Living as an Expat with Dual Citizenship: Everything there is to know

Living as an Expat with Dual Citizenship: Everything there is to know

19 February 2024 Expat life

Travelling the world, admiring the sights and getting to know the most diverse cultures is one of the most wonderful things made possible by our modern age. However, actually living in one’s favourite country and discovering the culture in depth can offer even greater happiness for some. Dual citizenship makes this idea a real possibility.

Dual citizenship is a status offered by many countries to citizens of another country, which allows you to be a citizen of two or more different nations at the same time. Once you have obtained this status, you can reside as an expat in your favourite country at any time and live like a natural-born citizen of that nationality with almost no restrictions.

In this article, we want to provide you with all the information you need to get started on obtaining dual citizenship for the country of your choice. We will go into more detail about the advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship, introduce you to some of the best countries for obtaining it, and finally prepare you to obtain this status for the country of your choice.

The advantages of dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is characterised by several advantages compared to one of the various types of residence permits in a country. In the following list, we would like to take a closer look at some of these advantages:

Travel between the two countries without restrictions: Thanks to dual nationality, you are considered a full citizen of two countries. For this reason, you can travel back and forth between the two without any problems. You do not have to worry about losing your rights in one of the countries, as can be the case with a temporary residence permit. In the United States, for example, you will lose your Green Card status (permanent residence) if you stay outside the country for longer than 12 months.

The ability to vote in both countries: When most people think about living in a country that is not their country of birth, they know that they do not have the right to vote there. This is often the case even if they have lived there for many years. However, as a dual citizen, you are considered a full citizen of two nations, so the law allows you to cast your vote in elections of both countries.

Job search and career: It’s no secret that finding a job in a foreign country can be very difficult and involve a lot of effort. Even if you already live in a country but are only considered a permanent resident, building a career can be difficult. With dual citizenship, however, a considerable burden is lifted from your shoulders, and you can seek career options throughout the entire job market of the country or state.

Access to the social safety net, insurance, and pension in your favourite country: As an expat in another country, with a work visa for example, it is usually not possible to obtain good social security, pension or health insurance or other social services in the same way as they are available to nationals of that country. Dual citizenship makes it possible to receive these social benefits, sometimes even in both countries or states at the same time. This can be especially beneficial in countries with strong social security networks, such as Germany or Canada. Depending on the respective laws, there may of course be some conditions, such as the insurance being paused if you spend too long outside the borders.

Economic and political advantages: The benefits already mentioned apply to most expats who simply want to live in another country. However, if your focus is on political or economic business, dual citizenship also offers you some advantages such as investment opportunities, trade options and diplomatic co-operation possibilities that are not offered by a temporary stay.

What to take into account with dual citizenship

Although being a dual citizen offers you some advantages over regular immigrants in a country, it is important to remember that some difficulties can always arise. You should always be prepared for the following possible complications:

Difficulties with taxes: As if taxes weren’t complicated enough, the tax situation can be even worse for dual citizens of several countries. This can lead to so-called double taxation, in which you have to pay taxes in both jurisdictions. One such example is Australia, as the government requires citizens to file taxes for their worldwide income. This can be incredibly complicated, and you should never take on this task alone. Look for a professional tax advisor who specialises in such situations and can help you navigate the confusing world of taxes.

Naturalization takes time: Living in a new place as an expat is very different from just spending a few weeks there on holiday. In addition to all the paperwork that has to be done regularly, you also have to familiarise yourself with the language and culture, which can be very different from what you are used to in your home country. Important cultural customs of the inhabitants often only become clear once you have lived there for a while. It is also quite possible that you will be treated as a foreigner by the inhabitants of the country until you have sufficiently assimilated into the established culture. You should always be aware of this.

Exclusion or restrictions from third countries: The political history between nations plays a significant role in determining which people are allowed or not allowed in a certain country. As an expat with dual or multiple citizenship, you are considered a resident of several nations. For this reason, it can lead to even more restrictions which make it more difficult or even forbid you to enter certain territories, even if it is only for a holiday. As a simple example, a citizen of the United States may face restrictions when travelling to countries such as Cuba or Iran. Always inform yourself about the political situation as well as visa and entry requirements if you are planning to visit another country.

The steps to dual citizenship as an expat

To round off our article, we would now like to explain the general steps you need to take to apply for and eventually be issued dual citizenship from your favourite country. As the actual steps may differ from country to country, you should first check the official websites on the subject of immigration, visas, and citizenship. There are usually also other informative websites that explain frequently asked questions in more detail and often offer personalised advice.

Another option is to visit an embassy of the country from which you wish to apply for dual citizenship. It is also important to prepare and submit the correct documents such as passport, birth certificate, citizenship declaration and others. In general, you should find out exactly what the eligibility criteria are to obtain dual citizenship in the respective country. You can become an Italian or United Sates citizen through marriage, while that may not be possible in other countries.

Once you have completed the initial steps, you will typically be required to undergo a period of naturalization by residing in your destination country for a certain duration. In Canada and Mexico, it is possible to live there for five years and then obtain full citizenship. If you pay attention to all these points, and especially with the help of a competent consultant, nothing will stand in your way on the path to dual citizenship.

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