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Dual citizenship

We offer foreigners customised solutions for obtaining a second citizenship for investment

Freedom of movement and the right to choose a comfortable place to work and live are basic needs of a modern person. The possibility to move abroad, open a business, find an interesting job or receive education corresponding to international standards is achieved by obtaining dual citizenship.

Definition of dual nationality

Dual citizenship occurs when a citizen of one country takes citizenship of another country (or countries) but does not lose his or her first nationality.

In some countries, second citizenship is acquired by birth or marriage, while other countries allow only naturalisation. For example, a child born in the USA automatically becomes an American citizen. In the UK, citizenship is more easily acquired by ‘blood right’, i.e. by being born into the family of a British citizen, so you do not automatically get a second passport in England simply because you were born in that country.

It should be clarified that in legal practice dual citizenship and second citizenship are different concepts. Nevertheless, most people are not aware of this difference and simply call dual citizenship the fact that a person has a passport of another country. In what follows we will stick to this simple definition. But to give you a better idea, let’s first look at what the difference is.

Dual citizenship is possible only when a special agreement is signed between two countries in which both states recognise each other’s citizenship. As a rule, the authorities of such countries:

  • Exchange information on the possession of a second passport by some of their citizens;
  • Together with citizenship, certain rights and obligations of dual citizenship holders towards the other country are recognised. For example, if it is stipulated in the agreement, after acquiring another citizenship, you will not be conscripted into the army in your new home country a second time if you have already served in your home country.

A good example of two European countries that have signed an agreement on dual citizenship is the UK and Ireland.

Multiple or, as it is also called, second citizenship is not regulated by international agreements on dual citizenship. A person executes it on his/her own, under his/her personal responsibility, often without the knowledge of his/her home jurisdiction. In this case, each country will not take into account your second passport and the rights and obligations arising in connection with the second citizenship in the other state.

What is the difference between second citizenship and dual citizenship?

QuestionsDual citizenship

Second citizenship

Do you need to notify the authorities of your second passport?


Not unless notification is required by law.

Do the authorities in the home country recognise citizenship of another country?


Yes, unless required to renounce the first citizenship, recognising dual citizenship does not relieve you of most of the responsibilities of being a citizen in the host country.

Where do your civil rights and obligations apply?

Some rights and obligations may be interchangeable depending on agreements between countries.

Each country imposes full rights and obligations on the citizen.

Advantages of dual citizenship

Visa-free travel around the world

Almost every jurisdiction has signed agreements on visa-free or simplified border crossing with other states. A second passport significantly increases the number of such countries and allows you to save a lot of time, effort and money that is usually lost in queues at visa centres.

In some cases, dual citizenship allows you to obtain a more favourable visa category to countries with strict immigration laws. For example, with Grenada investment citizenship, a permanent business visa to the United States of America is available to you.

Rights and benefits

Dual citizenship equates its holder with all other citizens of the country in terms of the sum of rights and obligations. In the jurisdiction that issued your passport, you are free to do anything you want: holiday, study, work, do business, vote in elections and own real estate. Along with your passport, you have access to public assistance and social security. Note that the benefits of a second passport often extend to other jurisdictions as well. For example, a Caribbean passport offers certain advantages in the UK, as the UK has dual citizenship agreements with almost all Commonwealth countries. A Maltese passport is also an EU passport, which means that you will have equal rights with citizens of any European country that is a member of this association.

Business and financial benefits

You can open and run a business in another country as a full citizen. You also do not need to obtain a separate work permit to be employed in the country whose passport you hold. Dual citizenship makes it easier to work with foreign banks, because financial institutions often have stricter requirements for citizens of one country and are more loyal to citizens of another.

Tax optimisation

After obtaining a second citizenship, you can take advantage of the peculiarities of the tax legislation of your new home country and interstate agreements to save on taxes. In particular, double taxation treaties allow you to choose a state with a lower income tax for citizens. In some countries, new citizens have access to a favourable tax regime that does not provide for fiscal payments on income earned abroad.

Quality education for children

A significant number of economic immigration programmes offer investors the opportunity to grant residence permits to their family members. This means that your children will be able to choose a suitable college or university in several countries at once. Moreover, in some countries children have a unique opportunity to get a good education for free or on favourable terms.

New knowledge and experience

If you get a second passport to move abroad, you can familiarise yourself with a new culture and way of life. “Immersion method” is also a good way to learn a foreign language. If you get a job in another country, you will have unique experiences and work skills that will be appreciated in your home country if you decide to return.

Personal safety

It should be borne in mind that not all countries recognise second citizenship. However, if there are insurmountable political or economic difficulties in the country, second passport holders are more likely to keep their personal savings and be able to move with their family to another, safer place.

How does the state treat multiple citizenship?

