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Dual Citizenship

usa and british passportDual Citizenship is a legal status that denotes a person who possesses two nationalities – meaning that the person is considered a citizen of more than one country by those country’s nationality laws. A number of countries do not recognize dual citizenship. In these countries, if a foreign national becomes a citizen (through a legal process called naturalization) the foreign national is required to renounce the national’s former citizenship and give up the previous country’s passport, allegiance, and other benefits. The following countries generally do not recognized dual citizenship: Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Monaco, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palou, Papua, Principe Island, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

It is the current policy of the United States to not formally or officially recognize its citizens’ second nationality.

Conversely, there are also several countries that do recognized dual citizenship. In these countries, foreign nationals are not required to renounce their former citizenship, though they may be subject to other requirements such as long-term residency in the new country or paying taxes in the new country. The following countries generally recognize dual citizenship: Albania, Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Carpe Verde, Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Macao, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nevis, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Christopher, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.

Benefits of Dual Citizenship

There are many benefits to holding multiple citizenships. For example, having multiple passports can make international travel easy for an individual. For instance, United States citizens need visas in order to travel to Iran. However, if an individual has citizenship in both the United States and Iran, the individual can use the Iranian passport to enter the country and bypass the requirement for obtaining a visa.

The freedom to travel that stems from multiple passports is particularly convenient when one of those passports is from a European Union member state. The European Union maintains an open door travel policy with all of its member states, so that a citizen of one state can enjoy visa free travel to all the other states. Given that the European Union is composed of 28 countries including the popular destinations of Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Spain, an EU passport would be quite convenient for many foreign nationals. The Caribbean member nations of CARICOM (including Aruba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, and others) maintain a similar visa free travel system as do the nations who are party to the Schengen Agreement (including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Malta, Luxembourg, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Norway, and others).

Other benefits include the individual’s greater access to embassies and consulates. Not all countries maintain diplomatic relations and missions with all other countries. For example, the United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, so if an American citizen goes to North Korea, the citizen has no American embassy to turn to in the event of an emergency. However, if the American citizen is also a citizen of China, which does have an embassy in that country, the citizen will be able to seek help and assistance from that embassy.

Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship

While dual citizenship does carry with is obvious benefits, there are also potential disadvantages that may lead a foreign national to renounce one citizenship. The greatest concern of most foreign investors is the tax implications of holding multiple citizenships. In doing so, the investor subjects him or herself to the tax laws and reporting requirements of multiple nations that can sometimes result in the investor paying the same tax twice – such as paying an income tax to China and also an income tax to Japan.

There are many options to gain a second citizenship and several countries offer citizenship by investment opportunities for foreign investors. Interested investors are encouraged to speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain the numerous options and the pros and cons of each nation’s program.
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