Dual Citizenship Advantages and Disadvantages (2023)

A person with dual citizenship is a citizen of two countries at thesame time, which has both advantages and disadvantages because it is a complex legal status. One benefit of dual citizenship that is often cited is the ability of an individual to possess two passports; however, a potential drawback is the possibility of double taxation.

Key Takeaways

  • Dual citizens enjoy certain benefits, such as the ability to live and work freely in two countries, own property in both countries, and travel between the countries with relative ease.
  • Not every country recognizes dual citizenship, and you may need to renounce your birth citizenship to become a citizen of a new country.
  • Drawbacks of being a dual citizen include the potential for double taxation, the long and expensive process for obtaining dual citizenship, and the fact that you become bound by the laws of two nations.
  • The easiest way to become a dual citizen is by birth, although many migrants can become naturalized citizens when they move to a new country or marry a foreign spouse.
  • Applying for dual citizenship is a complicated and typically expensive process that may require the assistance of an immigration lawyer.


Advantages And Disadvantages Of Dual Citizenship

What Is Dual Citizenship?

Not all countries allow dual citizenship, but the United States does. Dual citizenship happens automatically in some situations, such as when a child is born in the U.S. to parents who are residents of a foreign country. Unless the parents are foreign diplomats, the child generally becomes a citizen of the U.S., in addition to any citizenship they inherit from their parents.

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Similarly, if a child of U.S. citizens is born overseas, they may automatically become a citizen of both the U.S. and their country of birth (although this is situational because it depends on that specific country’s laws).

Dual citizenship can also be achieved through specialized legal processes, such as when a foreign national is naturalized as a U.S. citizen. In this case, that person would become a citizen of both countries, unless their home country does not allow dual citizenship.

In order to become naturalized as a U.S. citizen, a foreign national must be a permanent resident for several years, pass a U.S. citizenship test, and meet certain other eligibility requirements.

Advantages of Dual Citizenship

Political Rights

Dual citizens can participate fully in the political life of every country where they have citizenship. This includes the right to vote and stand in elections, and the right to make donations to political candidates.

Work and Travel

Unlike foreigners, dual citizens do not require a visa or permit to visit the countries where they have citizenship, and they can stay for as long as they like. They also have the right to seek work in both countries, while foreigners must pass through a lengthy process to get a work permit. They are also exempt from any restrictions on foreign businesspeople.

Social Services

Dual citizens can receive the benefits and privileges offered by each country where they are a citizen. For example, they may travel to receive medical treatment or procedures that are not available in the other country of their citizenship. They can also receive an education at the same price as domestic students.

Two Passports

As a dual citizen, you are allowed to carry passports from both countries. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen and also a citizen of New Zealand, you can travel more easily between these two countries. Having a citizen's passport eliminates the need for long-stay visas and any questioning about the purpose of your trip during the customs process.

It also guarantees the individual in possession of two passports the right of entry to both the U.S. and New Zealand; this can be especially beneficial if you have family to visit in both countries, or if you are a student or a businessperson that either studies or conducts affairs in both countries.

Property Ownership

Another benefit of dual citizenship is the ability to own property in either country. Some countries restrict land ownership to citizens only. As a legal citizen of two countries, you would be able to purchase property in either—or both—countries. If you travel frequently between the two countries, this might be especially useful since property ownership might offer a more economical way to live in two places.


Cultural Education

As a dual citizen, you'll reapthe benefits of being immersed in the culture of the two countries. Some government officials are also fondof dual citizenship and see it as a way to promote the country's image as a prime destination for tourists. Dual citizenship offers individuals the opportunity to learn about the history of both countries, learn two (or more) languages, and experience a different way of life.

Because dual citizenship is complex and the rules and laws regarding citizenship vary between different countries, it may be in your best interest to consult with qualified experts–including accountants and lawyers–about certain purchases or decisions related to employment and your finances.

