What Does It Mean to Hold a Second Passport?
Holding a second passport means that an individual has two citizenships at the same time in two different countries. The legal term for this status is referred to as dual citizenship. When a person has dual citizenship, the person is eligible to take advantages of the benefits of nationality offered by both countries such as the ability to seek help at both of the countries’ embassies, the ability to live, work, and travel without restriction in both countries (and all other nations with which the country has travel treaties), and the ability to seek political offices and vote in national elections.
In order to acquire a second citizenship, the foreign national must complete a legal process called naturalization. Every country has different requirements for the naturalization process, but in general naturalization applications include the following:
1. Presence as a Permanent Resident: Almost all countries require a foreign national to first spend a certain period of time physically residing in the country before the national can apply for citizenship. The required period of time may vary from country to country as well as which citizenship category the national qualifies for. For example, in the United States, if a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen, the national is eligible to apply for citizenship after three years of permanent residence. Conversely, if the foreign national receives a permanent job position from a U.S. employer, the national must wait five years before applying for citizenship.
2. Oath of Allegiance: Many countries require new citizens to take an oath of allegiance to the country which can include a pledge to uphold the morals of the country and the ideals enumerated in the country’s constitution, as well as a promise to enlist in the country’s national armed forces.
Importantly, some countries require new citizens to renounce their previous nationality which means the new citizen must give up the other country’s passport and citizenship rights and responsibilities. The following countries generally do not recognized dual citizenship: Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Monaco, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palou, Papua, Principe Island, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
However, many other countries do recognize dual citizenship, and in these countries foreign nationals are not required to give up their former citizenship. The following countries generally recognize dual citizenship: Albania, Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Carpe Verde, Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Macao, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nevis, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Christopher, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.
3. Test of the Country’s Language, History, Government, and Culture: Several nations require their naturalization applicants to pass an examination that tests their knowledge of the country’s language (with oral, written, reading, and listening components), its history, its government, and its culture. Some countries allow applicants to retake the test if they fail it, but other nations do not. Additionally, some countries allow the elderly or minors an exemption from this requirement.
How Can I Obtain a Second Passport?
There are several different ways that a foreign national can qualify for citizenship in another country. First, a foreign national can marry a citizen of that country, which would qualify the national for citizenship as a foreign spouse. Second, a foreign worker could receive an offer of permanent employment by a business that is located in the country, which would qualify the national for citizenship as a foreign employee. Third, some countries extend citizenship to refugees or asylum seekers who are seeking safe haven from their own country of origin that is experiencing a catastrophe such as a civil war or earthquake.
Finally, the vast majority of countries offer a citizenship by investment program whereby a foreign national (and his or her spouse and children) can qualify for citizenship by investing a specific amount of money into the country. Every country’s program is slightly different, but in general all countries require the citizen to meet a minimum investment amount, to have some sort of business or entrepreneurial experience, and to prove that the investment funds are derived from a lawful source of income such as the foreign national’s salary, savings, mortgage, etc.
Benefits of Having a Second Passport
There are many benefits to possessing two (or more) passports. For instance, having multiple passports can make international travel easier for a person who may need to travel between countries that do not have formal diplomatic relations. For instance, United States citizens require visas in order to travel to Iran and obtaining these visas can be a difficult and lengthy process. However, if a U.S. citizen is also a citizen of Iran, the individual can simply use the Iranian passport to enter that country, thereby allowing the citizen to completely bypass the visa requirement.
Moreover, having a second passport is even more convenient in the context of international travel if the second passport is from a European Union member state. The European Union maintains visa free travel amongst all of its member states, so that a citizen of one member nation can enjoy visa free travel to the other member nations. The European Union includes such popular travel destinations as Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Spain.
Disadvantages of Having a Second Passport
While having a second passport does have obvious benefits, it is also important to consider the potential disadvantages that stem from having responsibilities and allegiances to multiple countries. For example, an individual holding two passports may be required to register with two nations’ armed services. Additionally, by having two passports the foreign national usually subjects him or herself to the tax laws and reporting requirements of both countries that can result in the national paying double taxes on the same source of income.