Dual Citizenship: Does Acquiring a New Nationality Result in Loss of the Original?

9 de May, 2024

Dual Citizenship: Does Acquiring a New Nationality Result in Loss of the Original?

The advantages of dual citizenship are numerous: security, business, mobility, freedom, culture, lifestyle, identity, and much more.
Reading: 8 min

We live in an increasingly globalized world, which makes the issue of citizenship ever more complex and multifaceted. For many, the idea of holding dual citizenship raises a series of questions and concerns. This article aims to shed light on this topic. In the following paragraphs, we will examine the meaning of dual citizenship, the legal policies involved in different countries, challenges, and practical considerations for those seeking to obtain multiple nationality.

If you have ever wondered about the implications of having two nationalities, or if you are considering the process of obtaining citizenship in a new country while retaining your original one, this article will provide valuable insights to help you navigate this complex legal and cultural landscape. Does acquiring a new nationality cause loss of the original one? Find out here!

What does having dual nationality mean?

Having dual citizenship (or dual nationality) means that a person is considered a citizen of two countries simultaneously. This allows you to enjoy the rights and responsibilities of both countries.

How is it possible to obtain a new nationality?

We have comprehensive articles on our website about ways to obtain Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian nationality. In summary, it is possible to become a citizen in a new country through the following means:

  • Being born in the country (when it adopts the jus solis criterion);
  • Having parents or grandparents of the desired nationality (jus sanguinis criterion);
  • Legally residing in the country: some countries grant citizenship to foreigners who have resided in the country for a certain period of time, usually along with other requirements such as learning the language and passing a citizenship test;
  • Marrying a citizen of the country (if applicable);
  • Citizenship granted through a tribute made by the local government (for example, a letter of nature, from Spain).

Explore different avenues for obtaining Portuguese citizenship.

Man in suit points to citizenship

Multiple Citizenship: Increasingly Common

In today’s world, the concepts of home, identity, and citizenship are becoming increasingly complex. A new type of global citizen, the “multi-local” one, emerges, who holds two or more passports and personal ties to various countries. The importance and necessity of having more than one citizenship or residency have become much clearer.

The trend began after World War II when more than 60 million people were displaced to new countries. Since then, it has become much more common for some people to be born in one country and die in another. The desire for security is what still drives dual and multiple citizenship today.

The wave of multi-local citizens has grown alongside greater tolerance from governments worldwide. In 1960, only one-third of countries allowed dual citizenship. By 2019, it was 75%, as shown by a study from Maastricht University. With more people living in various places throughout their lives, more intercultural marriages have also contributed to the trend. A new generation of global citizens with multi-local identities is born.

According to a study conducted by the World Population Review, 68 out of 87 surveyed countries allow their citizens to hold more than one nationality.

How many nationalities can a person have?

Each country has its own laws on the subject.

What is the difference between citizenship and nationality?

The concept of citizenship is closely intertwined with that of nationality. Therefore, the difference between them can be subtle, varying depending on the legal and cultural context of each country. However, generally speaking, we can understand the terms as follows:

Nationality: a legal bond that connects a person to a specific state. This bond is acquired mainly by birth within a territory (jus soli) or through descent (jus sanguinis), but it can also be obtained through naturalization. Nationality defines a person’s belonging to a country, granting them basic rights and duties such as the right to vote and the obligation to pay taxes.

Citizenship: it is more related to the political and social rights that an individual has within a society. Although often used interchangeably with nationality, the term citizenship emphasizes the active participation of the individual in the community and government, such as the right to vote, to run for public office, and to participate in political decisions.

In summary, while nationality is a legal status that connects a person to a state, citizenship is more about exercising rights and responsibilities within that state.

Does obtaining dual citizenship cause loss of the original citizenship?

It will largely depend on your original nationality and the one you wish to obtain, as the policy regarding the maintenance or renunciation of the original citizenship can vary significantly from country to country. Some countries allow dual citizenship, while others may require you to renounce your original citizenship when obtaining another country’s citizenship. Additionally, there are countries that grant citizenship by birth (jus sanguinis) but deny it through naturalization.

Even in countries where dual citizenship is allowed, there may be some restrictions. For example, a person with dual citizenship may not be able to serve in the armed forces or hold public office in both countries. Some nations allow dual citizenship under specific conditions.

Source: World Population Review

Countries that prohibit dual citizenship

The study by the World Population Review lists the following countries that doesn´t allow dual nationality:

  • India
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • Tanzania
  • Poland
  • Ukraine
  • Malaysia
  • Netherlands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Austria
  • Singapore
  • Lithuania
  • Bahrain
  • Estonia
  • Djibouti
  • Montenegro

Americans and the Right to Dual Citizenship

America was built by immigrants from around the world. The vast majority came from Europe. Therefore, many Americans have European ancestry. It’s a matter of mapping out the origins of your ancestors and figuring out how to take advantage of it. It’s important to obtain a series of documents: birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce certificates, US naturalization documents (in the case of Americans).

