May 28, 2024

Choosing the Country of Your Second Citizenship: Key Criteria to Consider

There are 256 countries and territories in the world and around a hundred of them have nothing against dual citizenship. They are prepared to issue passports to foreigners. Such a variety of options can easily confuse you. What country should you choose as your second home country? This depends on your primary objectives, your budget, and the amount of time you are prepared to spend on acquiring second citizenship.

People who hold dual citizenship are called bipatrides and probably the most important advantage that they have is enhanced freedom of movement. There are other advantages that dual citizenship brings too. Please note that it is possible to have more than 2 passports: you can have triple citizenship, quadruple citizenship, etc.

Country to obtain citizenship

When choosing the country of your second citizenship, you should pay heed to the following main aspects:

  • The potential of the country. You have to assess the geographical location of the prospective country (availability of transportation networks, proximity to the points of interest, etc.), the level of its economic stability, the growth and development prospects, the cost of living, the level of security, and the general political stability.
  • Administrative aspects. How hard is it to get a passport of the country under consideration? Can you keep your present passport? How difficult would it be to integrate with the local community? Can you acquire second passports for your family members?
  • New opportunities that second citizenship would bring. You have to find out about the number of visa-free destinations that your second passport would give you, about the new immigration routes that would become available to you, about protection against extradition, about access to new financial instruments as well as medical and educational services.
  • New obligations that second citizenship would bring. Would you have to join the army? Would you be able to elect and be elected? Would you have to pay taxes in your second home country? These are important questions indeed.

Let us consider each group of aspects one by one.

The country’s potential

You are not looking to obtain second citizenship just for fun: you want to gain some advantages. Clearly, each country would give you a different list of advantages.

The country’s location

If your business operations involve traveling often, you should assess the proximity of your second home country to the places that you normally visit. You should also be able to use convenient means of transportation. Find out about the airports in the vicinity, autobahns, railway stations, and so on. If you are planning to visit your home country often (or ‘live between two countries’), it would be nice if the two countries were located not too far from each other.  

Why are EU passports so popular? Because they give visa-free access to the main tourist destinations in Europe, Great Britain, and the USA.

The state of the local economy

You should assess the economic indicators of the prospective country of your second citizenship: 

  • Level of inflation and unemployment;
  • GDP;
  • Monetary and fiscal policies;
  • Investment policies;
  • Social indicators.

You could also assess the trade balance of the country (the difference between its imports and exports). This would show how competitive the country is in the international arena.

Please find out why a foreign bank can deny services to you.

Prospects for young people

This aspect is important if you have children. What prospects would they have in their new home country? You have to assess the educational opportunities and jobs available in the country.

Social stability

You don’t want to end up in a country with frequent instances of social unrest, protests, and riots, do you? You want to become a citizen of a country where the social situation is stable. You may have heard references to Uruguay as ‘South American Switzerland’. This nickname is attributable to the high level of social stability in Uruguay. Other countries where the social situation has been fine for years include Portugal, Poland, and Cyprus.

Cost and standards of living

Your second home country should be comfortable for living. Thus, you have to assess the following important aspects:

  • Economic stability;
  • Level of personal security;
  • Quality of educational services;
  • Access to healthcare services;
  • Cost of living.

In general terms, you have to find out how comfortable living in the prospective country would be and how much would it cost.

Administrative aspects

The administrative component of the process of second citizenship acquisition and the integration opportunities are also important to consider. How demanding is the process of applying for a second passport? How simple (or difficult) is your integration with the local community going to be?

Conditions for acquiring second citizenship

If you would like to acquire second citizenship in a fast and simple manner and at a low cost, you are going to have a difficult time looking for such an opportunity. If it’s fast and simple, it’s expensive. If it’s inexpensive, it takes a long time or the conditions are strict.

Below we list the main immigration routes and briefly discuss their pluses and minuses.

  • Naturalization. The main drawback of this option is that it takes a long time. Depending on the country, you have to live there from 3 to 30 years to become a naturalized citizen. Moreover, you have to permanently live there, which means that you have to sustain yourself while living in a foreign country. Because you would be a permanent resident of the country, you would also become its tax resident, which means that you would have to pay taxes in the country.
  • Investment. Several countries administer citizenship-by-investment programs. This is a fast way of acquiring second citizenship but it’s expensive. The shortest application processing period is 6 weeks (in Vanuatu). The lowest price of a second passport is found in the Caribbean and it is US$ 100,000 (in Dominica, St Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda). However, the price is going to rise to US$ 200,000 very soon. You may also consider applying for citizenship of Egypt or Turkey by investment.
  • Marriage to a foreign person. If you marry a foreigner, you can become a citizen of his/ her home country in an accelerated manner. However, you have to fall in love with a foreigner first, which is outside the scope of your control. And you can receive criminal penalties for a fake marriage.  
  • Repatriation. If some of your ancestors come from a foreign country, you might be able to acquire the country’s citizenship. However, proving your ancestors’ origin may be hard and a lot of bureaucracy is going to be involved in the process anyway.
  • Military services. You can provide military services to a foreign country, which will accelerate its citizenship acquisition. We don’t have to say that it’s a dangerous route to second citizenship.
  • Right of land. Some countries such as Argentina, the USA, and Canada, for example, grant citizenship to anyone born on their soil. This accelerates citizenship acquisition for the child’s parents. However, some of these countries disallow dual citizenship and this means that the child will have to choose which citizenship he/ she wants to preserve when coming of age.  
  • Special services. You can become a citizen of a foreign country if you provide some special services to it. This opportunity is usually available to outstanding artists, sportspeople, and scientists.

