Dual citizen responsibilities can vary widely from country to country, though there are some general ones that overlap. In this particular overview, we’ll be focusing on dual citizen responsibilities in the EU (Bulgaria and Cyprus), Caribbean, USA, UK and Canada.
The perks of having a dual citizenship are well known, but the responsibilities are not as widely publicized. Securing a second citizenship can be a big decision and lifestyle change, so it’s important to understand all of the aspects that it entails-the benefits, requirements, and the responsibilities.
Countries offering citizenship by investment programs strive to provide an attractive setup and regime for investors and their families when it comes to lifestyle, financial and business-related aspects. These countries want to create an environment that benefits everyone - new citizens, the country, and the economy as a whole. However, in addition to all of the benefits, come reasonable dual citizen responsibilities.
General Dual Citizen Responsibilities
Each country expects that its naturalized citizens be loyal and obey the laws. Fortunately, one of the requirements during the citizenship by investment application process is that investors must prove that they’re honest, of good character, and not under criminal investigation. So if you’ve been approved, it means you’re already in good standing, and must simply continue to uphold this status.
As a naturalized citizen of any given country, you can lose your citizenship if you commit treason or join an army that is at war with your country.
These are the most basic dual citizen responsibilities. Each country also has their own specific dual citizen responsibilities - see our overview below for more details.
European Union Countries
Citizens of Bulgaria and Cyprus are automatically citizens of the EU. While each nation has its own unique laws, European law still apply. As such, European citizens are obligated to know and follow EU laws. When it comes to citizens by investment, these responsibilities tend to focus on international trade, free movement of capital, European product standards, and the health and safety of employees and consumers in member states.
The Republic of Bulgaria
Article 26 of the Constitution states that all citizens, regardless of location, have the rights and responsibilities of any other citizen as described in the Constitution. The responsibilities include:
- Learning the Bulgarian language, but maintaining the right to use their native language, except where the law requires Bulgarian to be used.
- Respecting the rights and legitimate interests of others.
- Defending “the Fatherland” and preparing for defense in accordance with current statutes.
- Providing assistance to the State in the event of natural disasters.
- Paying taxes and fees in accordance with the law.
The Republic of Cyprus
- Cypriot businesses must keep accurate financial books, and must submit audited accounts and financial statements each year to the Registrar of Companies.
- Changes in company officers must be logged with the Registrar.
- VAT (Value Added Tax) returns must be submitted quarterly, and income tax returns must be submitted within 15 months of the tax year-end.
- Company directors and other officers are personally responsible for adhering to these and other laws which guide corporate activity.
- Cyprus is considered the gateway to Asian and African trade, as well as to European commerce, so citizens should bear in mind that there may be limitations imposed on trade with certain foreign regimes. Each citizen is obligated to know the limitations, and to operate within them.
- Cyprus has a voluntary military service. The National Guard may conscript individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 for service in time of need.
Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and St. Lucia all maintain a common set of responsibilities and obligations for all their citizens. The philosophy behind this agreement is to encourage personal responsibility and a sense of contributing to the betterment of all Caribbean nations. These obligations include:
- Obeying all laws
- Serving on a jury if called
- Paying all due taxes
- Enrolling in the national electoral register
- Voting “carefully and sensibly” in local and national elections
- Keeping up to date and well-informed about local and national issues, so they can vote carefully and sensibly
- Contributing positively to community life
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda has its own distinct laws in addition to the general Caribbean mandate. Naturalized citizens can have their citizenship revoked if:
- They commit a crime which carries a prison sentence of more than 12 months, and if they commit that crime within 5 years of becoming a citizen
- If they commit a crime in another country which carries a prison sentence longer than 7 years
Grenadian law allows the courts to revoke naturalized citizenship if a citizen speaks disloyally about the country, or if they trade with a country that is in conflict with Grenada.
USA Dual Citizenship Obligations
- Support and defend the Constitution
- Serve the country when required*
- File your tax report with the IRS each year, regardless of physical residence and origin of assets (taxation is based on citizenship, not residency)
- Report for jury duty
*Although there hasn’t been a draft since 1973, draft registration is required for men over 18
Note: The U.S. government allows its citizens to hold dual citizenship, but it does not encourage it as a policy. In most cases, the US is not concerned if another country also claims you as a citizen.
UK Dual Citizen Responsibilities
- Civic duties are an expected part of life (voting, jury service, giving evidence in court, etc.)
- Traditions and common practices serve as a constitution
- Income received in the UK or outside income brought into the UK is taxable
Canada Dual Citizen Obligations
Canada outlines all its values in a special Charter Of Rights And Freedoms, with an emphasis on:
- Multiculturalism is the lifeblood of the society (It’s a "mosaic,” allowing you to preserve your cultural identity vs. the US concept of a "melting pot")
- 40 hours of community service are required to graduate high school in Ontario
- There is no official military draft; enlisting in the army is a career choic
- An annual tax report is required from all citizens, but varies depending on the province of residence
Benefits and Responsibilities
While most of the distinctions listed above will likely not be applicable, it’s important to know what is expected of you as a dual citizen, as well as the types of actions that are not tolerated and can put your citizenship at risk.
As Voltaire said: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Citizenship by investment is certainly a tremendous source of great power, and now that we’ve covered the dual citizen responsibilities and their consequences, we’d like to focus on the benefits. All of the aforementioned nations offer a variety of wonderful benefits and advantages for high net worth individuals who become citizens.
Learn more about the dual citizenship benefits, or contact us for a free initial consultation.