Society has come a long way from being wary towards the concept of dual citizenship. Today, not only is dual citizenship globally welcomed, but it is also ardently sought after. One only has to look at the urgency with which British nationals have been seeking dual citizenship through family ties or naturalisation, so as to bypass the adverse effects of Brexit. While motivations for dual citizenship differ depending on the individual, most people are eager to secure dual citizenship to maintain or obtain travel, residency, health, and work rights.

While many people are legally entitled to dual citizenship from a young age- be it through birth or descent- others strive to earn the right for citizenship in foreign countries. Most countries in fact have instated naturalisation processes through which foreign citizens can successfully become domestic nationals.

A most recent and modern development is the gradual introduction and popularity of citizenship by investment programmes. Such programmes first originated in the Caribbean in the tropical sister islands of St Kitts and Nevis. However, the likes of such programmes can also be found in Europe as well- namely the Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations in Malta. The proliferation of citizenship by investment programmes is of no coincidence, as individuals are becoming increasingly cognizant of the benefits that come with holding a dual citizenship status.

Freedom of Movement

Individuals originating from countries with restricted visa-free access treasure the possession of a second citizenship which allows greater ease of travel. The process of obtaining a visa is, more often than not, a lengthy and tedious process. Having to go through such a process once is tiresome enough, however being constantly roadblocked with visa procedures is close to unbearable, and a waste of precious time and money. For individuals seeking facilitated access to the EU, whether for business or personal reasons, it would be wise to look at a citizenship or residency programme which offers visa-free access to the Schengen area.
A Maltese passport, for instance, grants citizens a remarkable visa-free access to over 180 countries. A Caribbean country like Saint Lucia also has visa-free access to over 150 countries.

Consequently, for non-EU investors with business interests within the EU, obtaining visa-free access to the Schengen area through an investment migration programme ensures freedom of mobility for the rest of their lives, without the hassle of obtaining a Visa. Furthermore, the ultimate motivation for dual citizenship rather than a Golden Visa is that citizenship entitles individuals to esteemed rights enjoyed only by citizens.

Security

Nationals of tumultuous countries are vulnerable to political and economic unrest, violence, terrorism and other distressing situations. For such people, holding a dual citizenship is of deeper significance than it is for those whose primary objective is as simple as facilitated travel.

Therefore, securing a second passport in a peaceful country with a stable and thriving economy provides unparalleled peace of mind to citizens hailing from precarious countries. The motivations for dual citizenship, in this case, have to do with securing a backup plan. Individuals would have the option to reside in a sheltered country with an advanced social and legal infrastructure, a secure and thriving economy, and a stable favourable political climate. Furthermore, this peace of mind can also be extended to the whole family as well as future generations.

Enriched Quality of Life

As a holder of dual citizenship, an individual is automatically exposed to more opportunities. Countries facing continuous struggles in their economic development, pale in comparison to the possibilities offered in more advanced countries such as those in the EU, Canada, Australia, and the US. Obtaining citizenship of an EU member country in particular, vastly broadens the horizons of a non-EU citizen. Dual citizens of the EU are free to travel, reside, work, and study in any EU country. The EU is currently comprised of 27 member countries. Most of these have a robust economy, educational institutions with the highest international standards, and prime quality healthcare.

In contrast, for those who are more inclined towards exotic countries rather than the quintessential European lifestyle, a Caribbean passport is ideal. Nowadays, obtaining a dual citizenship through one of the Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes has become a simple and attractive option. For varying investments, starting even from US$100,000, a person can become a dual citizen of the Caribbean. Such a process benefits both the individual and country in question, since while the individual is granted Caribbean citizenship, the country itself has received valuable investment which is instrumental in the advancement of its economy.

Business Prospects

It is also not unorthodox for investors to seek dual citizenship primarily to enhance their business opportunities. Achieving naturalisation in an EU country is a highly attractive prospect for individuals who want to cast their net wider and accelerate their business.

