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The benefits of having a second passport

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Have you ever thought of applying for a second passport? Since June 2016, when Britain voted to leave the EU, there has been an unprecedented surge in such applications. Some 300,000 Britons have applied for second passports from several European countries – most of them from Ireland – reported a story in the Sunday Times last year.

To be clear. A second passport here means a passport issued by a foreign country. Formal procedures exist for British passport holders who want a second British passport. A second passport – officially called a concurrent passport – is typically needed by business people who have to travel between countries which do not allow entry if the other’s stamp is in the passport. These are called “incompatible countries”.

Here we are discussing second passports granted based on dual citizenship – or even multiple citizenships – where you are legally recognised as the citizen of two or more countries at the same time.

What are the benefits of a second passport?

The following are some of the reasons given by people applying for dual citizenship:

• it allows freedom from travel and visa controls imposed by either of the two countries – post-Brexit, therefore, British citizens with a second European passport expect to continue to enjoy the freedom of movement and employment held while Britain was also a member of the EU;

• for related reasons, travel may be visa-free if you hold a second passport;

• some applicants may feel a greater sense of security if they know they have a second country to which to turn if conditions in their original place of citizenship become unstable or undesirable;

• there might be more business opportunities for a dual citizen who can do business in both home and host countries;

• there may be tax advantages – some countries only tax income earned in that country or do not tax capital gains, for example;

• some applicants may consider that a better quality of life – in terms of lifestyle, healthcare, or education is accessible through dual citizenship.

How easy is it to get a second passport?

Many countries allow dual citizenship. The World Population Review lists at least 60 countries which recognise and permit dual citizenship – and, with it, the right to hold more than one passport. Eligibility varies from one country to another, but some of the most common factors involve family or other historical connections with the country concerned.

However, not all countries allow their citizens to hold more than one passport. If you already hold a British passport, for example, some countries would prevent your holding one of their passports – unless you renounced your British passport and sought to become a citizen of the country concerned.

Even where dual citizenship is allowed, you may want to check carefully what obligations might be entailed along with the rights of citizenship that first attracted you. In some countries, for example, someone with dual citizenship is prohibited from serving in the military or from holding public office. In other cases, it can entail quite the opposite.

A story in the Sunday Times last year, for instance, revealed that the Austrian authorities had written to dual citizenship holders to remind them that in Austria all men between the ages of 17 and 50 may be called up for military service – and that included men with dual citizenship.

Having a second passport may bring benefits – but the process of obtaining one can be challenging. Plus, you do need to make sure you understand what you having dual citizenship in a particular country may entail.

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