There are two variants of the attitude of the authorities towards their citizens with multiple passports:

  • A state does not prohibit its subjects from obtaining citizenship of another jurisdiction. You do not have to renounce your first citizenship to become a citizen of another jurisdiction. However, as mentioned above, in most cases your second passport will not have any legal effect in your home country unless there is a dual citizenship agreement between the countries.
  • The state at the legislative level prohibits its citizens from holding multiple citizenships. Such countries can be conditionally divided into 2 categories:
    • Jurisdictions where citizens are severely penalised for holding a second passport, up to and including criminal prosecution and deprivation of the first citizenship;
    • States where dual citizenship is prohibited by law, but mechanisms to control and punish violators have not yet been developed.

Surprisingly, the countries where second citizenship is banned include not only Ethiopia and North Korea, but also Germany, Austria, Latvia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Japan.

How do I apply for a second citizenship?

It is not uncommon for second citizenship to be acquired automatically, either by birthright or by blood:

  • Birthright citizenship implies that the mere fact of being born in a country is sufficient grounds for citizenship;
  • The right of blood — in this case one or both parents of the child must be foreign nationals, regardless of where the child was born.

However, if you are not lucky enough to automatically obtain a second citizenship, you can obtain it through the naturalisation procedure, i.e. becoming a citizen of another country by fulfilling a number of conditions stipulated by the laws. 

There are 3 main ways to obtain a second citizenship through the naturalisation procedure: 

  1. Marriage to a foreigner

    By entering into a marriage or partnership with a foreigner, you can obtain a residence permit and, after a few years of residence, dual citizenship in his or her country.

  2. Work or business development

    This is a fairly common method, which involves many years of residence abroad on the basis of a work or business visa, compliance with all the requirements of this visa and a high degree of integration into a new society, which is expressed in an excellent command of the local language, as well as knowledge of the history and culture of the country. It usually takes 5-7 years for an immigrant to obtain a second citizenship. In some European countries the process of naturalisation through this route takes up to 12 years.

  3. Investments in the national economy

This is probably the easiest way for wealthy people to obtain a second passport. In addition, it usually does not take much time for the investor. You invest in the economic development of the country and after some time (5-12 months) you will be granted a second citizenship and a new passport. As a rule, such an opportunity is given within the framework of some government programme aimed at attracting foreign investment.

The advantages of economic citizenship are the special conditions for its registration:

  • Shortest processing time for a second passport;
  • There is no need to live abroad for several years;
  • You will not need to know the language, learn the history and cultural traditions of the country of your second citizenship.

Which countries offer citizenship for investment?

Second citizenship in exchange for a substantial investment in the national economy was first granted in 1984 in one small Caribbean island nation called St Kitts and Nevis. Since then, the number of jurisdictions offering passports for investment has multiplied many times over. But only a few investment programmes are worthy of your close attention, according to our immigration attorneys.

European passport

There are currently few European programmes where foreign investors can acquire dual citizenship. In the European Union, until recently, 2 countries provided such an opportunity. Unfortunately, the government of the Republic of Cyprus announced the suspension of its passport programme, so Malta is now the only EEA country where a passport can be obtained for investment.

Foreign investors can also participate in the passport programme of Montenegro, a candidate country for EU accession. A passport from this jurisdiction costs significantly less and allows you to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days each six-month period.

Why are foreign investors so attracted to a passport from an EU country? The fact is that European countries are characterised by high quality of life, political stability, prosperous economy, excellent medical care, as well as internationally recognised school and university education. In addition to free movement throughout the European Union, a European passport allows you to visit a large number of other countries without a visa, and also opens up a lot of opportunities for professional and personal development. If you are interested in investment immigration programmes in Europe, you can find out about the conditions of participation on our company’s website or by booking a consultation with an immigration lawyer.

Investment citizenship in Europe

Investment amount€1 310 000€350 000
Including non-refundable investments€600 000€100 000
Deadline for obtaining a second passportFrom 12 months6 months
Is it necessary to visit the country?YesYes

Caribbean passport

It was in the Caribbean that the very first investment citizenship programme was launched. Now many countries in this region offer their citizenship to generous foreign investors. However, the most interesting conditions are offered by 5 island states that were once British colonies. The list includes:

A passport from one of the Caribbean countries is relatively inexpensive for an investor with comparable opportunities compared to citizenship in other countries. By comparison, in some Caribbean jurisdictions you can obtain a second citizenship for around $100,000.

In the Caribbean, enterprising foreigners are offered 2 or more investment options, which usually include a non-refundable contribution to an economic development fund or the purchase of a share in a resort complex at the stage of an approved project or construction. After a few years, the investor can sell the property acquired in this way to a management company.

In most of the above states investment programmes have been going on for a long time, all stages of the process of obtaining citizenship for contribution to the national economy have been worked out to automation and, as a rule, do not require personal presence of the applicant. In other words, you will receive a Caribbean passport without leaving your home.

Another benefit that is rarely mentioned is that all of these jurisdictions are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which means that economic citizens of these countries have certain rights and benefits in the UK. For Caribbean passport holders, it is possible to obtain a long-term visa to Canada and the United States. You can read more about Caribbean passport programmes on our website or consult with our immigration lawyers.