The motivations for dual citizenship for wealthy investors also include the need for sounder protection against potential financial exposure, data theft, and extortion. In light of threats to safety and security of having personal information leaked to the wrong sources due to lack of regulation and precautions, it is easier to confide in countries with a reputation for stability, security and confidentiality.

Dual citizenship can also serve as an efficient way of maximising and preserving wealth through advantageous tax systems. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, for instance, are exempt from taxation on foreign income, wealth, inheritance, gifts, and capital gains. Meanwhile, high-net-worth individuals who are resident but not domiciled in Malta benefit from an attractive remittance-based taxation regime. Not to mention the sheer amount of business incentives available in countries like Malta, including soft loans, innovation aid and start-up schemes, all of which provide additional incentive to become a dual citizen and build a life in such a thriving country.

dual citizenship updates

Changes to dual citizenship laws are often the culmination of a build-up in sentiment and social pressures from dual nationals and migrant diasporas. Though there have been no new laws ushering in dual citizenship in the first half of 2019, some notable countries have been steadily making progress in drawing more concrete attention to the topic. This progressive move towards the acceptance of dual citizenship can be observed in most regions of the world, from Ukraine in Eastern Europe, to Ghana in West Africa.

The ever-increasing migration phenomenon remains a prominent factor in instigating dual citizenship changes. However, dual citizenship developments in 2019 have been particularly fuelled by governments’ realizations that restricting dual citizens’ rights might be denying the country itself invaluable economic, and even cultural, contributions. 

Dual Citizenship Developments by Country

The idea of granting the right of dual citizenship has markedly been gaining ground within Ukraine. Indeed, the country’s Foreign Minister called for a fair and frank discussion on dual citizenship. Even more recently, in July 2019, Ukraine’s Nationality Security Chief also expressed his support for the concept of dual citizenship, saying that he believes the ban on this right to be a “completely artificial restriction”. Both however, made the clarification of excluding Russia from any granted freedoms pertaining to dual citizenship. The concerns in the Ukrainian government mainly have to do with the inability of Ukrainian dual citizens to work within the country, including within state bodies. This impediment does not bode well for the citizens themselves, as well as the country’s economic development. Rather, Ukrainian authorities are coming to the realization that the allowance of dual citizenship has the potential of attracting numerous foreign professionals who would be invaluable to the country’s economic reform.

In contrast to Ukraine, other countries which might already allow dual citizenship on a conditional basis, are looking into avenues by which they can loosen restrictions or grant further rights to dual nationals. Ghana, for instance, has allowed dual citizenship since 2002 by permitting nationals to apply for a Dual Citizenship Card. Nevertheless, the law remains inflexible in not granting full citizenship rights to dual citizens. Notably, dual nationals are not allowed to be elected as members of Parliament or hold positions of public office.

At the beginning of July 2019, however, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana made a significant statement in announcing that the government will soon be placing a bill before Parliament that would allow Ghanaians with dual citizenship to hold public office. The bill is expected to take into consideration all matters dealing with overseas Ghanaians, considering the crucial role and further untapped potential they have in contributing towards the country’s national development and prosperity. This step is seen as being instrumental in eradicating what is seen as discrimination against dual citizens, particularly individuals born abroad to Ghanaian parents who have no choice in the matter. Other prominent individuals, including top contenders for the Ghanaian Parliament, have made efforts to bring this issue to light, in stating that not granting full rights to dual citizens has been detrimental to the pool of talent within the country.

Another development in dual citizenship laws worth mentioning is the Austrian government’s plans to allow dual citizenship for Austrian nationals living in Britain in the event of Brexit. Although Austria for the most part restricts dual citizenship, this is still a step forward in loosening regulation.

