S. visa, citizens from these countries need to obtain a second citizenship.
Education and treatment abroad. Second citizenship allows you to visit some countries without a visa, and in some cases to stay there for an unlimited time period. The children of cosmopolitans often do not need a student visa and are allowed without any restrictions to look for work abroad when they finish their studies.
In many countries, foreign students are given an extremely short time period to look for a job after university. For example, in Switzerland, you need to find a job within six months from the date of graduation, and in the UK, within 4 months. Otherwise, you have to return to your country of origin.
Children of second passport holders get the opportunity to visit these countries without a visa, and in some cases, to live there on a permanent basis. This increases the chances of finding a job, because it makes it easier to look for work and come to interviews.
Usually a medical visa is required for medical treatment abroad. It is issued for a period from 2 days to several weeks. Second citizenship means that you do not have to wait and can immediately fly to the country selected by you for the treatment.
If a holder of a second passport issued by a Caribbean country urgently needs to fly to a clinic in Germany, Switzerland or the UK, they can enter without a visa and stay there for up to 3 months.
Malta participates in the US Visa Waiver program, so its citizens do not need a US medical visa for treatment up to 90 days.
Tax optimization. Second citizenship allows you to settle in another country and become tax resident there, or register a company there and pay taxes at the local rate.
Business development abroad. A second citizenship also offers you the opportunity to register companies abroad. This makes it easier to do international business: it allows you to open accounts in foreign banks and make settlements with business partners without having to worry about currency control limitations.
The Caribbean countries do not disclose information about the beneficial owners of companies registered there. Information on the beneficial owner is not entered in the companies’ register during the formation of the company.
Possibility to move to another country. There are numerous cases of people getting a second citizenship in order to move to the selected country.
A Grenada passport allows you to move to Grenada or get an E2 visa to the United States. Malta is a member of the European Union, so its citizens can move to any country in the European Union.
Disadvantages of second citizenship
Mandatory notification. Many countries require their citizens to notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs usually within a period of 1-–2 months after obtaining a second citizenship. Any delay or concealment of information, can result in administrative or criminal liability.
Second passport holders usually cannot work in government agencies or hold elective office.
In certain circumstances, a second passport holder may also be liable to pay higher taxes. For example, if they cease to be a tax resident in their country of origin and it charges a higher tax rate on income earned on its territory by non-residents.
Non-residents also may, in certain cases, no longer be eligible to receive a tax deduction in their country of origin.
Difficulties in the event of a conflict between countries. Since both countries recognize the person only as “their citizen”, the second passport holder may, for example, have to do compulsory military service in both countries.
This does not apply to participants in citizenship by investment programs. As a rule, investors and their family members are not required to serve in the army of the country of second citizenship.
Frequently Asked Questions
- freedom to travel without a visa to countries where you would otherwise need a visa;
- simplified procedure to obtain a U.S. visa;
- move to a country with a more pleasant climate or a more developed economy;
- form/develop companies abroad;
The terms and benefits of a second citizenship vary by country.
Holders of a second citizenship are usually not allowed to work in public services or be elected to government bodies.
If a holder of a second citizenship ceases to be a tax resident in their country of origin, the tax rates on income earned there, as well as other taxes, could be higher for non-residents.
Sometimes a holder of a second citizenship may have to do national service in the army in both countries. However, usually this does not apply to those who received a second passport by investment.
The law in most countries requires you to inform the Ministry of Internal Affairs in your original country of the fact that you have received a second citizenship, usually within a period of 1–2 months after receiving the second passport.
A second citizenship can be obtained in different ways: getting a residence permit and living in the country for several years, by marriage, or repatriation. Also, a child can receive dual citizenship at birth.
You can obtain citizenship without long-term residence in the country by participating in the citizenship by investment program. Passports can be granted by countries in the Caribbean and Vanuatu in exchange for a minimum investment of $100,000.
In Malta, citizenship can be obtained by naturalization for exceptional services by direct investment. For this, you need to obtain a residence permit and invest €690,000. Depending on the investment amount, a passport is issued after 1 to 3 years after the residence permit.