Disadvantages ofDual Citizenship

Dual Obligations

As a dual citizen, you are bound by the laws of both countries. For example, if you are a citizen of the U.S. and a country with mandatory military service, you can lose your U.S. citizenship under certain circumstances, such as if you serve as an officer in a foreign military that is engaged in a war against the U.S.

In general, U.S. policy recognizes that dual citizens might be legally obligated to fulfill military obligations abroad, and many can do so without jeopardizing their U.S. citizen status, but it is important to research each situation carefully.

Double Taxation

For individuals who are dual citizens of the U.S. and another country, the U.S. imposes taxes on its citizens for income earned anywhere in the world. If you are living in your country of dual residence that is not the U.S., you may owe taxes both to the U.S. government and to the country where the income was earned.

However, income tax treaties between the U.S. and other countries serve to effectively reduce or eliminate an individual's tax liability in order to avoid double taxation. For example, a treaty between the U.S. and New Zealand overrides the income tax laws of each country to avoid double taxation.

Even so, dual citizens may be required to file U.S. tax returns even if they are living and earning income in New Zealand. Because tax laws are complicated and can change from year to year, it's important for individuals facing this situation to consult with a qualified tax accountant.

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U.S. citizens are required to report their overseas income, even if it is earned as a foreign citizen. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion allows U.S. citizens to exclude up to $112,000 of foreign-earned income from their taxes in 2022 ($120,000 in 2023).

Barriers to Some Forms of Employment

Depending on your career path, dual citizenship can be a disadvantage. If you are seeking a position with the U.S government or your job requires access to information that is considered classified by the U.S. government, having dual citizenship may bar you from gaining the security clearance you need for this type of employment. Those born into dual citizenship may encounter fewer problems than those who actively sought it out.

Complicated Process

Sometimes dual citizenship happens automatically (for example, when a child is born in the U.S. to foreign parents). Other times, however, the process can take many years and can be extremely expensive and complicated. This can deter some people from pursuing dual citizenship.

Process for Gaining Dual Citizenship in the United States

If you were not born in the U.S. and you want to become a U.S. citizen, there are many requirements for gaining dual citizenship. In addition, the requirements for gaining citizenship in the U.S. may be different for individuals based on their circumstances and their other country (or countries) of residence.

In general, to apply for U.S. citizenship, you must have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident–and have a permanent resident (green) card–continuously for five years (or three years if you are filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen). Other eligibility requirements include being at least 18 years old when you apply and being able to read, write, and speak basic English.

You must also pay a fee to apply for permanent residency and then another fee to file an application for citizenship. The amount of the fee depends on what application you use and your filing category. This fee is set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For most people, the complicated process of gaining citizenship requires the help of an immigration lawyer. Immigration lawyers can help individuals achieve citizenship, although they also require fees for their services. To apply for permanent residency, most individuals file form 1-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. To apply for naturalization, most individuals file form N-400, the application for naturalization.


How Do You Become a Dual Citizen?

The shortest path to becoming a dual citizen is through birth, either by having parents with dual citizenship or by being born in a country with birthright citizenship. Otherwise, you can obtain dual citizenship by marrying someone who is a citizen of a different country than yourself, or by being naturalized as a citizen in a different country. Some countries also offer citizenship based on ancestry.

Note that not all countries recognize dual citizenship, and in some cases, you might be forced to give up your original citizenship to become naturalized.

How Do You Become a Dual Citizen of Canada?

Canadian citizenship is increasingly attractive to prospective migrants, due to the attractive social programs and advanced economy. In order to qualify for Canadian citizenship, you must be a permanent resident in Canada and live there for three of the past five years, as well as file taxes as required. You also have to pass a test to show an understanding of citizenship rights and responsibilities, and demonstrate language skills in English or French.

Which Passport Should Dual Citizens Use?