Slow burning moves towards acceptance of Dual Citizenship

Towards the end of 2018, the Netherlands had announced plans to introduce dual citizenship by Spring 2019, whereby first-generation migrants in the Netherlands would be allowed to hold more than one passport. This is also related to Brexit, considering the vast amount of UK nationals living in the Netherlands. However, despite this pledge, the Dutch government has yet to publish proposals regarding the new legislation, and no specific time frame has been set.

Similarly, despite voting in favour of allowing dual citizenship in Norway last December, the new rules on citizenship are not expected to enter into force until at least 2020. The new rules will allow Norwegians to keep their Norwegian citizenship if they actively apply for another citizenship, while new Norwegian citizens will not be required to renounce any other citizenship. The rationales behind the introduction of dual citizenship in Norway are plenty. In line with traditional arguments for dual citizenship, the new regulation is seen as an effort to remain in sync with an increasingly globalised world, and to integrate immigrants into the political community. Furthermore, dual citizenship would allow Norwegians living abroad to keep or retain their Norwegian citizenship. On the other hand, allowing dual citizenship would make it possible to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens who engage in or support terrorist acts.

The Dual Citizenship Report Series

In light of the success of the first two regional editions of the Dual Citizenship Report, CCLEX is now pleased to publish the global report on Dual Citizenship. The Dual Citizenship Report series gives a clear understanding of the laws and regulations of countries and acts as an initial reference for individuals looking into attaining dual citizenship.

The first Dual Citizenship Report publication by CCLEX, evaluated dual citizenship laws within Europe, while the second edition focused on Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  As opposed to being centred on a specific region, the new Global edition of the Dual Citizenship Report is distinguishable since it examines dual citizenship laws in over 100 jurisdictions around the globe. 

Both preceding editions of the dual citizenship report were well-met and praised as an insightful compilation of legal expertise. The Dual Citizenship Report series looks at whether a country or territory allows, restricts, or prohibits its citizens from holding dual and multiple citizenship. To ensure the utmost accuracy, each country chapter is strictly based on the feedback from law firms that provided critical assessment on the laws governing citizenship in their respective countries.

The Global edition expands on the insight accumulated in the previous editions to give a more comprehensive and comparative outlook on dual citizenship legislation worldwide. While incorporating and updating the country chapters from the previous regional editions, the report also includes over 50 new countries. The primary research for this edition of the Dual Citizenship Report was carried between January and March 2019, with recent revisions to citizenship laws all being taken into consideration.

Global Dual Citizenship

Over time, dual citizenship has become widely accepted, as is reflected in the Global Dual Citizenship Report. 60% of the jurisdictions under review in the report unrestrictedly allow dual citizenship, and only 20% completely prohibit dual citizenship with no special exceptions. Many countries have abandoned efforts to restrict dual citizenship rights, and have instead opted to integrate the concept into their legislations. This has occurred in response to a variety of developments, including increased migration flows, intensified pressure from diaspora communities, and the rising human rights phenomenon.

Most European countries allow dual citizenship, as do most countries in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Dual citizenship laws in Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region are more mixed, while Southeast Asia primarily stands out as being the most restrictive region as a whole with regards to dual or multiple citizenship. Countries including Malta, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, New Zealand, the United States, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Canada, amongst others, permit dual citizenship with absolutely no restriction.   

The Global Dual Citizenship Report substantiates that the practice of revoking the citizenship of citizens who naturalise in another country has been largely withdrawn. It is even rarer to find countries that require those who are born with dual citizenship do make a choice between the two citizenships upon reaching the specified age of majority or adulthood. Although some countries refrain from mentioning dual citizenship within their legislation, this also implies that dual citizens are not tied to down to any obligations, therefore such countries inadvertently allow dual citizenship.

While some countries allow dual citizenship and do not lay down any obligations for renunciation of either citizenship, they may still pose restrictions with regards to other aspects. Russia, for instance, does not allow dual citizens to be elected as members of the Federation Council or constitute/participate in the editorial office of a mass media or broadcasting entity, amongst other things. Australia also does not allow dual citizens to run for elected office.  Other countries, including Russia and South Africa, allow dual citizenship on the condition that an individual notifies or registers with authorities prior to attaining dual citizenship.

