In theory, an individual is allowed to have a passport for each country they are a citizen of. However, this may be less straightforward based on the countries in question.
The rules depend on the individual who is attempting to obtain more than one passport, as well as the independent legislation of each country they wish to be a national of.
How Many Citizenships Can a Person Have?
In theory, there is no limit to the number of citizenships that one person can hold, providing it is lawful to have more than one in all the countries involved.
Whether you can have dual nationality, or multiple nationalities, depends on the citizenship laws in each nation you are part of.
Examples of multiple nationality
Multiple nationality allows you to hold citizenship in more than one nation, without losing the rights to your original nationality.
Some countries, such as the UK and Canada, allow their citizens to have two or more nationalities. This means that citizens of these countries can also be citizens of other countries at the same time.
For example, if you are a British citizen with Irish family ties, you can apply for an Irish citizenship while also keeping your British nationality.
When multiple citizenship is allowed, individuals can have a passport for each country they are a citizen of. This could simply be one other country, or multiple others.
When is multiple citizenship not allowed?
Some countries simply do not allow their nationals to have citizenship in any other country.
China and India, for example, have laws that prevent their citizens from gaining multiple nationalities. If you are from one of these countries and you wish to be a citizen of another, you would have to renounce your original citizenship first.
In some cases, it may be beneficial to renounce your citizenship. For example, if the second country has a stronger passport. However, in other circumstances, it may not be in your best interests to renounce your first nationality.
Multiple citizenships with restrictions
There are some countries that do not prevent their citizens from having multiple citizenships, however, they do not legally recognize them either.
For example, if you are a US citizen you can hold citizenship with other countries, however, the US government will not recognize your status. To enter and leave the US, you must always use your US passport. If you fail to show loyalty to the United States, you could risk losing your citizenship.
How to Get Multiple Citizenships
There are different ways to obtain multiple citizenships. Sometimes it can happen naturally, and in other circumstances it is through a decision made by the citizen.
Not everyone can hold more than one citizenship, it depends if you fall into any of the categories below.
Multiple nationalities through ancestry
One of the most common ways to gain another citizenship is through family ties. Many countries allow individuals to claim citizenship with them if they can prove their ancestry. The classification of being a close relative depends on the individual nation’s laws.
For example, in Ireland, you are automatically a citizen if one or both of your parents were born in Ireland, or are Irish citizens. Alternatively, if your grandparents were born in Ireland, you can also claim Irish citizenship.
In comparison, in Canada you are limited to the first generation when applying for citizenship. Like Ireland, you are automatically a citizen if you have Canadian parents. However, you do not qualify for citizenship if only your grandparents are from Canada.
Multiple citizenships by naturalization
Another common way to gain citizenship in a country is through naturalization. This is the act of simply being in a country for a long period of time, until you automatically qualify as a citizen.
The length of time someone must be living in a country to hold citizenship depends on that nation. Sometimes it can be relatively quick, while in other situations it may take many years.
In Russia, you can claim citizenship after living in the country for 5 years. Whereas in Spain, you have to live there for at least 10 years to qualify for citizenship.
Multiple citizenships through marriage
In many countries, it is possible to hold citizenship if you marry a national from that country. Each government has its own laws for when a spouse can apply for citizenship after they are married.
If you marry a Mexican citizen, you can apply for citizenship after 2 years of living with them in Mexico. In Switzerland, you must have lived with your spouse for at least 5 years before you qualify for Swiss citizenship.