I am fortunate to hold dual citizenship on two different continents. However, until now, I’ve never really looked into the benefits this offers me. Frankly, I never gave it much thought because I never had to. After becoming location independent, I started wondering if I should be capitalizing on the advantages of travelling with two different passports. Curious to see how the passport advantage works for others, I asked other bloggers to share their experiences.
Having dual or even multiple nationalities and passports can definitely provide you with an edge when you travel. It also can dictate where you can live and work. I’ve asked others to share their stories mostly because I was curious about their experience. I was also looking for guidance on how to benefit from mine dual citizenship.
Chantal from Earth Nomads
Our family of five has three nationalities. Between French, Dutch, American and one green card, we pretty much have ourselves covered for a large part of the planet. It’s awesome when we want to stay in either Europe or the U.S. for longer than the usual tourist visa would allow. Also, if we have an opportunity to make some extra cash, we can legally do so on two continents. We also feel some sense of security being able to be choosy about which document to show in certain countries. I feel that as an American you may not feel as safe traveling certain parts of the world in current political climate.
However, it is definitely not all roses when it comes to having multiple nationalities. There is a lot involved when it comes to logistics and finances. Working in multiple places for instance has major tax implications. It’s not necessarily unfair or unreasonable, but imagine having to go through dreaded, complicated tax day more than once a year. Then there is renewing a passport from outside of your country of citizenship. If your home base is Colorado, like ours, every visit to a consulate requires a 2,500-mile road trip. Keeping up with multiple passports is an expensive hobby in more way than one.
In addition, you need to keep your head straight and juggle your documents carefully. Leaving one country with one passport and entering the next country with the other passport may seem like a smart idea, and it usually works. Unless you need to prove that you have not overstayed your welcome. U.S., for example, is extremely strict in allowing you in only on your US passport if you are a citizen. Even with a valid passport from another country and just hopping into Canada for a couple days, my husband got in trouble. Lesson learned.
Cris from LooknWalk
I have Romanian citizenship by birth and Hungarian by ancestry. The only disadvantage for me is figuring out taxes. Both countries have rather “interesting” laws, so my attorney has been having fun guiding me in the process.
The major advantage of dual citizenship for me is having a Schengen passport. That’s the Hungarian one. Romania is not in the Schengen zone nor has an agreement with the U.S., which means that travel there comes with a lengthy and pricy visa procedure. On the other hand, Hungarian nationals get visas on arrival (after filling in an online document). We have had plans to visit for a wedding anniversary – complete with all the research about the passport advantage – but decided against it after the election.
The ease of travel was the main reason we (my husband and I) wanted the second citizenship. We flew Hungary to Italy (so within the Schengen zone) and it was so easy even though Romania is also in the European Union.
I only have one passport: the Hungarian one. I use my Romanian ID card otherwise. My rule is to use the same ID on a trip. If I go to Hungary from Romania, for example, I use my Romanian ID. Also, if I fly out of Romania to other European Union countries, I use my Romanian ID. If I fly out of Hungary, I use my Hungarian passport.
As a certified travel agent, I know all the do’s and don’ts to avoid having issues which comes in handy. I also have to remember to ensure that the plane tickets match the ID I’m carrying.
One nagging thing? I have two accounts on my favorite airline – with both citizenships – to benefit from the discounts (you cannot change the name of the “main passenger” and if that passenger isn’t on the trip, no discounts. Sigh)
Kemi from Musings and Adventures
I have both Nigerian and American nationalities as I was born in New York City to Nigerian parents. Seeing as my formative years were spent in Nigeria, I consider myself culturally and ethnically Nigerian first.
I have a U.S. passport so that is the main advantage, of course, especially when travelling to countries with minimal Black population. I don’t feel that as a Black person I get any privileges in the U.S. so having them elsewhere is a good feeling.
Living in the country of my birth, even if I wasn’t raised here, exposed me to the different facets of American history and culture in a way that friends and relatives abroad have not been.
I’m kind of in a funny spot: I left Nigeria as a young teen for school in England and apart from a three-year stint after college; I haven’t lived there in a long while. At the same time, I moved to America for graduate school and I consider New York City home. I still get the “where are you really from?” questions because my hybrid accent is not a stereotypical American twang. My answer depends on my mood.
I personally don’t see any disadvantages to dual citizenship or using two passports. Especially in the west where I only use my U.S. passport. Years ago when I visited Nigeria, the officials on both legs acted difficult because I arrived on a Nigerian passport and was departing on an American one. They feigned ignorance of dual nationality. They finally let me through but my mum said “never again!”
The next time I went, I got a Nigerian visa on my U.S. passport and I was still bothered because the officials on arrival saw my very Nigerian names and asked why I didn’t have a Nigerian passport.
I relayed my previous ordeal, they told me not to worry and explained that immigration officials were becoming more familiarised with dual nationalities. Next time, I should come with both passports and I’d be fine.
James from Portugalist
I’m very lucky in that I have both an Irish and a U.K. passport, although it’s only recently that both have become so valuable to me. Initially, I applied for the British passport in case I lost my Irish passport – something that has happened to me before. Now, I’m very glad to have both (and not to have lost a passport in a long time).
For a long time, both were identical with the exception of few differences. The U.K. passport can get me a 90-day tourist card in Suriname, for example, whereas if I travel with my Irish passport I would have to apply for a visa. Having a U.K. passport in a situation like this is useful, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world not to have it.
