How Many Citizenships Can You Have?
What to Keep in Mind When Pursuing Multiple Citizenships?
There is a common misconception that you’re only allowed to have one or two citizenships. While most people will only have a maximum of two citizenships, it’s technically possible to have many more.
If you’re contemplating becoming a citizen of another country, here’s what you need to know about holding multiple citizenships at the same time.
Are Multiple Citizenships Legal?
Dual citizenship — or having two citizenships at once — is more common than having three or more citizenships.
If every country where you have citizenship doesn’t require you to give up other citizenships, there is technically no maximum number of citizenships an individual can hold. It’s possible, but extremely unusual, for one person to be a citizen of over a dozen countries.
It Depends on Your Native Country
Some countries require you to forfeit citizenship if you choose to pursue a citizenship elsewhere. They also refuse to recognize citizenship status for other countries.
Chinese citizenship is a good example of this. If you become a U.S. citizen and you’re originally from China, you’ll automatically lose your Chinese citizenship. China doesn’t recognize citizenships from other countries. India has a similar system.
Countries like the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom recognize dual citizenship. It’s quite common for people to have dual citizenship in these countries. Each of these countries recognizes multiple citizenships, so it’s possible to hold citizenship with all three countries at the same time.
Which Countries Allow Multiple Citizenships?
Many countries allow for multiple citizenships with the United States, but some have strict requirements.
Some countries consider multiple citizenships on a case-by-case basis:
- Cabo Verde
- Czech Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Lithuania (sometimes)
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Sierra Leone
- Spain (sometimes)
- Sri Lanka
- Switzerland (sometimes)
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- United Kingdom
Some countries will allow multiple citizenships only by heritage. If you have a family member native to one of these countries, they will respect your pursuit of citizenship in another country or your direct inheritance of citizenship by birth:
- Hong Kong (territory of China)
- South Korea
How Does Marriage Affect Citizenship?
Some countries offer citizenship directly through marriage to a citizen. Most countries offer people an opportunity to apply for citizenship after they’ve married a citizen and become permanent residents for a specific period of time.
The following countries will accept legal marriage as sufficient criteria for citizenship without any further steps:
- Cape Verde
Switzerland has a waiting period for citizenship by marriage. After five years of living in Switzerland married to a Swiss citizen, you’re automatically eligible for full Swiss citizenship. Other countries will allow you to automatically apply for citizenship upon marriage and will typically grant citizenship soon thereafter.
What Does It Mean To Be a Citizen by Naturalization?
Becoming a citizen by naturalization means that you’re a citizen of a country that is not your native country. After you meet a country’s requirements, which usually involve some sort of permanent residency for a specific number of years, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization.
Citizens by naturalization have lived in a country for a few years and have an excellent record of abiding by the law.
Citizenship by naturalization affords someone almost every right and responsibility that native-born citizens have.
What Is Citizenship by Investment?
Citizenship by investment programs are processes where someone offers to invest a substantial amount of money into a country’s economy in exchange for citizenship or a special residence permit.
An individual can make their investment by opening a business that will create required job opportunities, donating it to the country’s educational system, or contributing directly to government-sponsored developmental funds designed to provide infrastructure and improve a country’s standard of living.
Several countries, including Turkey, Spain, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada, have similar programs. Some citizenships by investment are less expensive than others. Investment ranges span from about $100,000 USD to $1,000,000 USD.
Countries like Austria do not have a minimum investment and will consider citizenship by investment proposals on a case-to-case basis. Each country has its own additional requirements for citizenship eligibility. You need to meet those requirements in addition to making the investment.
How Many Citizenships Should You Have?
While you can hold many citizenships, you need to consider if it’s actually a good idea to do so.
Citizenships afford people certain rights, but they also come with responsibilities. It can be difficult to navigate financial matters like paying taxes when living and working in multiple countries.
It can also be difficult to keep up with residency requirements if you can’t spend the necessary amount of time in each country. Before you pursue dual nationality or triple citizenship, here’s what you need to consider.
Consider Your Specific Needs
Do you actually need citizenship in multiple countries, or is visiting enough? If you’re considering getting another citizenship for career-related activities, there may be a visa that suits your needs better than citizenship. Consider if the benefits of citizenship are necessary for you to be able to live your life in multiple countries.
If you have citizenship in a country with a very strong passport, that passport may be all you need to travel the world for a few months. You may be eligible for permanent residency in a country without having to pursue citizenship. Just meet the minimum residency requirements to stay in good standing.
If you’re an American or Canadian citizen and you’d like to travel back and forth between America and Canada freely, you may not even need a visa. The USA and Canada allow their citizens to visit between countries for as long as six months at a time without a visa. If you don’t intend to work in the country while you visit, there’s no need for official paperwork. All you need is your passport.
Determine Where You Want To Live
The most important citizenship you’ll have is citizenship in the country you consider your home country. You should always prioritize that citizenship. If you don’t intend to live in another country, you may not need more than one citizenship.
Most people with dual citizenship will primarily live in one country and take extended trips to another country. They don’t necessarily live two full lives across borders.
This is a feasible strategy:
- If you have family abroad who will open their home to you for long periods of time;
- If you already own property in a foreign country; or
- If your career will arrange accommodations for you while you’re visiting that country.
If you have triple citizenship, you’ll need to split your time, finances, and obligations three ways. If you truly think you’ll live an equal amount of time in each country, it may be worthwhile to pursue three citizenships. If you know you’ll be spending most of your time in one or two countries, you may not benefit from holding additional citizenships.
Determine How Often You’ll Travel
Obtaining citizenship in a country may not be worthwhile if you only intend to be there for a few weeks to a month every year. It may create unnecessary expenses to maintain a presence in a place where you won’t spend a significant amount of time. If you plan to spend an entire season in a country, pursuing citizenship might be a good idea.
Citizenship can act as a safety net if you have aging family members abroad and you may need to spend unpredictable amounts of time caring for your family abroad. Obtaining citizenship will give you the ability to travel to and from the country at a moment’s notice and stay for as long as you need to.
The Bottom Line
Obtaining multiple citizenships can be useful for people who spend a lot of time traveling between a few different countries. People with family members spread across several countries often benefit from the freedom and flexibility of having multiple citizenships when they need to spend time with their relatives.
Multiple citizenships can sometimes be difficult to navigate. If you aren’t sure how to obtain multiple citizenships or uphold your responsibilities in several countries at the same time, it helps to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. We’d be happy to offer you legal advice and assistance if you need some assistance navigating the process.