Is it Legal to Have a Second Passport?

Is it Legal to Have a Second Passport?

John M. Says:

Hi Ted,

I read your email and it’s interesting since I have European heritage. But are you sure it’s legal for an American citizen to have a passport from another country?

IL’s Chief Global Diversification Expert,Ted Bauman Says:

Hi John,

Thanks for writing in! I understand your concern. To most people, owning multiple passports sounds like something only a spy or an international criminal would do. But that’s just Hollywood’s (deeply inaccurate) portrayal.

The reality is that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is fully legal for a U.S. citizen to hold two, or even more, citizenships. (And plenty of Hollywood figures know this—including “America’s Dad” Tom Hanks, who holds a second passport from Greece.)

This has been the case since 1967, when the Supreme Court upheld the right of citizens to hold a foreign passport. Before that time, the official rule was that a person acquiring second nationality automatically lost U.S. citizenship, even though that policy was loosely enforced.

Dual citizenship may result automatically. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that a child born within the U.S. To parents of any nationality is a U.S. citizen. A child born in a foreign country to a U.S. citizen parent becomes both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country where he or she is born (if that country has such a provision). In that case, the child must usually formally confirm acceptance of U.S. citizenship before their 18th birthday.

Dual status may result from law, as when a U.S. citizen acquires foreign citizenship by marrying a spouse from another nation, or a when foreign person naturalized as a new U.S. citizen retains the citizenship of their birth country.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how many Americans have acquired another passport, experts put the number of U.S. citizens who either hold, or legally are entitled to hold, a second passport at over 40 million.

The point is that dual citizenship is no longer a novelty, but an accepted legal status you might seriously consider for yourself.

Your qualification for another, second nation’s passport—one that comes with fewer restrictive strings attached—can serve literally as your passport to greater freedom. It can be your key to a whole new world of free movement, foreign residence, expanded international investment, greater flexibility, and even adventure.

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