Want British dual citizenship or nationality? Read this guide.

Zorica Lončar
09.12.20
7 minute read

If you’re an expat living in the United Kingdom, you might be considering taking up British citizenship. Becoming a British citizen means you can come and go freely from the UK, you can vote and run for public office, and have access to the National Health Service.

There are lots of advantages to becoming a British citizen. But what if you don’t want to give up your original nationality to do so?

Taking up dual citizenship might be the answer. Here’s the lowdown on who can apply, and how you go about getting dual citizenship with the UK.

Can you have dual citizenship in the United Kingdom?

You can hold dual citizenship in the United Kingdom, if you fulfil the criteria and submit an application. Your application must then be approved before you are considered to hold UK citizenship.

But - and it’s a big but - whether or not this works for you will depend on your original citizenship, as some other countries don’t accept dual nationalities. In this case, you might be forced by the law in your home country to give up your original citizenship at the point that you become a British national.¹

Which major countries don’t allow dual citizenship with the United Kingdom?

The laws regarding dual nationality are complex, and if you’re considering taking up a second citizenship you should seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer.

Ultimately, whether you can take dual citizenship of the UK, depends in part on your country of origin. There are a number of countries which don’t allow dual citizenship, regardless of the circumstances.

If you’re from one of these countries, you can’t take up British citizenship alongside your original citizenship. Local law says that you have to give up your original nationality before taking up British citizenship. These countries include:

  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)²

Which countries allow dual citizenship with the United Kingdom?

Some countries allow dual citizenship without restriction, others have certain rules in place which means you can only accept a second citizenship from certain countries. In the case of the UK, there are some European countries which allow second citizenship primarily to people who want to take it from other European countries.

Similarly, Pakistan has a limited number of countries which it approves for second citizenship, but the UK is one of these.³

Some of the main countries which accept dual citizenship with the UK include:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States⁴

Can you get triple citizenship in the United Kingdom?

Triple citizenship, which is also referred to as multiple citizenship, is allowed in the United Kingdom. You don’t need to give up previous nationalities when you apply to become a British citizen, and holding other citizenships won’t affect your application for British citizenship.⁵

How many nationalities are you actually allowed to have?

There’s no limit to the number of nationalities you can have in the eyes of the British law. However, because many other countries do ban dual citizenship, or limit the terms under which people can hold multiple citizenships, this can effectively cap the number of citizenships any one individual can hold.⁵

How can you lose British citizenship?

You can choose to renounce your British citizenship if, for example, you want to take citizenship of a country which doesn’t allow dual nationality. You have to be over 18 and of sound mind - and renouncing your citizenship might mean that you no longer have the right to live in the UK.

You can lose your citizenship if it’s found that you’ve lied on your application. Although it’s possible to lose your citizenship if you’re a British national by birth, it’s unusual, and usually only happens if someone is considered a threat to national security. The Home Secretary can choose to remove citizenship in this case.⁶

What are the actual steps to becoming a citizen of the United Kingdom?

There are several steps to becoming a British citizen. Here’s an outline of the steps you’ll have to take:

  • Ensure you meet the requirements, and are eligible for British citizenship
  • Apply, including submitting relevant documents and proof of eligibility
  • Pay your fee - currently this is £1330 if you’re becoming a citizen by naturalisation⁷
  • Provide biometric information - usually fingerprints and a photo
  • You may be invited to an interview, in which you have to speak in English without an interpreter
  • You may have to sit a ‘Life in the UK’ test, depending on your circumstances
  • Assuming your application is approved, you’ll attend a citizenship ceremony
  • Following your citizenship ceremony, you can return your biometric residence permit and apply for a British passport ⁴

How long does it take to become a British citizen?

