If you are an EEA national considering applying for British citizenship, you should consider what this means for your current citizenship.
Dual citizenship refers to the status of an individual who is recognised by two different nations as holding separate and concurrent citizenship for those two different countries.
Each country however has its own rules relating to citizenship and the circusmstances in which it recognises individuals as having nationality. So while the UK allows its citizens to hold dual nationality, other countries, including some EEA nations, do not.
The impact of naturalising as a British citizen
Ordinarily, citizenship is attained by birth, through parentage, or by ‘naturalisation’, ie qualifying under a particular country’s rules.
Applying to naturalise as a British citizen will enable you to apply for a British passport. You will be able to live and work in the UK free from immigration restriction, you can access the NHS and you will gain the right to vote. It’s important however to understand if your change in status in the UK will impact your current citizenship.
For example, if your home country allows dual citizenship with the UK, there should be no impact on your original citizenship and you will be able to hold a passport from both countries. This can provide benefits where you are travelling frequently in and out of each country, perhaps for work or to visit relatives.
In other circumstances however, attaining British citizenship may result in automatic loss of your previous citizenship or refusal by the other government to recognise your British citizenship. You may also need to notify your country of original citizenship of your intention to naturalise.
Take advice on your circmstances and to clarify if the rules of your country of citizenship permit dual nationality with the UK, or if attaining British citizenship forces you to give up your original citizenship.
EU citizens – does permanent residence impact nationality?
For European nationals applying for and holding UK permanent residence, this status will not affect your nationality. You will remain a citizen of your home country and retain the passport of your home country. You are free to hold UK permanent residency without any necessity or requirement to proceed to apply for UK naturalisation.
Permanent residency is however a mandatory prerequisite for EU citizens who do wish to naturalise as British citizens.
Since the Brexit referendum, applications for British citizenship by EU citizens have soared, as eligible individuals seek to secure their status in the UK on an indefinite basis. Many are also concerned that the current rules may change following Brexit, and that EU countries may well decide to remove the option for their citizens to hold dual nationality with the UK.
Countries which allow dual citizenship with the UK
A key consideration when looking at naturalising as a British citizen will be the rules of your country of current citizenship.
Some countries allow dual citizenship with the UK without restriction, whereas others permit this where certain conditions are met.
Under the local laws of some countries, dual citizenship is not allowed at all, so should you proceed with your UK naturalisation application, you would be giving up your current citizenship at the point of attaining British citizenship.
The rules in this area are complicated and subject to change, so it is best to take advice on your circumstances to understand the position at the time of making your application.
EEA countries which allow dual citizenship with the UK
- Czech Republic
Austria, Slovakia and the Netherlands generally only allow dual citizenship to those who acquire a second nationality by birth, but not by naturalisation.
EEA countries which do not permit dual citizenship with the UK:
Applying for British citizenship
To make an application for British citizenship, the main steps are as follows:
- Are you eligible? You will need to be certain you meet all of the eligibility criteria, such as holding permanent residence for 12 months (unless married to a UK resident).
- Complete the relevant citizenship application form and submit required supporting documentation.
- Pay the relevant fee(s).
- Submit your biometric data.
- Attend an interview if requested.
- Pass the Life in the UK test and/or English language test where required.
If your British citizenship application is approved
If you are successful, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony to formalise your change of status. Retain your certificate for future needs
You can then apply for a British passport, if you did not make a concurrent application to naturalisation.
Is multiple citizenship with the UK allowed?
Multiple citizenship, such as triple citizenship, is possible with the UK. Since there is no requirement under UK law to renounce or give up previous citizenship or nationality, it is possible to apply for UK naturalisation where you already hold multiple citizenships. You will of course need to check the rules of the other countries in question as this may well introduce a limit on the number of citizenships any one individual can hold.
Giving up British citizenship
If you already hold British citizenship and want to attain citizenship of a country which does not permit dual citizenship with the UK, you may look at renouncing, or giving up, your UK citizenship. This is a formal, legal process and the implications (legal, immigration, taxation etc) should be fully considered.
Question about dual citizenship with the UK? DavidsonMorris can help!
Citizenship is a hugely complex area of law, and with so much at stake it’s important to understand the full implications of assuming a nationality. Issues with Home Office applications can cause delays and potentially lead to a refusal and lost application fee.
Whether you are considering applying for UK citizenship or looking to understand if you or a loved one such as a child already hold British citizenship through birth and are eligible to apply for a British passport, take professional advice on your circumstances.
DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration solicitors. We help individuals with all aspects of the UK citizenship and settlement applications, from guidance on eligibility to support with compiling a comprehensive submission. For advice or queries about UK citizenship, contact us.
All countries which allow dual citizenship with the UK:
Some countries may require certain conditions to be met
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- South Africa
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
All countries which do not ordinarily allow dual citizenship with the UK:
- Czech Republic
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)