British citizens resident in another European Union, or European Economic Area (including Switzeland, for this purpose), may be eligible for citizenship of that country after a period of time resident there.
Citizenship may also be available to those with a parent or grandparent born in another EEA state, or in some cases, on the basis of marriage to a citizen of that country.
Some EU/EEA states allow British citizens to become citizens of that country and retain British citizenship. This should be verified if important but generally includes:
- Czech Republic
- Germany (there is a special exemption from normal requirement to renounce existing citizenship for citizens of EU member states)
- Netherlands (only if the spouse of a Dutch citizen, normally)
The countries that generally do not allow British citizens to retain citizenship on naturalisation are fewer :
- Denmark (scheduled to allow dual citizenship, September 2015)
However, even in these cases, if you find that all you need to do is renounce British citizenship in front of a local official, or even hand in your British passport, you may be able to retain dual citizenship. Britain will only recognise a renunciation of British citizenship on a special form submitted to the British Embassy and passed to the Home Office for formal processing - if the other country doesn't demand this, you may be able to retain your British citizenship. Discuss with a local lawyer if important. This may apply especially in Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Advantages of Dual Citizenship
- You can have a second passport, convenient if you have to send the first one away to get a visa stamped, or have it renewed. Also, you may be eligible for an identity card valid for travel in Europe.
- You may have additional visa-free tourist or working rights in other countries.
- Full voting rights and the right to stand for public office in your new country.
- Security of your right to remain if immigration control is reimposed between EU nations, or the EU itself breaks down. Also, in some circumstances, deportation on criminal grounds is still permitted - as a citizen, you will be exempt from that.
- Certain public sector positions, normally closed to non-citizens, will be open to you.
- It may be easier to sponsor a foreign (non-British) spouse or children for residence in that country and it will almost always be easier for them to get citizenship of that country.
- British citizenship by descent normally stops after the first generation born overseas, your adopted citizenship may pass on further. In most European countries, if a parent is a citizen of the country, then a child is too - irrespective of where the child is born.
- A sense of "belonging" in your adopted home.
- Some countries (unfortunately, Britain not one of them) refuse to extradite their own citizens.
Disadvantages of Dual Citizenship
- The British government cannot give you consular protection if you get into trouble, as a citizen of that country. While consular protection is of limited value in any case, do be aware that if you become a citizen of that country you may be treated the same way as any other citizen of that country and Britain cannot intervene if this treatment is "unfair" or otherwise prejudicial to your rights.
- Military service. Some countries still have military service, which may affect you and/or your children, if you decide to become a citizen.
- Security clearance. If your work in the United Kingdom requires a security clearance, actively seeking the citizenship or passport of another country may cause problems.
- Taxes. Some countries may have special tax exemptions for non-citizens. If you become a citizen, you may lose access to these. In addition, some countries may impose taxes on citizens resident outside the country.
- Diplomatic Service. You may not be eligible for a diplomatic post from your home country in your country of residence, if you are also a citizen of that country.
- EEA Immigration rules. If you become a citizen of your country of residence, you may be no longer eligible to sponsor a spouse or dependents for residence under the European (EEA) immigration rules. You will have to rely solely on the domestic immigration rules, which may be easier - or harder.