Nevertheless, despite the increasing tolerance towards dual citizenship worldwide, certain countries still forbid dual citizenship, with some explicitly laying down that the acquisition of another citizenship is grounds for the automatic loss or revocation of citizenship. According to the Global Dual Citizenship Report, these countries include China, Monaco, Nepal, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and India. In some cases, such as Japan, Indonesia, and Estonia, an exception is made for children or adult dual citizens under a certain age. Upon reaching the specific age of majority, however, the individuals have to make a choice to keep one citizenship and renounce the other.

Other countries that do not normally allow dual citizenship make allowances in limited circumstances under certain conditions, including international treaties with specific countries or in the instances of birth or marriage. In the cases of European countries such as Bulgaria, Germany, and Latvia, dual citizenship is allowed in relation to EU member states, amongst other criteria. Spain, the Honduras, Nicaragua, and Pakistan, are among the countries that have a set of dual nationality agreements in place. Meanwhile countries including Austria, Lithuania, Norway and South Korea make allowances for dual citizenship for either dual citizens by birth, or dual citizens by marriage, or both.

All in all, as observed in the Global Dual Citizenship report, more and more countries have grown to tolerate and even recognize dual citizenship. Those countries that continue to prohibit dual citizenship are finding it harder to uphold restrictions in the face of increasing pressure and changing international norms towards the concept. The research team at CCLEX is eager to continue expanding on the research accumulated in the Global Dual Citizenship Report in the coming years by gradually increasing the countries under review.

Obtaining dual citizenship marks an instrumental change, particularly for those individuals who strive for greater freedom of movement and a more secure way of life. Many people often feel tied down to the citizenship they gained at birth. In certain instances, this citizenship poses restrictions or limits the ability of people to move freely or does not guarantee a secure and aspiring future. It is for this reason that an increasing amount of people are exploring their options and determining how to get dual citizenship.

Citizenship laws vary by country, as does the allowance of dual citizenship. Due to the differentiated ways countries grant citizenship, it is not uncommon for an individual to be legally entitled to a second citizenship without his/her knowledge. However, most people are not this fortunate, and have to actively pursue or put in the time to get a second citizenship. It is very easy to take citizenship for granted. Many do not realize the benefits and privileges granted through holding one particular citizenship over another. It is no coincidence for instance that there has been a surge in British citizens securing second citizenships as a result of Brexit. It was not until the rights they had gotten accustomed to enjoying came at risk of being stripped away that they considered the option of dual citizenship. Britons are urgently seeking to get dual citizenship primarily to continue enjoying the right of freedom of movement within the EU.

Although a large majority of countries nowadays allow dual citizenship, some countries have stricter laws on the issue than others. Dual or multiple citizenship occurs when an individual holds two or more citizenships simultaneously. When it comes to the question of how to get dual citizenship, this can occur mainly through descent/ancestry, naturalisation, and the more recent phenomenon of investment migration. In this respect, some countries might be preferred over others since they offer a comparatively expedited road to citizenship under either of these three certain criteria.

How to Get Dual Citizenship by Descent

Certain countries base their citizenship legislation on the principle of ius sanguinis, otherwise known as citizenship by descent. In this case, citizenship may be granted based on affiliations with the country arising from parentage or ancestral lineage. Although such a process is unlikely to be short of bureaucracy, it might be one the most guaranteed and efficient way of gaining dual citizenship.

