While there has been lots of interest in Colin Firth’s recent Italian citizenship and Ralph Fiennes being granted Serbian citizenship, having more than one passport is more common than you think. As well as their US citizenships, Angelina Jolie is Cambodian, Ricky Martin is Spanish, Olivia Wilde is Irish, Natalie Portman is Israeli and Kirsten Dunst is German. Of UK passport holders, Kim Catrell is also Canadian, Alan Cummings is also American and Danial Day-Lewis is also Irish.
So, is this trend just for celebrities? “Definitely not,” says Alison Johnson, the co-founder of wherecani.live. “It is an option for many people and it comes with huge benefits. A second passport opens doors for travel, education, relocation, career, business and financial investment and is great to have when you need it. Obtaining a second passport for your children is a profound gift that could well change their lives and with our present global uncertainty having a second passport is a great insurance policy for you and your family.”
With the United Kingdom’s history of immigration from around the globe many UK passport holders are eligible for citizenship for a range of countries, the vast majority of which allow you to retain your UK citizenship.
Ms Johnson is an example of this. “I have been fortunate to live in many parts of the world and now reside near Barcelona, Spain with my family. We rely on my United Kingdom (UK) citizenship to be able to stay here. Once Britain is no longer part of the European Union (EU), nobody really knows whether UK citizens will be able to easily live in the EU. Luckily after a conversation on a train with a friend, I learned I was eligible for an Irish passport through my grandmother. What a relief! I then realised that there wasn’t one single website that could help you quickly understand your eligibility to a passport or residency based on official, current, and accurate information and www.wherecani.live was born!”
While Angelina Jolie, Steven Segal and Ralph Fiennes were granted their second citizenships as a mark of respect from the nations involved, most people will follow one of three paths. The first is through family ties, either from ancestry (your parents, grandparents or even great grandparents) or through partnerships, including marriage. The second is through residency, where having lived in a country for work, study or retirement you qualify for citizenship after a prescribed time. The third is through investment into your prospective countries economy. These citizenship through investment schemes are widespread and the amounts needed, and how they can be invested vary widely.
Estimates of how many UK citizens qualify for a second passport vary widely. In an article for the BBC Simon Maybin estimated that as many as 6.7 million Brits could be eligible for an Irish passport.* With 2.1 million residents born outside Britain in 1951 rising to 7.9 million in 2011 ** there are a vast number of second and third generation UK citizens who could qualify for second passports from countries within the European Union, ex-U.K. colonies and other countries from around the globe. The cumulative total could well reach 50% of the current UK population.
Some options that may be open to you that you may not know about include:
As Colin Firth just demonstrated, Italy is one of the few countries that give you a passport through matrimony even if you have never lived in Italy. If you live abroad you can apply after being married for three years. The timeframes are reduced by half in the presence of children born or adopted by you and your spouse. http://www.esteri.it/mae/en/italiani_nel_mondo/serviziconsolari/cittadinanza.html
If you have Italian ancestry you may be able to get Italian citizenship without limitation of generation if none of your ancestors in the Italian lineage has ever renounced their citizenship. http://www.esteri.it/mae/en/italiani_nel_mondo/serviziconsolari/cittadinanza.html
If a parent, grandparent or even, in some cases, great-grandparent was born in Ireland you may be eligible for citizenship and a passport.
If one of your ancestors was forced to leave Germany under the Nazis (this mainly includes German Jews and members of the Communist or Social Democratic Parties) you may be eligible to claim German citizenship.
Spain and Portugal
Sephardic ancestry law was introduced in 2015. This opens the doors for thousands of people across the globe to obtain Spanish or Portuguese nationality if they can prove they are descendants of the Jewish community expelled from those countries in 1492. https://elpais.com/elpais/2014/02/11/inenglish/1392148804_560991.html
Investment and income visas
There are many countries around the world who offer a variety of residency options and paths to citizenship directly linked to your ability to invest into the local economy, whether that be through buying a home, starting a business, buying government bonds or in some cases just having your pension paid into that country. You may think that it is only the wealthy that have this option open to them but residency visas start for as low as proving an annual income of USD$9,000!
For more information please contact:
Alison Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wherecani.live
Photograph: Wherecani.live co-founder, Alison Johnson