Each country has its own laws and restrictions about who can enter its borders, and dual citizens should consider the advantages of both passports when crossing customs. For example, if a certain destination offers visa-free travel to country A and strict visa requirements for country B, it makes sense for a dual national to use country A's passport rather than country B's. Conversely, some countries may require you to use a specific passport, if you have it. The United States requires all dual citizens to enter on their U.S. passport.

The Bottom Line

Dual citizenship is when a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time, with all the rights and privileges that come with it. Dual citizens can travel freely in both countries, as well as work, do business, own land, and do other activities that may be restricted to foreigners; however, there are also disadvantages, as dual citizens may face extra taxes or even military service.



What are the advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship? ›

Dual citizens can travel freely in both countries, as well as work, do business, own land, and do other activities that may be restricted to foreigners; however, there are also disadvantages, as dual citizens may face extra taxes or even military service.

What are the advantages of dual citizenship? ›

What Are the Benefits of Dual Citizenship?
  • Visa-Free Travel and Work. ...
  • Access to Social Services. ...
  • Family Sponsorship. ...
  • Having Two Passports. ...
  • Property Ownership. ...
  • Personal Wellbeing. ...
  • Birth. ...
  • Marriage.

What are the disadvantages of dual citizenship? ›

Potential of double taxation.

The flip side of the opportunity to reduce taxes for dual citizens is the risk of double taxation. Depending on the country and its laws, this risk appears for foreign income tax or property tax.

What are the disadvantages of citizenship? ›

The Application process is not easy and often can be sometimes lengthy if not all the documents are submitted. Many papers require apostille or legalization to be accepted. Criminal record, health certificate and references take a lot of time. All in all the whole process for citizenship approval takes 2-4 months.

Can you collect Social Security with dual citizenship? ›

Can I collect Social Security with dual citizenship? Assuming that you retain your U.S. citizenship, having citizenship from another country would have no effect on your Social Security benefits or options.

What is dual citizenship in simple words? ›

1. Also called: dual nationality. the status of a person who is a legal citizen of two or more countries. 2. citizenship of both a state and a nation, in nations consisting of a federation of states, as the U.S.

What is the best dual citizenship? ›

If you are looking to become a dual citizen, the 5 best countries for dual citizenship are as follows:
  • New Zealand. New Zealand is a member of the Trans-Tasman agreement that allows freedom of movement to and fro Australia. ...
  • Portugal. ...
  • Malta. ...
  • Grenada. ...
  • St.
Jan 13, 2022

Do dual citizens pay taxes? ›

Do Dual Citizens pay US taxes? The short answer to this question for US citizens living abroad is yes. The US is one of only two countries in the world with a citizenship-based taxation system.

Why does the US not like dual citizenship? ›

Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship

Although you receive all the benefits offered by your two countries of citizenship, you also receive all the obligations. For example, you could lose U.S. citizenship if a foreign country requires you to serve as an officer in a war against the United States.

Does dual citizenship affect U.S. citizenship? ›

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship.

What happens if you have dual citizenship? ›

Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries, and either country has the right to enforce its laws.

What are the disadvantages of not being a U.S. citizen? ›

Without citizenship, stateless people have no legal protection and no right to vote, and they often lack access to education, employment, health care, registration of birth, marriage or death, and property rights.

What is the value of dual citizenship? ›

Having a citizen's passport guarantees a right of entry to both countries and eliminates questioning at customs. This is an advantage, especially if you frequent both countries to study, visit family, or conduct business. #3 As a dual citizen, you can now own property in either country.

Do dual citizens have to file US taxes? ›

1. If you are a US/Canada dual citizen, you are required to file US taxes. Dual citizens have more tax concerns that are affected by their salary, investments, pensions, and properties. If you are a dual citizen of Canada and the US, you have US tax obligations wherever you are since US taxes are based on citizenship.

Can you travel with 2 passports? ›

Yes. And people can even have more than two! It's usually advantageous to have multiple passports (if your home country allows it). Having a second passport allows you to choose which one makes your entry into a foreign country easier and you'll likely have shorter lines to wait in.

