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Dual Citizenship and Second Citizenship: What’s the Difference?

Henley & Partners

Publishing date 10.1.2024
Reading time 7 minutes

Curious about the ins and outs of multiple citizenships? Then read on for a practical exploration into the world of holding two or more passports. We'll explain the difference between dual citizenship and second citizenship, weigh the pros and cons of each, and discuss how and where best to apply for an additional passport. We’ll also give you the heads-up on bogus citizenship programs and agents.

Citizenship versus nationality

Let’s start with the basics. Your nationality is a broad term that refers, in general, to where you or your parents were born, or to your cultural affiliation with a nation. Citizenship is defined as the legal relationship between an individual and their state of citizenship. For instance, you can be a citizen of Germany but not necessarily a German national. If you are American Samoan, then the US government recognizes you as a US national but not as a citizen.

Dual citizenship versus second citizenship

Are you one of the lucky people who traverses the globe with two or more passports, signifying dual citizenship or second citizenship status? For those outside of this golden circle, both terms sound interchangeable, but there are specific and important differences that you should be aware of.

What is dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship, or dual nationality, means you are a citizen of two countries at the same time. Importantly, and in stark contrast to second citizenship, both countries where you hold citizenship legally recognize your rights as a citizen of each nation. Bilateral agreements cover those rights.

Take Sarah, for example. Born in Australia, Sarah was able to get Italian citizenship by ancestry. After university, she travelled to Milan to help out in her family’s business and completed an MBA in Rome before returning to Melbourne. Australia and Italy both recognize her bipatride status, so Sarah is able to freely enjoy educational and business pursuits in each country.

For those without ancestral ties in other countries, as Sarah has, you can acquire citizenship by investment. Many fascinating countries in Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Asia welcome new citizens and recognize dual citizenship status.

What is second citizenship?

With second citizenship, you possess a second or even multiple passports besides your passport of origin. In the case of second citizenship, however, your country of primary citizenship and the country of second citizenship don’t have bilateral agreements in place that recognize your rights as a citizen of both nations. Whichever one you choose to make your primary residence, authorities there will consider you their citizen — exclusively.

How do you qualify for dual citizenship?

It all depends on what citizenship you are applying for and what agreements are in place between your first and second country, but broadly speaking, some of the requirements for dual citizenship include:

Citizenship by ancestry: Just like Sarah, in this case, your parents (or grandparents) were born in the country where you seek additional citizenship.

Citizenship by marriage: You are married to a national of the country where you seek citizenship.

Citizenship by investment: You make a financial contribution or investment. Take Antigua and Barbuda as an example. You can become a citizen there by purchasing real estate or donating to the government. 

What advantages do you enjoy as a dual citizen?

Mobility: As a dual citizen, you can travel widely. With dual New Zealand and Austrian citizenship, for instance, you can work and reside in New Zealand and Austria, as well as in the rest of the EU, Switzerland, and Australia.  

Political, education, and healthcare rights: As a dual citizen, you enjoy the rights and benefits of both countries, like voting, social services, education, and healthcare. However, there could be some limitations and you might only be entitled to benefits in the country you reside in.

Consular assistance: If you run into a situation while travelling outside of your countries of citizenship, as a dual citizen, you can approach the embassies or consulates of either or both countries for help.

What disadvantages do you have as a dual citizen?

Depending on your citizenships, you may have to balance legal, tax, or military obligations. If either of your countries of citizenship enforces conscription, relocating and residing in the second country could help you circumvent those obligations.

What are the advantages of second citizenship?

Obtaining second citizenship turns you into a global citizen, opening doors to opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Advantages of second citizenship


Visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to an increased number of destinations worldwide


Asset diversification — enhancing protection of your finances and reducing risk


Expansion of your business and new networking and growth opportunities


Access to a rich diversity of schools and universities, and the opportunity for your children to bond with other global citizens


Optimization of tax status through favorable conditions in different countries

Personal security

Enhanced safety for you and your family in a politically stable country


Diverse cultural, language, and climate benefits

Extendable citizenship

Second citizenship for your spouse, children, or parents

Dual citizenship

Bilateral recognition of your citizenships

What are the disadvantages of second citizenship?

Depending on certain circumstances, disadvantages include potential revocation of your first passport, limited political rights in your second country, or tax liabilities. However, as every situation is unique, we suggest you reach out to a Henley & Partners? office near you for a no-obligation discussion on dual citizenship, second citizenship, and citizenship by investment. An expert at your local office will analyze your status to find the best way forward, so that you avoid pitfalls and get the biggest possible benefits for you and your family.

Easy second citizenship destinations to apply to

Securing second citizenship is never a stroll in the park, but with experts by your side, the journey is certainly smoother and shorter. There are a number of countries where you can get citizenship within a few months in return for an attractive investment sum.

Citizenship by investment: Processing time and minimum investment by region


Processing time

Minimum investment


Three–four months

USD 100,000–USD 150,000

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Grenada offer citizenship by investment within three to four months with an investment of USD 100,00 to USD 150,000.


Around five months

USD 200,000

Citizenship of North Macedonia is yours after around five months and with an investment of USD 200,000.


Nine–twelve months

USD 250,000

Meet the requirements of the Egypt Citizenship by Investment Program to obtain Egyptian citizenship and eligibility for an E-2 Investor Visa in the USA, allowing you to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and many other destinations offer citizenship by investment programs and also allow dual citizenship.

How do you go about getting second citizenship?

If citizenship by investment sounds like your best approach for acquiring second citizenship, then talk to a qualified provider of this service. Reputable companies should be able to offer you:

  • Transparent information on the citizenship process including fees, timelines, and challenges
  • Legally compliant processes that adhere to the requirements and regulations of all countries involved 
  • Confidential handling of sensitive and private information

Henley & Partners has been operating in the field of residence and citizenship by investment for over 25 years, is globally active in over 45 offices, and is a trusted partner of governments around the world.

Illegal citizenship programs and unqualified agents

When taking steps to get second citizenship, it’s essential that your journey aligns seamlessly with the laws and regulations of the issuing country. Even with countries that offer legal citizenship programs, exercising caution is paramount. The landscape is crowded with firms eager to assist, but not all parties adhere to best practices.

Choose wisely when navigating your path, prioritize legality, and ensure your second or dual citizenship is obtained through clear, official channels with expert partners you can trust.

Dual citizenship is when you are acknowledged as a citizen by two countries, legally permitting you access to the rights and benefits of both states.

Holding a second or multiple citizenships is the concept of second citizenship. Unlike dual citizenship, with second citizenship, your primary country may not legally recognize you as a citizen of the second country and vice versa.

Yes. With dual citizenship, your rights as a citizen are bilaterally recognized by both of your countries of citizenship. With second citizenship, your countries of citizenship do not legally recognize you as a citizen of a second country.

Citizenship by investment is a popular avenue for acquiring second citizenship when ancestry-based applications are not possible. Citizenship by investment involves making a financial contribution in your country of choice — through a government donation, to a business or other economic initiative, or by purchasing real estate.

Possessing two or multiple passports offers numerous advantages. It allows for flexible visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to many destinations, a range of residence options, opportunities for tax optimization, and access to educational, health, and social offerings in different countries.

Albania, Finland, and the USA are just some of the countries that allow dual citizenship. Here is a list of some countries that currently recognize this status.

For the latest information, please visit the relevant program pages on

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