It’s only recently, since the U.K. decided to vote for Brexit, that it’s really become beneficial to have both. U.K. citizens are scrambling to trace their heritage and desperately hoping it leads back to a country in the European Union so that they can continue to travel and live freely within the E.U. Having an Irish passport is definitely a big plus here.
European Union citizens who want to live in the U.K. are also looking at their options. Many that have been here for several years are now applying for permanent residency or citizenship. Having a U.K. passport is definitely a big plus here, although it’s also possible that Irish citizens will be able to stay in the U.K. after Brexit. Ireland and the U.K. have a special agreement that predates the European Union, allowing their citizens to move freely between the two countries. I hope that this will be upheld but, just in case it isn’t, I’m very thankful that I have my U.K. passport to fall back on.
James from Travel Collecting
I hold both Australian and American nationalities. As an Australian married to an American, living in the U.S., I had a Green Card (permanent resident card) for a few years. As soon as I could, however, I decided to apply for American citizenship, knowing that I could keep my Australian citizenship too. I wouldn’t have done it if I had to give up being Australian – being a tourist in my own country, and not being able to stay for more than a few months if I needed to, seemed too much of a sacrifice.
Even so, I had mixed feelings at first about dual citizenship. It felt strange to take on a new nationality. I don’t love everything being American represents to many people in the world, so I had to come to terms with that. The U.S. requires its citizens to pay taxes even if they live abroad, so if I ever decide to move back to Australia, I would pay double taxes. However, I decided to take the plunge because I lived in the U.S. and I wanted to vote. Voting is compulsory in Australia, so Australians grow up with a culture of voting. Not being able to vote at all felt disempowering. I am now happy to be both American and Australian.
I have passports for both countries even though Australian passports are ridiculously expensive. Although I’ve never had any issues travelling with two passports, I mostly travel on my American one because it is easier. When I return from a trip, I’m required to enter the U.S. on my American passport, so unless there is a specific reason to use my Australian passport, it is simpler to use one.
I travel as an Australian in two situations (and can envision a third) – when I go to Australia and when visas or entry fees are significantly cheaper for Australians than for Americans. If I ever wanted to go to a country that had friendlier feelings towards Australians than Americans, I would use my Australian passport then, too. It really is the best of both worlds.
Michelle Maraj from Travel After Five
I was born in Canada and grew up in the U.S. This granted me both a Canadian and American passport, and I tend to use them interchangeably. The biggest advantage of having two passports is that it opens the door up to how easy it is to access certain countries. Having dual citizenship is helpful for my firm. If we were to have a client in Canada, it would be much simpler for me to travel back and forth.
The biggest disadvantage I have found to having dual nationalities is updating them. I got married last year, and I honestly still have not updated my name on the passports. It is expensive to have to update two passports, and to prepare all of the paperwork and passport photos.
I personally have not faced any challenges traveling with multiple passports. If I plan on going to a Commonwealth country, I typically bring my Canadian passport. However, since I do live in the U.S., on some occasions I will only travel with my American passport. Whether I travel with both passports or one depends on the country I’m going to and whether I feel like managing both.
My dual citizenship
I have never really given much thought to having dual citizenship. By birth, I have a Polish/European Union citizenship. However, I am also a Canadian citizen.
In the past, I have always used my Canadian passport. Once my Polish one expired, (I don’t even remember when) I never bothered to renew it. There was no need to as my Canadian passport pretty much got me anywhere I needed to go. It definitely won the passport advantage game and I didn’t want to pay for a passport I wasn’t going to use.
As we plan to spend more time in Europe, I have been thinking about getting a Polish passport. The process, cost and effort required, however, are the main reasons why I haven’t bothered thus far. The main advantage for me would be the ability to stay in the Schengen zone for longer and get employment if I chose to do so. However, as Alex only has Canadian citizenship, the point would be moot.
Challenge with having multiple passports
Some countries don’t recognize dual citizenship so pulling out all your passports at immigration might not be a good idea. From what I’ve read, Poland is one of those countries. It also has its own share of peculiar laws that have prevented me from visiting.
At one point, Poland required all its citizens to enter the country on a Polish passport. Then the rules were changed so that you could’ve entered the country on a different passport with a necessary visa. Honestly, I have no idea what the law is now. Since I only have a Canadian passport, I have not gone back to Poland in a very long time. Part of me is terrified that they would take it away. It is not something I’m willing to chance.
As I left Poland as a child, I don’t have Polish ID, similar to what you get in many other European countries. I also don’t really know all the rules for moving between different countries in the European Union. Having it will also not help Alex get Polish citizenship through marriage. We would have to live in Poland for two years before he could apply.
Does it then make sense for me to go through the process of getting a Polish passport? I am still deciding.
I think having a dual citizenship is definitely a plus. Especially if you’re thinking of moving abroad. Whether you take advantage of it is a personal matter. It probably comes down to what nationality you hold and what advantages come with having it.
As the Canadian passport has ranked (with few others) as the fifth most powerful passport in the world, I think I’m good with travelling as a Canadian. Should we decided to stay more permanently in Europe, the additional passport will make sense.
How about you? Do you hold multiple nationalities and juggle travel with multiple passports? Let me know.
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About the author:
Travelling in the footsteps of history and blogging about it. Forever Indiana Jones wanna be. Come along for the ride!