Before you can apply to become a British citizen you have to fulfil some fairly strict requirements. One of the requirements is based on your residency, and states that you usually have to have lived in the UK for 5 years prior to submitting your application.⁸

If you fulfil this requirement and send in your application, you should hear back to confirm that your paperwork has been received within about 4 weeks. The actual citizenship decision can take up to 6 months - and longer if you’re required to give more detail or attend an interview.⁹

If I’m obtaining dual citizenship, do I need to inform both countries of my new citizenship, or do the countries themselves do that?

The short answer is - it depends.

The UK allows dual citizenship, so holding another nationality alongside British citizenship isn’t a problem in Britain. However, if your country of origin doesn’t allow dual nationality this could get tricky.

It’s best to check with an immigration lawyer, or your local embassy or consulate, if you have a duty to inform your home country of your intentions. Do this before you start the process to become a British citizen, to make sure you don’t fall foul of the law.

The short answer is - it depends.

The UK allows dual citizenship, so holding another nationality alongside British citizenship isn’t a problem in Britain. However, if your country of origin doesn’t allow dual nationality this could get tricky.

It’s best to check with an immigration lawyer, or your local embassy or consulate, if you have a duty to inform your home country of your intentions. Do this before you start the process to become a British citizen, to make sure you don’t fall foul of the law.

Cost of British citizenship

After you’ve determined which countries allow dual citizenship and what steps you have to take, it’s time to look into the exact costs. British citizenship is not cheap, so time won’t be the only thing you’re investing.

As mentioned before, the application fee itself is £1330, but make sure to add in another £80 for the ceremony costs. The biometric enrolment fee is another £19.20.⁷

Also, the UK nationality test or the so-called Life in the UK test will set you back £50.¹⁰ Keep in mind that, in some cases, you’ll need to show a certain knowledge of the English language in order to apply for citizenship. Only approved test providers are accepted and the price of the IELTS Life Skills Test is £150.¹¹

You always have the option of consulting an immigration lawyer to help you with the whole process. Lawyer fees vary greatly, depending on the office and its location. This could help you, but it could be one of your biggest expenses.

Some may only need to apply for a British passport, not citizenship, so check if you’re one of them. In that case, you can find out more about the process and the cost of British passport on the official government website.

Trying to save time and money? Wise Borderless multi-currency account could help.

If you have, or hope to acquire, dual nationality, chances are that you live and work away from your home country, or frequently need to travel. Juggling your life between different countries can cause some practical headaches - and be costly. This is especially so, when it comes to moving your money between bank accounts held in different countries and currencies.

The Wise multi-currency Borderless account is a neat solution for people who need their money to be flexible. You can hold your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, all within one account, and see your balance at a glance. Then, when you want to convert money between currencies, you can do so.

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Conclusion

If you’re considering dual citizenship, there are some practical considerations to bear in mind. Whether or not you can acquire British citizenship will depend on your country of origin - but for many expats who live and work in the UK, it's possible.

And if you’re splitting your time between two - or more - countries, then it also pays to think about practical solutions to make your money work for you. A Wise multi-currency Borderless account is built for international people.

While traditional banks could charge you excessive fees to move your money around, a Borderless account lets your money move with you, with fair exchange rates and transparent fees. There are no nasty surprises, so you can just get on with enjoying life.

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Sources:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/dual-citizenship
  2. https://karibi.com/en/countries-dont-recognize-dual-citizenship/
  3. http://www.dgip.gov.pk/Files/Immigration.aspx
  4. https://www.davidsonmorris.com/dual-citizenship-uk/
  5. https://immigrationbarrister.co.uk/multiple-nationality-and-multiple-citizenship/
  6. https://www.whsolicitors.co.uk/can-british-citizenship-taken-away/
  7. https://www.expatica.com/uk/moving/visas/british-citizenship-1028671/
  8. https://www.ibblaw.co.uk/service/immigration-services-individuals/british-citizenship-and-naturalisation
  9. https://www.ibblaw.co.uk/service/immigration-services-individuals/british-citizenship-and-naturalisation
  10. https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test
  11. https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/united-kingdom

All sources checked on December 7, 2020


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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