Can a 65 year old immigrant get Social Security? ›

People who immigrate to the United States at age 65 or older may be entitled to Social Security benefits. Totalization agreements allow immigrants to combine their work credits from both the U.S. and their home country.

What is good citizenship in your own words? ›


Part of being a good citizen means abiding by the community code and learning how to engage in debate respectfully so we can all be safe and enjoy being together in the community. Having respect means to listen, cooperate, and choose your actions, attitudes and behaviours appropriately.

How long can I stay outside US as a citizen? ›

While the normal limit is a year, you can stay longer and still preserve your US citizen if you are a military service member, Government employee, or meet any other criteria discussed above i.e., work for a US multinational or you proactively preserve residence.

What happens to your Social Security if you move to another country? ›

If you leave the U.S., we will stop your benefits the month after the sixth calendar month in a row that you are outside the country. You can make visits to the United States for specific periods of time, depending on how long you've been outside, to continue receiving your benefits.

Can you have dual citizenship forever? ›

The U.S. government does not require naturalized U.S. citizens to relinquish citizenship in their country of origin. Although the Oath of Allegiance to the United States speaks of renouncing “allegiance and fidelity” to other nations, U.S. immigration law does not explicitly address the topic of dual citizenship.

Can you lose your American citizenship if you live in another country? ›

No Longer Can One Lose U.S. Citizenship By Living in Another Country. At this time, no penalties exist if a naturalized U.S. citizen simply goes to live in another country. This is a distinct benefit of U.S. citizenship, since green card holders can have their status taken away for "abandoning" their U.S. residence.

Where do most Americans have dual citizenship? ›

62 countries allow US citizens to have dual citizenship. Most of them are located in Europe and Latin America.

Where is the best place to have dual citizenship? ›

Here are the countries where the process to get dual citizenship is relatively easy compared to other countries.
  • Ireland – Can I Get Irish Citizenship? ...
  • Italy – Get an Affordable Italian Passport or Dual Citizenship. ...
  • Israel – Israeli Dual Citizenship. ...
  • Paraguay Citizenship. ...
  • Guatemala – Become a Resident in Guatemala.

Why does bank ask about dual citizenship? ›

Many bank compliance officers feel obligated to ask customers about their country of citizenship, particularly in order to collect federally mandated information aimed at assessing potential risks associated with so-called “nonresident alien accounts.”

Do Americans living abroad have to pay taxes twice? ›

As an American citizen, you're required to file a US tax return even if you're living abroad. And if you already owe income tax to a foreign government, you could end up paying twice on the same income.

Do dual U.S. citizens living abroad pay taxes? ›

If you are an American living abroad, you must file a US federal tax return and pay US taxes on your worldwide income no matter where you live at that time. In other words, you are subject to the same rules regarding income taxation as people living stateside.

When did US stop dual citizenship? ›

Dual Citizenship in the United States

Dual citizenship had previously been banned in the United States, but in 1967 the US Supreme Court struck down most laws forbidding dual citizenship.

Which countries do not accept dual nationality? ›

Which countries do not allow dual citizenship?
  • Nepal.
  • Myanmar.
  • China.
  • Malawi.
  • Kuwait.
  • Laos.
May 5, 2022

Where is dual citizenship not allowed? ›

Today, most advanced economies allow dual citizenship; notable exceptions which restrict or forbid it are Austria, Japan, the Netherlands, and Singapore.

Is dual citizenship a right? ›

Dual citizenship means that an individual can have more than one nationality. This gives the person country-specific rights and benefits. For example, you can work, study, and reside in both countries with dual or multiple citizenships.

Can I collect Social Security if I renounce my citizenship? ›

A common misconception is that a person who renounces US citizenship turns their back on everything they are entitled to from the US. However, that is not necessarily the case. After renouncing, you would still receive all Social Security benefits to which you're currently entitled.

