The most common way an individual gains citizenship is by birth. If the country of birth permits second citizenship, you can obtain it in several different ways.
In most cases, the first citizenship comes from the country in which you or your parents were born; this is referred to as birth citizenship. It can also be the case that you have obtained citizenship by naturalization, after living in that country. Alternatively, you can gain citizenship by investing in a country of your choice.
Holding citizenship in two or more countries is referred to as dual citizenship. Holders have legal obligations and rights in all countries where they are citizens. The legislation of some countries allows for dual citizenship, while other nations have created laws against it.
As an example: China, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Andorra, among others, forbid dual citizenship. Still, some of these countries may offer exemptions, as it is the case with Azerbaijan, where the President may offer dual citizenship to people of special importance.
Japan, for example, gives a Japanese citizen until the age of 22 to decide their country of loyalty if they have obtained dual citizenship through a country that allows it.
Exceptions to dual citizenship laws
Although dual citizenship is not permitted in Singapore, there are also exceptions. Similar to Japan, a child born abroad to Singaporean parents, may maintain dual citizenship until the age of 21 years. After 21, the individual has 12 months to take the Oath of Allegiance and Loyalty and renounce the foreign citizenship, or their Singaporean citizenship will be revoked.
Another example is the Netherlands, where citizens can lose their Dutch citizenship if they have a foreign nationality, and reside outside the country or the EU for ten years. A person can become a Dutch citizen by birth, adoption, marriage, descent or through naturalization, which also makes you a citizen of the EU. Citizens from the EU can travel and reside freely in any of the member states of the European Union
In countries such as Saudi Arabia, India or Iran a person automatically loses his or her citizenship if they acquire a citizenship of another country.
The best way to know if someone is eligible or not for dual citizenship in a particular country, is obtaining information directly from a consultancy firm, immigration lawyers or specific diplomacy. In countries where dual citizenship is forbidden, individuals are required to renounce their citizenship when they acquire a new nationality of another country.
In some scenarios, when countries pass laws to concede dual citizenship, individuals who had lost citizenship by birth after gaining citizenship from another country, are eligible to apply and obtain back the nationality they lost.
The Benefits of Second Citizenship
Holders of dual citizenship, especially from developed countries such as those in Europe (Malta, Cyprus, Montenegro or Turkey) enjoy a privileged position. They benefit from both countries by having access to work opportunities, robust healthcare systems, voting rights, top-notch education, or even running for elective positions.
Dual citizenship also means the ability to have more than one passport, and this comes with personal benefits such as travel freedom and the opportunity to have two or even more places to own property and develop business activities; e.g., register companies, assets, open bank accounts, among others.
In contrast, dual citizenship is sometimes associated with adverse outcomes especially on matters of taxation; a trustworthy consultancy firm should be able to identify any tax planning risks when someone is obtaining dual citizenship from a country.