The task can be daunting, especially when it comes to ancestors who lived a century ago in a place you’re not sure about. In these cases, it’s important to rely on the help of a genealogy specialist to trace your family tree and locate the necessary documents for applying for a new nationality.

Atlantic Bridge offers a document search service in Portugal and Spain, see our articles on the subject.

Obtaining a new nationality and maintaining American citizenship

A very common question: does American law allow dual citizenship?

Although the government in the United States does not explicitly prohibit dual citizenship, it also does not encourage it. That means it is possible to maintain your nationality, but it is important to note that some other countries may restrict or even prohibit their citizens from having dual citizenship. Therefore, if you are considering obtaining American citizenship, it is important to check the laws of your other country to see if there are any restrictions.

Also, keep in mind that dual citizenship may have tax, legal, and travel implications.

Portuguese and Spanish Citizenship for Americans

Portugal and Spain have become very popular among Americans wishing to move to Europe. Both countries offer citizenship by ancestry up to the third generation (up to grandchildren).

Citizenship in these countries is also possible for spouses of nationals and legal residents.

In all cases, it will be necessary to prove connection to the community and knowledge of the local language.

Learn about language requirements for Spanish and Portuguese citizenship.

Portugal Dual Citizenship for US Citizens: Possible?

The US law stipulates that an American citizen may potentially lose their US nationality if they acquire citizenship through naturalization in another country after the age of 18, provided there is evidence of the individual’s intent to renounce US nationality.

Therefore, in the scenario where an individual obtains Portuguese citizenship through naturalization (based on residency), theoretically, they could lose their US nationality. However, this isn’t typically the case because it must be proven that the individual intended to renounce their US nationality. If they maintain ties with the US (such as through travel, tax payments, etc.), they demonstrate that they did not have such intent.

Does Spanish citizenship invalidate American citizenship?

The United States and Spain do not have a dual nationality agreement; therefore, an American who chooses Spanish nationality must do so by renouncing their previous nationality.

However, in the case of obtaining Spanish citizenship through the Law of Democratic Memory, even Americans do not need to renounce their original citizenship.

What are the advantages of having dual or multiple citizenship?

The advantages of multiple citizenship are numerous: security, business, mobility, freedom, culture, lifestyle, identity, and much more:

Having passports from both countries, facilitating travel between them and to other countries;
Living and working in any of the countries without needing a visa or work permit, with the possibility of migrating to another country in case of conflicts, wars, or dissatisfaction in the home country;
Accessing public services: health, education, and social security in another country.

READ: Portuguese Passport Ranked one of the Most Powerful in the World

Which passport to use when traveling?

If you have dual nationality and hold passports from more than one country, it is recommended to use the passport of the country you are in at the moment.

Example: a Brazilian with a Portuguese European passport should leave Brazil with the Brazilian passport and enter Europe with the European Portuguese passport.

European Citizenship: An Object of Desire

For many years, American citizenship and an American passport were the objects of desire worldwide. The pandemic and the current American political scenario have changed that. The result was an increase in demand from Americans seeking a second passport and wanting to obtain citizenship – especially in Europe.

The desire to retire in countries like Portugal or Spain and greater flexibility in banking were the main drivers of second passports even before the pandemic began. The political instability and potential tax increases that followed the pandemic have left many wealthy Americans considering the idea of acquiring a new citizenship. And thanks to their diverse ethnic background, resulting from historical periods of massive immigration, many Americans are eligible for European nationalities by ancestry.

READ ALSO: Spain has the Best in the World

Moving to Europe Without European Ancestry

Even for those who cannot prove European ancestry, there are still alternatives.

Portugal offers many paths to obtain citizenship, one of which is naturalization, which can be requested after 5 years of local residence. Another option is the Golden Visa, a residency program for those making qualified investments in the country.

Similarly, Spain also offers a relatively easy process for expatriates, with a variety of visa options available. Read here about living in Spain.

Speak with Atlantic Bridge consultants and achieve your dual citizenship!



Atlantic Bridge

You may also like:

Accommodation without bureaucracy in Portugal: meet Uniplaces

Uniplaces is an online platform for finding accommodation in Portugal without bureaucracy, as it does not require guarantors and proof of income.


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 5 min

30 de August, 2022

Portuguese Food: 7 Dishes You Must Try

Our selection: the best of Portuguese food. Tripas a Moda do Porto, Francesinha, Alheira, Bacalhau a Bras, Sardines, Caldo Verde...


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 8 min

29 de November, 2023

Main changes to the Golden Visa Programme in Portugal


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 4 min

17 de February, 2021

Christmas in Portugal: A Complete Guide to Festive Celebrations

Did you know that Portuguese tradition includes not tidying up the table after the Christmas Eve dinner? And that they use natural pine trees at home? Discover what Christmas is like in Portugal.


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 6 min

21 de December, 2022

Want to do your Medical Specialty in Portugal? Learn How


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 7 min

6 de May, 2022

Lisbon x San Francisco x New York: Comparison of Living Costs

We have chosen two major American cities to compare the cost of living with Lisbon: San Francisco, CA and New York, NY.


Atlantic Bridge

Reading: 8 min

8 de February, 2022