What can cause you to lose U.S. citizenship? ›

You might lose your U.S. citizenship in specific cases, including if you:
  • Run for public office in a foreign country (under certain conditions)
  • Enter military service in a foreign country (under certain conditions)
  • Apply for citizenship in a foreign country with the intention of giving up U.S. citizenship.
May 24, 2022

What do you call a person who is not a U.S. citizen? ›

noncitizen: Person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. nonimmigrant: Any person in the United States not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national who is admitted on a temporary basis to the United States for a specific purpose under a nonimmigrant category as defined by the INA Section 101(a)(15).

Can you avoid taxes with dual citizenship? ›

As it turns out, as long as you are a citizen or resident alien of the United States, you must file U.S. taxes if you meet the filing thresholds. This applies even if you have dual citizenship and pay taxes to another country or don't currently live in the States.

How much foreign income is tax free in USA? ›

The maximum foreign earned income exclusion amount is adjusted annually for inflation. For tax year2021, the maximum foreign earned income exclusion is the lesser of the foreign income earned or $108,700 per qualifying person. For tax year2022, the maximum exclusion is $112,000 per person.

Do dual citizens have to pay taxes in both countries? ›

The most common question dual citizens ask is whether they have to pay taxes to both countries if they don't live in the U.S. The answer is, it's possible. As it turns out, as long as you are a citizen or resident alien of the United States, you must file U.S. taxes if you meet the filing thresholds.

How long is dual citizenship good for? ›

Therefore, if there are any modifications in the laws, the citizens get enough time to take the required action to remain the citizens of the country. Hence, dual citizenship never expires.

Do dual citizens need to travel with both passports? ›

U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country.

Does the US respect dual citizenship? ›

Short answer: yes, the U.S. allows dual citizenship. U.S. law does not mention dual nationality specifically nor it requires a person to choose one nationality only. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in another country without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship.

Do Americans living abroad get taxed twice? ›

As an American citizen, you're required to file a US tax return even if you're living abroad. And if you already owe income tax to a foreign government, you could end up paying twice on the same income.

Should I report dual citizenship? ›

Dual citizens, along with all other "United States persons", must file a Report of Foreign Bank Accounts, also known as an FBAR, if the aggregate value of their foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the year.

Which dual citizenship is best? ›

If you are looking to become a dual citizen, the 5 best countries for dual citizenship are as follows:
  • New Zealand. New Zealand is a member of the Trans-Tasman agreement that allows freedom of movement to and fro Australia. ...
  • Portugal. ...
  • Malta. ...
  • Grenada. ...
  • St.
Jan 13, 2022

Does dual citizenship lower taxes? ›

In other words, once a person becomes a citizen of the United States — even if they have dual citizenship with a foreign country — it does little to reduce or eliminate their US tax liability. The United States follows a Citizenship-Based Taxation model, which means the IRS taxes individuals on their worldwide income.

Why does my bank need to know if I have dual citizenship? ›

Many bank compliance officers feel obligated to ask customers about their country of citizenship, particularly in order to collect federally mandated information aimed at assessing potential risks associated with so-called “nonresident alien accounts.”

Can I fly out on one passport and return on another? ›

4. Immigration at your arrival airport. Whichever passport allows you the most hassle-free stay is the one you should show when arriving at your destination. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using one passport to exit a country and then entering on another passport.

What are the 10 most powerful passports? ›

The most powerful passports in the world
  • Japan.
  • Singapore and South Korea.
  • Germany and Spain.
  • Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg.
  • Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden.
  • France, Ireland, Portugal, and the U.K.
  • Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the U.S.
  • Australia, Canada, Greece, and Malta.
Jan 19, 2023

Can a U.S. citizen be denied entry back into the USA? ›

Can you be denied entry into the US as a US citizen? The truth is that no one is guaranteed entry into the United States, not even U.S. Citizens. Even if you have the right documents, visa, or legal status, you may still be denied entry to the United States, so it's best to be prepared for the worst.


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