Dual (or multiple) citizenship occurs when a person is a citizen of two or more countries.

A citizen of Canada will retain Canadian citizenship upon acquiring a second citizenship in another country. In fact, Canadian citizens cannot lose their citizenship unless they voluntarily renounce it via a complicated legal procedure. However, for citizens of many other countries who obtain Canadian citizenship, dual citizenship does not always apply. Some countries will revoke citizenship when a citizen of that country acquires a Canadian passport; other nations may simply not recognize the new citizenship at all.

Some common ways to obtain citizenship are:

  • Being born in territory considered to be of that country;
  • Having one or more parents who are citizens of that country;
  • Having married a person of that citizenship
  • Having gone through the legal process of earning citizenship via examination in a previously foreign country;
  • Having lived in that country for enough time to qualify for citizenship.

There are approximately 90 countries that permit dual citizenship, Canada being one of them. While Canada has very open and accepting laws regarding dual citizenship, this cannot be said for all countries. Each country possesses their own set of rules and laws regarding dual citizenship. Those seeking Canadian citizenship should consult their native government or native country’s embassy or consulate for complete information regarding the impact on their current citizenship status should they acquire Canadian citizenship.

While there are many benefits to dual and multiple citizenship, some disadvantages may occur. In addition to possibly having a previous citizenship revoked, it is also possible to be caught between two countries’ legalities, taxation, compulsory military service, and other seemingly unexpected problems. The laws that apply to each individual depend on which country of citizenship the person resides in at that time. It is crucial to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding dual or multiple citizenship in each country of citizenship.

In many ways, dual citizenship is a proud value for Canada and its citizens. Dual citizenship speaks to Canada’s diversity and comfort with multiculturalism. Many new Canadians opt to keep their previous citizenship in addition to their Canadian citizenship. In most cases, having dual citizenship is positive and beneficial - typical of many families in Canada, whether they are recently arrived or long-established.

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