Ireland and Italy are known for having granting citizenship by descent, and both also happen to allow dual citizenship. In the case of Ireland, if either parent is an Irish citizen by birth, marriage, adoption, or naturalisation at the time of birth, the child or adult would be entitled to Irish citizenship. However, the descent laws in Ireland go much further than this. If an individual has one grandparent who is an Irish citizen born in Ireland, the individual may become an Irish citizenship, even if neither of his/her parents were born in Ireland themselves. The Irish citizenship of successive generations may be passed on in this way on the condition that each generation ensures their registration in the Foreign Births Register before the birth of the next generation.

Similar to Ireland, Italy also grants citizenship through the principle of ius sanguinis to those whose ancestors were Italian citizens, however the criteria are slightly stricter. Amongst these conditions, the Italian ancestor must have been alive after Italy’s unification in 1861, must not have naturalised elsewhere after before July of 1912, and sufficient proof must be given that neither the applicant in question nor any of the direct ancestors ever renounced their Italian citizenship. Furthermore, the transmission of Italian citizenship through maternal lineage is possible only for children born after January 1, 1948.

How to Get Dual Citizenship by Naturalisation

Most countries around the world have in place a legal framework for naturalisation, whereby foreigners can apply for citizenship upon fulfilling a set of conditions. This is usually dependent on satisfying a specific period of legal residency, which varies for each country. The general period of residency is that of five to seven years. Oftentimes, however, an expedited naturalisation process is available in the case of marriage, whereby shorter residency periods are established.

Some of the notable countries with relatively lenient residency requirements include Peru, Argentina, and Canada. The former two both have a minimal two-year residency requirement which needs to be satisfied prior to applying for citizenship, while Canada requires three years of permanent residency in the five years preceding the submission of the application. Apart from residency, other criteria are generally implied. Typically, this would include swearing an oath of allegiance to the country, declaring an intention to obey the country’s laws, reaching a minimum age requirement, being of moral character, and basic knowledge of the country’s language, history and culture, which is often assessed through a citizenship naturalisation test.

With regards to marriage, it is extremely rare for a country to allow automatic naturalisation in the event of marriage. Rather, countries tend to grant residency on the basis of marriage, and in turn a swifter process for naturalisation. Prior to applying for citizenship, Spain, for instance, requires only one year of legal tax residence for a foreigner who is married to a Spanish citizen. Ireland calls for one year of “reckonable residence” within at least three years of marriage or a registered civil relationship. Foreigners married to a Polish citizen can also apply for naturalisation in Poland after two years of uninterrupted stay within the country as a permanent resident, or long-term EU resident.

How to Get Dual Citizenship through Citizenship by Investment

One recent and somewhat revolutionary development in the field of citizenship has been the gradual implementation and rising popularity of citizenship by investment programmes. These programmes allow for the granting of citizenship to individuals who make a specific significant investment to the country. In this respect, for many affluent individuals, citizenship by investment programmes are an efficient way to get dual citizenship. Investments may range from government fund donations, stocks or bonds, and real estate or business investments. This particular phenomenon has been a direct repercussion of individuals becoming increasingly aware of the benefits and merits of holding dual or multiple citizenship status.

Citizenship by investment programmes first originated in 1984 in the tropical Caribbean country of St. Kitts and Nevis. Since then, numerous citizenship by investment programmes have been introduced across the globe. As of 2019, five Caribbean countries have citizenship by investment programmes in operation- St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica. Dominica, Saint Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda, for instance, all grant citizenship within a three-month processing time for a minimum investment of USD 100,000 for a single applicant. The Caribbean programmes are therefore ideal for those who wish to get dual citizenship, yet who prefer flexibility and are particularly pressured on time.

However, there are also acclaimed citizenship by investment programmes across Europe, namely in Malta, Cyprus, and Austria. The programmes, while being of the highest standard, grant successful reputable applicants visa-free access to the 26 countries in the Schengen area, as well as the opportunity to reside and do business in any of the European Union (EU) member countries.

Although getting dual citizenship through such programmes requires a more substantial financial commitment than through other means, many individuals often find the process worthwhile given the newly gained travel freedom, personal security, enriched quality of life, and long-term financial benefits.

