Whether you are tired of the politics in your country, want to move abroad for work, or are just looking into your heritage, getting a second citizenship is a good idea.

Having another citizenship is very en vogue, many celebrities such as actor Michael Fassbender (Ireland and Germany), Olympian Simone Biles (USA and Belize), and singer Michael Buble (Canada and Italy) have the safety net of two passports.

There are different ways to acquire another citizenship, but before you go looking into the processes and requirements, best check that your primary country allows dual citizenship for starters.

Dual citizenship: where to start

Dual citizenship means that you are a passport carrying citizen of two countries, usually through birthright or other means which will be explained later on.

In order to have dual citizenship, both of the countries must recognise the concept of multiple citizenships (many still don’t today) not only in general but with each other. Certain countries allow dual citizenship with only a select group of countries and the laws are constantly evolving.

Acquiring a second citizenship is more about the process of getting to that dual citizenship status. This can usually be done through three common ways: descent, fast track naturalisation, and citizenship by investmentprogrammes.

Benefits of a second passport

But why would anyone need a second passport? Aside from fewer limitations on visa free travel, having a second citizenship opens up a range of possibilities. Here are just a few of the benefits of having another passport:

  1. You can work in another country without having to apply for an expensive work visa or employer sponsorship out of pocket.
  2. You have relative freedom of mobility between your two countries and the countries they have agreements with.
  3. You have another nationality to fall back on if things get tough for one of them.
  4. You can have more financial options, particularly if one nationality gets pushed over for.
  5. You can pass these citizenships onto future generations (so they won’t have to go through the same process).

Citizenship through ancestry

Say for instance you’re a British citizen living in continental Europe, and are afraid of what will happen to your rights once the Brexit takes effect (not a long stretch for the imagination of many of our readers).

Being restricted to one passport, in this case a British one, will cut you off from most of the benefits of living, working, and travelling in the EU. Sure, the details of the Brexit are still unclear as to what will be restricted, but it’s better to prepare for the worst outcome.

To remedy this, one can look into getting a passport from a current EU country. The most popular option by far for Brits is an Irish passport, and many qualify through descent. In other words, if you have a parent or grandparent with an Irish passport, you can apply.

Now, this option also applies to a great deal of Americans, who for different reasons may be looking into another citizenship come November.

Countries that offer citizenship through ancestry

However Ireland isn’t the only European country that allows citizenship through descent. You should investigate further if you have lineage from any the following countries:

  • Bulgaria
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Spain

Of course, you can look further afield to countries like China, India, and New Zealand, as there are over 150 countries that offer citizenship based on one’s parents or grandparents, according to the CIA World Factbook.

If you’re not a second or third generation immigrant, gaining a second citizenship via descent is going to be a tricky process. The remaining options are fast track naturalisation or a citizenship by investment programme.

Citizenship through naturalisation

The second way to get another citizenship is by moving to another country, staying for several years, and becoming a citizen through naturalisation. Sounds easy enough, right?

There is no universal law that has a set amount of required years of residency to become naturalised: each country has its own laws to consider. Assuming you have already made the move to another country legally through a student or working holiday visa, you will just have to wait it out.

Some of the countries with the quickest routes to citizenship via naturalisation are:

Countries with fast track naturalisation

3 years:

  • Israel
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay*

4 years:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada

5 years:

  • Belgium
  • Chile
  • India
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Panama
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

*Some countries, such as Uruguay, have different requirements depending on one’s marital status.

3 years of continuous residency is required for someone married to an Uruguayan national, while an applicant who is single will have to wait 5 years.

Then, of course, there are certain restrictions and allowances depending on the relationship between your home country and the one you’re trying to get residency from. It may take longer or sometimes the wait time can be less than the stated above.

Citizenship by investment programmes

The third and final legal option is to make an incredible contribution to a country’s economic development. This is usually monetary, unless you’re Angelina Jolie, and CS Global Partners have produced a list of current citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes:

CountryFee per single applicant
Saint Lucia£153,497
Antigua and Barbuda£197,625
St Kitts and Nevis£200,664

*Fees based on exchange rate on 5 August, 2016.

If you have the funds to buy yourself a second citizenship, well, we cannot say we’re not jealous.