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How Many Citizenships Can You Have?

David Bonellie

David Bonellie

Last updated: March 20, 2024

How Many Citizenships Can You Have?

In the 2020s, the significance of evaluating the benefits of holding multiple citizenships is highlighted by increased global mobility and changing legal landscapes. The possibility of acquiring additional citizenships is contingent upon the laws of both the individual’s home country and the country from which they are seeking new citizenship.

Are you limited to only one citizenship and passport?

Each country has its own set of Citizenship and Nationality laws that govern the ability of its citizens to have one or multiple citizenships.

For instance, many countries may allow for multiple citizenship if the person obtains them at birth from their parents having different nationalities. That country in question might restrict someone from having more than one citizenship if they were to naturalize as a citizen of another country. 

Certain countries have always had a favored position for dual citizenship. Most notably, US citizens have no restrictions on obtaining multiple citizenship unless the citizenship can cause significant harm to the country. British citizenship laws were amended in the 1948 Nationality Act, which removed the restrictions on maintaining British citizenship and obtaining other citizenships. 

Other countries are restrictive about allowing multiple citizenships and passports. Spain is possibly one nation that springs to mind as a country that restricts dual citizenship. There are exceptions, which can keep their original citizenship, including Spanish-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, or Portugal. Natural-born citizens of these nations have a fast-track naturalization process to obtain Spanish citizenship in two years as opposed to ten years.

South African citizens need to inform their government that they are obtaining another citizenship through a formal submission. In theory, the government must approve before applicants claim their second, third, or fourth citizenship.

Globally the stance towards making multiple citizenships legal is changing in the modern day. Many nations with restrictions on having more than one citizenship are moving towards making exceptions, at the very least based on a set of exceptional circumstances.

Should you get more than one citizenship?

If the opportunity exists to claim or invest in more than one citizenship, then more often than not, someone should consider getting one. Citizenship is the pinnacle status a person can have concerning benefits and rights in a country. There are significant benefits that can arise from having a second citizenship. 

Just a few of these benefits can include: 

  1. Increased global mobility. A second passport with excellent visa-free access allows for a more effortless global movement. Visas are also challenging to come by for certain nationalities. Applicants can have their visa rejected purely based on their existing citizenship. Another nationality to use can improve obtaining visas in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and others;
  2. Educational opportunities. Making an investment that can lead to a European Union citizenship, such as in Malta, allows that person to study in Europe at local rates, saving thousands of dollars each year compared to international student rates. Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda allow at least one family member to study at the University of the West Indies if they use the UWI Fund option for citizenship;
  3. Political stability and personal safety. If there is political turmoil in a person’s home country, they can very quickly move to the country of their new citizenship. At times citizens will have access to live, work and study in various countries because their new citizenship has freedom of movement agreements such as the EU, OECS, and CARICOM; and
  4. Taxes and generational wealth planning. Taxes play a significant role in reducing family wealth. Second citizenship can assist a person in moving assets from high tax jurisdiction to a tax-friendly country. Additionally, physically moving to a tax residence in a tax-friendly country is easier if they are citizens or, at times, residents. Portugal’s non-habitual residence program allows non-EU citizens to claim a ten-year tax allowance for income earned outside of Portugal. A possible reason for Portugal’s Golden Visa investors to take advantage.

When should you be cautious about obtaining another citizenship and passport?

There are occasions when someone should be cautious about obtaining another citizenship. Reasons typically include the converse of reasons to get a second citizenship. 

  1. The country might impose income taxes based on your citizenship alone or impose wealth taxes based on an individual’s net worth. This current is the case for US citizens, regardless of where they live or how long they have lived outside of the US;
  2. Conscription into the military is something that some countries still follow and is mandatory for citizens to complete if they are of a certain age when they obtain citizenship. Greece has a compulsory twelve-month military service from the ages of nineteen to forty-five years old for male citizens;
  3. Sanctions on countries can be a concern for someone obtaining another citizenship. At times even dual citizens are restricted from applying for visas in other countries and even partaking in specific investment opportunities because one of their citizenships might be in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

How can you obtain multiple citizenships to build a passport portfolio?

There are many options to build a passport portfolio and obtain multiple passports. A few of the options are listed below:

Descent

Family ties can allow someone to obtain citizenship at birth or by registration because of where their ancestors were born or what citizenship they had at the time of their birth. This process can, however, take many years for Government offices to function. It is not uncommon for someone to wait three years to receive their citizenship by descent from many European countries.

Naturalization

When someone fulfills a country’s naturalization requirements in their citizenship laws, that person can apply for citizenship by naturalization. The total time varies from country to country, but the potential citizen typically needs to spend between 183 to 270 days per year in the country for five years in many countries. Others have much longer time frames. Andorra requires twenty years of residence before someone can apply for citizenship.

Marriage

Very few countries allow citizenship by marriage in the modern day. There are, however, many countries that allow fast-track citizenship for married couples. Portugal and Italy allow someone married to a citizen to apply for citizenship without living in the country after a few years. 

Citizenship by Investment 

The citizenship by investment industry is a route for persons to make qualified investments into countries to be awarded citizenship in return. There are several programs to analyze before making an investment decision. Each country has its list of criteria, and certain citizenships and passports can fit the investor’s needs better than others. 

Investors can use more than one program and obtain multiple citizenships over time. It is common for someone to use the Caribbean citizenship by investment program to get their second citizenship within a few months. After that, they opt to invest in a secondary program to obtain a residence in Europe.

Golden Visas 

The Golden Visa programs are an incredibly popular option for high-net-worth individuals to obtain residence after investing, especially in Europe. Portugal’s Golden Visa program is one of the more accessible programs that can lead to another citizenship after five years. A great complimentary option for an investor looking to build their passport portfolio. 

If citizenship is not top of mind, other leading programs include Greece, Spain, and Latvia. These programs offer long-term residence options for investors with minimal physical presence requirements. These programs allow the investors to live in their country of residence and travel throughout Europe’s Schengen area on their residence ID cards.

Final Thoughts

Citizenship and residency by the investment industry help thousands of people each year to improve their global mobility and business opportunities and help protect generational wealth. The experts at Global Residence Index can assist you in building an effective citizenship strategy and help implement this strategy for you.

FAQ

Is it possible to have triple citizenship?

If a country allows dual citizenship, it does not necessarily mean two. Triple citizenship is possible, and it is even possible for someone to build a passport portfolio with multiple citizenships. 

Do I need to renounce my citizenship to obtain another citizenship if I am from the United States?

More often than not, you do not need to renounce your existing citizenship. That being said, a record number of USA citizens have renounced their citizenship in recent years. Many opt to use the citizenship by investment route to do this.

Can I obtain multiple citizenships by investment? 

Yes, there is no restriction on obtaining multiple citizenship and passports through the legal citizenship programs. Many citizens from the United States invest in multiple programs to have more than one citizenship and passport.

Is there a difference between dual citizenship and multiple citizenship?

The two terms are used interchangeably, and dual can mean two or more citizenships. It is essential always to understand the state of your existing citizenship and whether you need to renounce your citizenship upon obtaining another. 

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.

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We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.

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We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.

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Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers, as well as providers of eligible investment options.