Becoming a dual citizen: the easiest and hardest countries
For expats, a second passport from your new country can be really useful and open up more opportunities. In some countries it’s really easy to gain dual citizenship, in others it’s more complicated and in some it is impossible.
Dual citizenship is when a person is recognised as a citizen in two countries. Having dual citizenship can provide an expat with extra security: easier access to investment opportunities; more employment options; voting rights; sometimes extra tax benefits.
Unfortunately, not all countries allow dual citizenship. In some cases, the country you are living in may not accept dual citizenship. In other cases, it may be your home country that prevents you from holding dual citizenship. For a full list of where dual citizenship is and is not allowed, click here.
For those who can apply for dual citizenship, here are some of the easiest and hardest countries to get a second passport in.
Easiest countries to obtain dual citizenship
One of the easiest countries to gain dual citizenship is Paraguay. If you have lived in the country for three years and have around 35 million PYG in your bank account, Paraguayan citizenship can be yours. Even better, during those three years of residency, you only have to live in the country for a minimum of 183 days per year.
Becoming a dual citizen in Ireland is quite easy, especially if you have Irish ancestors as you just need to apply for citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register.
In other cases, you can obtain dual citizenship by becoming an Irish citizen through naturalization. To be eligible, you need to have been a resident in Ireland for at least five years or have been married to an Irish citizen for three years.
Obtaining dual citizenship in Italy is similar to Ireland, but the rules are a bit tighter. If you have an Italian parent or grandparent, you can apply for Italian citizenship. You can also apply for citizenship if you have been married to an Italian citizen and lived in Italy for two years.
Obtaining citizenship based on residency depends on your nationality. If you are from an EU member country, you can apply for Italian citizenship after residing in Italy for four years. If you are a national of a non-EU country, you need to have resided in Italy for at least 10 years before you can apply.
Hardest countries to obtain dual citizenship
The Netherlands only allows dual citizenship in two cases: if you are married to, or the recognised partner of, a Dutch citizen (for at least 3 years), or if you are a recognised refugee.
Spain permits dual citizenship under limited circumstances: your eligibility is determined by your nationality. If you are a citizen of Andorra, Portugal, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and countries in Latin-America, you can apply for dual citizenship in Spain.
Dual citizenship in Switzerland is allowed but it is quite difficult to obtain. To gain dual citizenship you must:
- have lived in the country for 12 years
- have level B1 (spoken) in German, French, Italian or Romansch
- demonstrate you have integrated into the Swiss way of life
You can also gain dual citizenship if you have been married to a Swiss citizen for 3 years and have lived in the country for at least 5 years.