Dual Citizenship After Brexit

There is no shred of doubt that dual citizenship after Brexit would be a coveted asset. With each passing day that Brexit looms closer, an overwhelming number of British citizens continue to turn to dual citizenship as a way to secure their living, work, study, or family situation.  

While nothing is set in stone yet, in light of results (or lack thereof) of recent negotiations, Britons who would like to keep their EU citizenship have little choice but to be proactive and apply for citizenship in other EU countries. In this way, these Britons would have secured a dual citizenship after Brexit, allowing them to continue enjoying the rights and freedoms bestowed on EU citizens.

With regards to EU nationals living in the UK, they can apply through the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the country. EU citizens currently living in the UK will not face a change in the rights and status as UK residents until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Current Situation

Nothing could be more telling of many Britons’ esteem for EU citizenship, than the record 200,000 Irish passport applications received from the UK in 2018 alone. As Ireland happens to allow the granting of citizenship on the basis of descent or ius sanguinis, British nationals with at least one parent who is an Irish citizen, or a grandparent born in Ireland, are automatically entitled to an Irish citizenship. While most of these applications were made on the basis of family relations, some British nationals living in Ireland also submitted an application under existing residency regulations.   

Ireland, however, is by no means the only EU country Britons are turning to. In contrast to the 594 British nationals who gained German citizenship in 2015, 7,493 Britons acquired a German passport in 2017 alone. The particular interest in Germany is not a mere coincidence. Under German legislation, the descendants of German refugees who fled Germany during the Second World War as a result of persecution, may be able to re-claim their German citizenship. Nevertheless, following Brexit, complications are likely to arise since Germany only allows dual citizenship with other EU states. Therefore, a British national would not be entitled to the right of dual citizenship if he/she has not gained naturalisation in Germany by the withdrawal deadline of March 30th, 2019 in the case of a no-deal, or by the end of the transition period in the case of a Brexit deal. In other words, if a British national were to gain a German passport after Brexit, they would have to renounce their British citizenship.

France and Belgium have also peaked the interest of Britons who claimed 1,518 and 1,381 of new nationalities respectively. While every country has its separate citizenship laws, generally those Britons who have already claimed an EU citizenship pre-Brexit, will be able to benefit from dual citizenship after Brexit. Therefore, while the UK might not be in the EU soon, British-EU dual nationals would still be able to enjoy the right to travel, work, and live freely within the bloc.

How to Gain Dual Citizenship After Brexit

Fortunately, dual citizenship (or dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This implies that British nationals seeking a second citizenship do not have to renounce their British one, while foreigners seeking a British citizenship are also not required to renounce their foreign citizenship under the laws of the UK. Therefore, any British national acquiring a dual citizenship after Brexit will not lose their British citizenship.

Having affiliations with a country based on birth, parentage, or other family relations, might be the most straightforward route to gaining dual citizenship after Brexit, as we have seen in cases such as those of Ireland and Germany. Other countries also follow similar laws to granting citizenship. For instance, Italian citizenship is passed down from one generation to another with no restrictions, even if the child is born on foreign soil.

Nevertheless, the prospects for attaining dual citizenship are not limited solely to descent or ancestry. Residing in an EU country for a certain number of years also generally qualifies an individual to apply for citizenship. Britons who have resided in another EU country for an extended amount of time will probably find that they are eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation. Being married to an EU citizen also tends to open up a swift naturalisation process, with shorter residency requirements.

Most notably, other EU countries -namely Malta, Cyprus, and Austria- grant citizenship to reputable high-net-worth individuals on the basis of investment. These programmes award citizenship to investors who meet a strict set of eligibility criteria. Investments include property purchases or lease agreements, a government fund contribution, and investment in government bonds or shares.

Ultimately, attaining dual citizenship after Brexit will give British citizens the freedom many feel they are being unjustly deprived of.