Dual citizenship in the UK

The United Kingdom does not practice issuing its passports in return for financial contributions to the national economy. The British have even suspended the Investor visa, an immigration category that allowed foreign businessmen to move to England in exchange for investment without any additional conditions, such as knowledge of English or the need to prove education and professional skills.

The most promising route to citizenship in the UK is therefore naturalisation, where citizenship is a step-by-step process. As an example, we will look at the most typical immigration route:

  • You should first obtain a residence permit a long-term business or work visa that will allow you to live in the UK for a number of years. In all the different UK visa categories, choose the immigration route that will allow you to apply for indefinite leave to remain;
  • After 3-5 years, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence (ILR) in the UK if you fulfil all the requirements. There are a number of conditions that need to be met before the immigration authorities will approve your ILR. In particular, you need to prove that you have a good knowledge of the language and of life in the UK;
  • Permanent residence status almost equates you with the native population in terms of rights and obligations. However, most immigrants, after obtaining a permanent residence permit, wait another year and apply for British citizenship. The requirements for the future citizen are even stricter, as the immigration authorities believe that for 5-6 years you have already fully integrated into their society and speak fluent English.
    If you meet all the requirements and successfully pass the tests, your application will be approved and you will become a holder of the coveted British passport. It takes an average of 5-6 years for an immigrant on a long-stay work or business visa to naturalise.

The British are relaxed about dual nationality holders, so you won’t need to renounce your first citizenship. The UK passport is one of the strongest and most respected in the world — it will allow you to visit over 180 countries without additional red tape.

For many years Imperial & Legal lawyers have been successfully solving problems related to obtaining second citizenship and residence permits in various countries, including European Union states, the UK and Caribbean jurisdictions.

Our lawyers are deeply convinced that only through an individual approach to each client, taking into account all requirements and wishes, it is possible to choose the optimal investment programme for obtaining dual citizenship. Whatever the task facing an enterprising person and his family – visa-free travel, education, opening a company abroad or taking a well-deserved holiday by the sea – Imperial & Legal specialists will find the ideal solution.

FAQ about dual citizenship registration

What is the best option for citizenship for investment?

In order to give the right answer to this question, it is first necessary to define the objectives of the investor and his family.

If you need a second passport for unrestricted travel around the world, but have no plans to move abroad or are limited in funds, an investment citizenship in one of the Caribbean island countries is a suitable option.

If you intend to leave your home country to settle in Europe with your family, the passport programmes of Malta and Montenegro are worth considering.

Our consultants will carefully consider all your requirements and circumstances to find the most suitable solution.

Which investment citizenship programmes are more convenient — Caribbean or European?

As already mentioned, Caribbean programmes are taken into account to be able to travel freely around the world. However, such a document gives you the right to reside permanently only in the country that granted this citizenship. Investment immigration programmes in Europe offer much wider opportunities in this respect, as their participant can live in any European country.

In terms of monetary costs, the Caribbean passport is preferable, as it costs the investor much less, even if we compare it with such a relatively inexpensive option of acquiring citizenship for investment as the Montenegro programme.

Unlike in Europe, a Caribbean passport can be invested in 2-3 different ways for the investor’s choice: by making a non-refundable contribution to a special government fund, buying property or investing in a local business (the latter is not relevant for all Caribbean jurisdictions).

Caribbean countries provide their passport to the overseas investor remotely. Most Caribbean investment holders have never been to their second homeland.

Is dual citizenship allowed in Russia?

Russian laws do not prohibit citizens from holding citizenship of another state, unless they are serving in the security forces, judges, senior officials and deputies. Currently, agreements on dual citizenship are signed with Tajikistan and the Republic of Abkhazia. In other words, a passport of any other country obtained by a citizen of the Russian Federation has no legal force on its territory.

All holders of a second citizenship must notify the territorial authorities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 60 days of obtaining it. If you obtained a second passport outside the Russian Federation, you should also inform the authorities within 60 days, but only after returning to your home country. This rule also applies to Russian citizens in the status of permanent resident of another state.

Violation of the deadline for submitting the notification on obtaining a second citizenship is punishable by a monetary fine. Withholding information about the possession of a passport of a citizen of another country is prosecuted by law and, as a criminal offence, leads to a large fine and compulsory community service.

Why is it beneficial to invest in dual citizenship?

As a rule, investors receive a second passport for their contribution to the country’s economy quite quickly. They do not need to spend several years in the country and do not need to know the language thoroughly.

There are also such European countries, where foreign investors are not granted economic citizenship, but are ready for the purchase of real estate or contribution to the real sector of the economy to issue a residence permit without language requirements and the need to confirm education or work experience, so that in a few years you have the opportunity to get a residence permit and a passport.

Want to get a second passport?

We offer customised solutions to foreign nationals for obtaining a second citizenship by investment. Contact us today to discuss your options.