Integration with the local community

If you are planning to relocate to your second home country, you have to find out how easy it is going to be to integrate with the local community. Is the language of the country hard to learn? How do locals treat foreigners? Israelis, for instance, are not welcome in many countries in the Middle East. 

Confidentiality of second citizenship acquisition

In China, second citizenship is disallowed, but a large number of Chinese people have been acquiring foreign citizenship by investment anyway. How is that possible? The matter is that most of the host countries do not publish lists of new citizens. Confidentiality of second citizenship acquisition is an important aspect if you come from a country where dual citizenship is prohibited. Most countries administering citizenship-by-investment programs keep the information confidential with the exception of Malta and Dominica.   

Opportunities for preserving second citizenship

You may have to meet certain conditions to preserve your second citizenship after you have acquired it. For example, some countries require that you spend a certain amount of time on their territories every year to keep the passport. 

If you have acquired second citizenship by investment into real property (which is possible), you have to keep the property in your possession for 3 to 5 years to keep the passport. You have to find out what conditions you would have to meet in order to remain a citizen of a foreign country.

Citizenship for your family members

All countries administering citizenship-by-investment programs allow including your family members in the application for citizenship. These include your spouse and your underage children in all cases. The list of family members can be enlarged in some cases: there are countries that allow acquiring citizenship for your adult children, your dependent parents, and even your siblings. The essential requirement is that the relatives have to be financially dependent on the main applicant for foreign citizenship.

If you have acquired foreign citizenship by naturalization, your family members can join you in the foreign country. All countries offer family reunification opportunities.

Besides, you have to find out in advance if your newborn children would be born citizens of the foreign country whose passport you hold. Not all immigration routes provide this opportunity.

New opportunities that second citizenship brings

Acquiring second citizenship widens your horizons and this is exactly why you should give the issue of applying for a second passport serious consideration.

Freedom of movement enhancement

The holder of a Maltese passport, for example, has the right to live and work in any EU country because Malta is a member of the Union. The holder of a Turkish or a Grenadian passport is entitled to apply for an E2 visa to the USA.

Thus, your second passport can extend your geography greatly. If you acquire citizenship of a Caribbean country by investment, you can live and work in any Caribbean country that is a CARICOM member (and almost all countries in the region are members of this organization). 

Opportunity to conceal your original citizenship

The world is far from perfect and citizens of some countries are not welcome in some other countries. Your home country’s passport may turn out toxic if you find yourself at a certain place.

Israelis face trouble when traveling in the Middle East, as we have noted above. U.S. citizens face trouble when trying to open bank accounts in some European countries. Why do European banks turn Americans down? Because the FATCA makes the banks report the financial matters of their American clients to the IRS. For them, it means extra work for no extra pay.

If you hold two or more passports at a time, you can choose which one to use in a particular country or for a particular purpose.

Second passport as a plan B

If a military conflict breaks out in your home country or if a serious economic crisis occurs, you will feel much safer if you have a second passport. If things go badly wrong in the country of your birth, you have another home country where you can relocate.

This makes choosing a stable country for your second citizenship an especially important task. Some people ‘buy’ second passports to enhance their freedom of movement exclusively: they just travel around the world without visas with their second passports and they don’t plan to ever visit their second home country. We suggest, however, that you should keep in mind the opportunity to relocate to the foreign country whose citizenship you are about to acquire. Just in case.

Investment opportunities and financial instruments

A second passport of a reputable country would allow you to open bank accounts anywhere in the world. In addition, second citizenship would extend your business horizons because you could register a company in a foreign country. Besides, there are regional organizations such as the EU, MERCOSUR, and CARICOM and citizenship of one of the member state would give you access to business instruments available in other member states.  

Education and healthcare

Western countries traditionally offer high levels of educational and healthcare services. This is an important reason why western county’s passports are sought after.

When choosing a second home country, you should pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Reputation of the country’s healthcare system;
  • Quality of the medical infrastructure;
  • Quality and accessibility of educational services;
  • Language learning opportunities;
  • Diversity of educational programs.

The level of healthcare services is especially relevant if you are planning to relocate to a foreign country with your elderly parents.

New obligations associated with second citizenship

You should not forget that together with advantages come additional obligations when you acquire citizenship of a foreign country. This fact will have a bearing on your choice.

Voting obligations

There are countries where taking part in national and municipal elections is mandatory. If you fail to turn up at the voting booth, you may be fined. The countries include Australia, Mexico, the states of South America and Central Africa, Turkey, and several countries in the Middle East.

In Turkey, the fine for ignoring elections is 300 liras. In some instances, Turkish citizens who refuse to vote are denied access to state services.

Fiscal obligations

Citizens of the USA have to pay taxes wherever they live at the current moment. The same requirements apply to citizens of Eritrea. Some experts believe that European countries may borrow this fiscal practice in the near future. If tax planning is among your top priorities, you should delve into the issue deeply.

You might increase your tax burden if you make the wrong choice of the country of your second citizenship. On the other hand, you can decrease it if you act wisely. For example, you will have to pay nothing in taxes from foreign sources if you acquire citizenship of Vanuatu, St Kitts and Nevis, or Antigua and Barbuda.

Military service

South Korea and Israel practice conscription – military services are obligatory for all citizens of the countries. We suppose this is not what you want for your children so please make sure that they won’t have to join the army if your family acquire citizenship of a foreign country. 


You have to take several aspects of different nature into consideration when choosing the country of your second citizenship. The right choice will bring you weighty benefits while the wrong choice may make you regret your decision. Our experts will be delighted to consult you on the best options if acquiring second citizenship is on your mind. Please do not hesitate to contact us.