Dual Citizenship

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti | 26 Nov 2022

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Definition: Dual Citizenship

Dual Citizenship is a legal state of a person holding two or more citizenships simultaneously.  Holders of Dual Citizenship can exercise the rights conferred to them at law in those countries in which they hold citizenship.  Malta allows dual citizenship, indeed multiple citizenships, and allows holders of other citizenships to acquire citizenship in Malta without renouncing their prior citizenships.

The concept of dual citizenship builds on the foundational concept of sovereignty.  Every country is sovereign in enacting the laws regulating citizenship and the conditions under which a person is granted, renounces or loses citizenship is strictly within the discretion of every state.

For a long time, many legislatures have treated dual citizenship as problematic and a legal state that should be avoided for its citizens. However, in recent years many countries have adopted a more favourable stance towards allowing their citizens to hold Dual Citizenship through relaxation of requirements for naturalisation or simply through allowing or recognising Dual/Multiple Citizenship without the need to renounce their original citizenship.

The Dual Citizenship Report

Following the publications of the first two editions of the Dual Citizenship Report, Chetcuti Cauchi has published the third edition of the Dual Citizenship Report, this time a global edition assessing the dual citizenship laws of over 100 countries globally.  The Dual Citizenship Report delves into whether a particular jurisdiction permits, limits, or else forbids its citizens from enjoying dual and multiple citizenship. Every country chapter is grounded on the feedback from citizenship lawyers from law firms worldwide who contributed their commentaries and analysis of dual citizenship laws in their country. 

Dual Citizenship globally 

Statistically, our dual citizenship studies reveal that 60% of countries surveyed allow dual citizenship, whilst only 20% of the countries entirely prohibit dual citizenship. The restrictive practice that naturalisation results in a withdrawal or loss of citizenship, has been widely discarded by many in favour of a more pro-dual citizenship stance. Moreover, there is only a small percentage of states which demand that a choice needs to be made by those born with dual citizenship, i.e. between their two citizenships, upon attaining the age of majority. 

European countries, as well as Latin America, North America, the Pacific and the Caribbean, constitute the majority of countries which allow dual citizenship. On the other hand, dual citizenship legislation in the Commonwealth of the Independent States and Africa are more diverse, however, Southeast Asia is considered as the most restrictive jurisdiction with regards to this matter. 

Countries which allow dual citizenship without any restrictions include Malta, Canada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, New Zealand, Saint Lucia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Cyprus. There are certain countries which do not explicitly refer to their dual citizenship laws, and as a result, they abstain from imposing any repercussions, resulting from the obtainment of another nationality. 

As shown from the Global report there are certain jurisdictions which although they permit dual citizenship, they might still impose specific limitations such as matters relating to public office. For example, Russia poses a restriction on those members elected for the Federation Council or else those which contribute in the editorial office of a broadcasting entity or a mass media. Various countries such as South Africa and Russia, only permit dual citizenship if the individual informs the authorities. 

On the other side of the globe, there are other jurisdictions which entirely prohibit dual citizenship and also hold that the attainment of another citizenship would result in the loss of their own citizenship. Some of such countries are Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Monaco and China. With regards to countries like Estonia, Japan and Indonesia, there is an exception for adult dual citizens or children under a certain age. However, once they attain the age of majority, such individuals have to decide on which citizenship to keep and which to renounce. 

There are other jurisdictions which prohibit dual citizenship, but which make expectations in certain cases, or which are subject to certain conditions, compromising international treaties with certain countries, or in cases of marriage or birth. With regards to EU countries such as Latvia, Bulgaria and Germany, dual citizenship is permitted in relation to EU member states, amongst other criteria. There are countries which have a set of dual nationality agreements in place. Some of such countries are Pakistan, Spain, Nicaragua and Honduras. Countries such as Norway, Austria, South Korea and Lithuania make allowances for dual citizenship for dual citizens either by marriage or birth, or both.

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