Dual nationality, also known as dual citizenship, means that you are a citizen of two countries simultaneously.
Holding dual nationality can be a complicated legal status and its benefits depend on the relative two countries.
It is important to understand how this status works, before deciding if it is beneficial for you or not.
Dual Nationality Definition
If someone has dual nationality, then they are legally recognized in both countries as a citizen. They share the same rights and responsibilities as citizens without dual nationality.
Sometimes dual citizenship happens automatically. For example, in the United States if a child is born to parents of another country, by default they will be citizens of both the US and their parents’ home country.
Dual nationality is also often granted through legal processes, such as marriage. If someone marries a citizen of another country, they may be entitled to citizenship of their spouse’s country, and vice versa.
Not all countries allow their citizens to hold dual nationality. It is necessary to check whether the country you are currently a citizen of allows it, before attempting to apply for a new citizenship.
In countries that do not allow dual citizenship, citizens must surrender their nationality of that country in order to become a citizen of another country.
What Are the Advantages of Dual Citizenship?
There are many benefits to being a citizen of two countries. Knowing the advantages can help you decide if it is something worthwhile for you.
Benefits and Privileges
Having dual nationality means that the citizen has access to the benefits and privileges of two countries.
As a dual citizen they are entitled to use social and healthcare services, education systems, and any other services available to citizens of each country.
Dual citizens can legally live and work in two different countries without a work permit or visa. This gives them more work opportunities and flexibility on where they live.
Someone with dual nationality is also allowed to hold a passport for both countries.
This makes international travel easier, as they can choose which passport to travel with, depending on which one is more beneficial in the destination country.
What Are the Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship?
There are some disadvantages to being a citizen of two countries, and it is not always in someone’s best interests. It is important to know the possible negative aspects before applying.
Although a dual citizen benefits from being able to legally work in two countries, they may also be legally obliged to pay tax in both countries.
In countries like the US, if you are a dual citizen and living in the other country of residence, you must still pay tax to the US government. This means that you would have to pay tax in your country of residence, as well as the US.
However, some countries have income tax treaties to avoid double taxation.
Long and Expensive Process
Gaining dual nationality is not a simple or easy process, and it usually costs a lot of money.
Sometimes it is even necessary to hire an immigration lawyer, making the process even more expensive.
As a citizen of two countries, you are legally bound by the laws of both of them.
Even if you are not residing in one of the countries, you could still have the same obligations as any citizen. For example, you may still have to legally attend jury duty or serve in the military if it is legally required.
How to get Dual Citizenship
If you have decided that dual nationality is right for you, then you can start the process of applying.
In some countries, there is no specific process for becoming a dual citizen. You might simply need to apply for citizenship in the other country.
It is very important to first check that your country of origin allows its citizens to hold dual nationality. If not, you could risk losing your citizenship in the process.
Contacting the relevant embassy is the best way to find out if your country permits dual nationality.