There are advantages and disadvantages to dual citizenship from any country.
My husband once joked that our son would have all the natural born privilege that the modern world affords – white, male, self employed business-owning parents with dual citizenship to both the UK and the USA. Of course we’ve barely got the spare cash to go on vacation to the local Butlins let alone take him to see his grandparents in the United States, but ya know, the opportunities are there. He is very lucky, but I did question at first the value of dual citizenship and wanted to research both the benefits and the problems it might cause before we started the process.
If you find yourself in the same situation, whether you’re looking at dual citizenship for yourself, for a child or family member, here are some things to think about:
Advantages of dual citizenship:
- You will be able to move freely between the two countries without visa or immigration restrictions.
- You will get privileges available to citizens of both countries.
- You will have the freedom to choose where he lives and works as an adult.
- You will be able to vote in both countries.
- You will be eligible for schooling in both countries (in some cases, this may be a free or reduced cost education).
- You will get two flashy passports to show off to his friends.
- It might help cement a feeling of cultural identity and a connection to both sides of heritage.
Disadvantages of dual citizenship:
- Registration may cost a hefty fee and require travel.
- Registration may require a lot of paperwork or evidence; some folks recommend a lawyer to register an overseas birth for certain countries and we personally did use an immigration lawyer for our visas and for our dual citizenship.
- In certain countries, registration may come with mandatory public or military service.
- In certain countries, registration comes with tax requirements that can affect adults even if they live overseas (this is what I would consider to be a major downside of dual nationality with the United States)
- In some situations such as security clearance, dual citizenship can affect your ability to apply for jobs with classified information.
- If there is a marital breakdown and a custody disagreement, the overseas parent might use the overseas passport to travel and there may be further complications with custody.
Ultimately for us, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The USA does have overseas tax requirements; but if that becomes an issue, our son can always give up his citizenship once he’s 18. We think it’s easier for him to get rid of it if he doesn’t want it than to try and get all the paperwork together once he’s an adult – it’s something we can offer him now that affords him more choices later on.
It’s an absolute ton of hassle for us but we’ve made the decision to plough onwards. At least a trip to the American Embassy in London will be an excuse for a mini-break away for us!
The bottom line for us is that there are a lot of advantages and freedoms to having dual citizenship but it’s a serious matter that you definitely need to research thoroughly and never rush into, even if you are entitled to it.
This post was updated in March 2019.