Dual Nationality

What is Dual Nationality?

Dual nationality (also known as dual citizenship and naturalisation) in the UK means you can be a British Citizen, as well as a citizen in one or more foreign countries. Note that we do not always automatically acquire citizenship in the country in which we are born.

If you want to become a citizen in another country, you can make the appropriate application. As you’d expect, the rules on dual citizenship vary from country to country (some don’t allow dual citizenship).

If you’re unsure if you are already a British citizen, you can check on the government website. Importantly, it partly depends on where you were born and the year in which you were born. You must also understand that marrying a British national does not automatically give you British citizenship.

Is Dual Nationality Allowed in the United Kingdom?

Dual nationality is allowed in the United Kingdom. When you acquire British citizenship, you do not risk losing your original nationality (unlike in some other countries).

However, there may be problems if your country of original citizenship does not recognize dual citizenship. You may be regarded by that country as having renounced your first nationality upon acquiring British citizenship. Or the authorities from your home country may refuse to recognise your UK nationality.

For these reasons, if you are considering applying for British citizenship, it is vital to make enquiries with the authorities of your home country as to the potential implications should you obtain British citizenship.

Advantages of Dual Nationality

Political Rights

As part of the UK community, you will have the right to engage in public life. This means you may exercise your political rights as a British citizen, including voting (and being voted for) in the UK national elections and local council election.

Right of Abode

A British citizen with dual nationality status enjoys the same rights and privileges as all citizens of UK. This includes the right to reside in UK permanently, including the right to leave and re-enter the country at any time.

As a British citizen, you are encouraged to be a productive member of UK society and this means that you are expected to help contribute to the UK economy by joining the labour force.

British Passport

Acquiring British citizenship allows you to apply for a British passport. However, you may not automatically be granted a passport, for example if you are the subject of an arrest warrant or court order restricting your travel.

Disadvantages of Dual Nationality

Acquiring citizenship in another country may jeopardise any existing citizenship you already enjoy. Also, international laws restrain the exercise of dual citizenship. The UK government, for instance, does not have power to give you diplomatic help when you are in your home country.

To ensure your status and protection, contact the authorities at your national country while in the UK and enquire if your newly acquired citizenship has substantially affected your original nationality. Do this before making any travel arrangements to visit your home country.

Applying for Dual Citizenship

If you are a foreign national and wish to acquire British citizenship, you must undergo the standard application process. The guidelines are available on the UK Government web site.

When you make your application you might also need to formally request permission to remain in the UK while your application is being processed. This doesn’t apply if you already enjoy indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

Other Important Information

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  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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