Many global citizens believe in the concept of dual citizenship, which allows a person to hold two passports from different countries.
Dual citizenship is popularly seen as a convenient way to easily travel between and live in two countries without the hassle of visa applications, immigration, and hotel bookings. They also get to enjoy all the benefits of both passports; including the ability to live and work freely across borders, and to easily own properties in both countries without the taxation imposed on foreigners.
What is Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship is a legal status in which an individual is regarded as a national of two countries simultaneously. This means that the individual is able to hold a passport of two countries at the same time.
Those who move between two countries frequently for work and travel, or who have family in both countries, may be inclined to seek dual citizenship as there are many benefits, especially for expatriate families.
Dual citizens enjoy the benefits of citizenship in both countries, including access to social service systems as well as subsidised rates for healthcare and school tuition fees, all of which are usually afforded only to citizens. They are entitled to voting rights, public housing benefits, and in some cases, even tax benefits. They will also be able to easily create local bank accounts without the administrative inconveniences commonly experienced by non-citizens.
However, despite the multitude of benefits, there are also some drawbacks to having a dual citizenship. The process to acquire dual citizenship is usually long and complicated, sometimes taking many years to acquire. The application process often requires the aid of an immigration lawyer, which can be extremely expensive.
In addition to the tedious paperwork and high costs; depending on the country, one may also be faced with the issue of double taxation on personal income, where both countries impose taxes on the same income flow. As tax laws are complicated and are subject to changes change based on government decisions, you will have to constantly keep up with any updates or changes in laws in both countries. You might consider hiring a qualified tax accountant for this – however, that will increase the amount of time and money you need to spend on dual citizenship.
Not only that, but you will be beholden to the laws of both countries. As such, you may have to fulfil dual obligations which might jeopardise your citizenship or employment options in the other country, such as having to serve compulsory military service in one, but not the other. An example of this is a dual-citizenship with South Korea and the United States, where participating in compulsory South Korean military service may render one unable to work in the United States’ government or military service.
Singapore’s Stance on Dual Citizenship
In Singapore, one may be a Dual Citizen of another country only until the age of 21. Upon reaching 21 years of age, the passport holder will have to either renounce their foreign citizenship, or have their Singapore Citizenship automatically revoked.
There are four ways for a child to become a Singapore Citizen, namely: by birth, by descent, by registration or by naturalisation. A child born outside Singapore to legally married parents, of whom one is a Singapore Citizen, is also eligible for Singaporean Citizenship by descent.
For children born in Singapore to parents who are Singapore Citizens, Singapore Citizenship is guaranteed. Citizens by naturalisation will have to revoke their previous citizenship upon receiving Singapore Citizenship.
For minors who obtained Singapore citizenship by descent or registration, they must take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty (ORAL) after turning 21 years old and before their 22nd birthday, to retain their Singapore citizenship status. Otherwise, they will lose their Singapore citizenship on their 22nd birthday and will remain a citizen of the other country instead. In this case, they will have to apply for a Student’s Pass, Work Pass or Visit Pass, with no guarantee of continued residence in Singapore. They can also apply for Permanent Residency. However, they will have to forfeit all benefits accorded to citizens, including the passport freedom that comes with Singapore Citizenship.
While this may seem stringent for a country that gladly welcomes foreigners into its fold; Singapore is still a small nation with limited space, and these constraints make it difficult to implement a dual-citizenship system. But there are still many benefits to Singaporean Citizenship for those who travel frequently. According to the latest report of the Henley Passport Index, released by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, the Singapore passport is one of the top powerful passports (2nd in the world, according to the 2022 Henley Passport Index), with visa-free entry in 192 countries including many European nations, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and much of the Asia Pacific region.
If you are hesitant in deciding to apply for a Singapore Citizenship due to the heavy commitment that it requires, do feel free to speak to any one of our knowledgeable consultants here at Xignam, for advice or to clarify any of your doubts. We understand that it may be a difficult decision to make, especially when one’s lifelong home is at stake, and we hope to help make your choice the one that is most suited for you.
– Written by: Asahi Yip, Cayman Management Consultants
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