The Pros and Cons of Second Citizenship

Being a citizen here and abroad can have both benefits and drawbacks for you and your business.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The idea of having citizenship in more than one country was unfathomable at one point in history. It was a common belief that a person could have loyalty to one country and only one country. President Theodore Roosevelt once described the notion of second citizenship as “a self-evident absurdity.”

Our ideas on the subject have evolved though, and the number of people who hold citizenship in more than one country is rising. There are those who are lucky enough to claim it at infancy because they were born to parents of foreign nationality in a country that bestows citizenship at birth. Many people, though, seek to establish second citizenship as adults because of its international advantages. And when you think about the globalization of 21st century business, communication and travel, having citizenship in two countries makes a lot of sense. So, what are the pros and cons?

Related: 6 Benefits of Second Citizenship for Entrepreneurs

The Pros

Let’s look at the benefits first, since that’s what attracts people to the idea of having two passports in their travel luggage. Yes, if you have a second citizenship, you can have two passports, and it makes travelling between two countries a lot easier for business or family visits since it eliminates the need for long-stay visas. 

Two major benefits are the options for owning land in another country and potentially paying lower taxes. It’s not uncommon for countries to restrict land ownership to their citizens. If you find yourself spending long periods in two different countries, buying a home might begin to look a lot more appealing than an extended stay in a hotel.

There’s also the possibility of paying fewer taxes if most of your business is overseas and you’re in the States less than six months out of the year. Just remember that offshore bank accounts can be a complex thing, and if done improperly, they can get you in trouble. (Contrary to popular belief, they are not outright illegal.)

The Cons

Unsurprisingly, acquiring second citizenship can be rather difficult, and if you’re trying to navigate all the government red tape on your own, you may spend years and thousands of dollars, only to find out that you don’t qualify or your application was done improperly, and your hard work was all in vain. Plus, governments might reject your application without giving you any explanation or a second chance. Some governments do not even allow applicants to approach them directly. Instead, many people interested in second citizenship seek help through a company — usually a government-authorized agent — that specializes in the process, such as Dubai-based Savory & Partners.

Related: This Is How One Entrepreneur Started a Business in the U.S. Without Citizenship (Video)

Another potential drawback to second citizenship is that you are bound by the laws of both countries. If you happen to become a citizen of a country that has mandatory military service, guess what: You’re now in the military! This could even result in losing your U.S. citizenship if that country engages in military conflict with the United States. 

Like most things in life, being a citizen of two countries can have both its advantages and drawbacks. It’s important to consider why you’re seeking second citizenship and determine if it’s the right fit for your life and work both now and in the future, and your best bet is to consult with government-authorized agents for that country.

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