Trials and Tribulations of Triple Citizenship

As I’m getting ready to acquire US citizenship, a coworker of mine made a comment in passing about how I will now be able to travel anywhere in the world without issues or visas. My instant reaction was to just say ‘yeah, that’d be great’, but it got me thinking. How many proverbial doors will open to me when I acquire US citizenship?

As anyone who has dual citizenship, I get to enjoy the benefits of swapping my passport when entering other countries to avoid having to apply for visas (or in some cases, a lower priced visa cost). I (and by marriage, Jon) get to enjoy skipping the lengthy non-EU line whenever we visit Europe, just like we both get to go through the Mercosur lines when visiting many countries in South America. When I get back home, I get to use Global Entry as I’ve been a resident in the US for over 5 years.
 
Passport Agency

Passport and Visa Pages

 
Bot now, as I’m getting closer to taking my US citizenship tests, I’ll join a somewhat more select group of people who get to have triple citizenship. It’s not a very usual occurrence since some countries do not allow for dual citizenship, let alone triple. But the more I kept thinking about its benefits – beyond being able to vote in US elections – the more I realized there aren’t a lot of places I can’t currently access visa-free that I’ll be able to visit after.
 
According to Passport Index, as an Italian I am able to access 119 countries visa-free, which is more than the 112 countries American passport holders can visit without a visa. As an Argentine, I have access to 105 countries visa-free, which is still just seven fewer than with an American passport. So if we add all the countries I’m allowed to visit visa-free as an Italian plus the delta of those I get to visit as an Argentine, the Italo-Argentine tally goes up to 123.
 
Once I become American (or Italo-Argentine-American…), I’ll only be adding Canada, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea to this list for a total of 126 countries without ever having to apply for a tourist visa. As for the countries that offer visa on arrival, eVisa, or eTA, my count goes from 45 countries for Italy, 52 countries for Argentina to… 53 countries for United States. That’s not bad at all, but also certainly isn’t as life altering as everyone keeps telling me.
 
Europe Flight Sale

Unione Europea – Repubblica Italiana

 
On the other hand, when Jon gets his Italian citizenship via marriage to me, he will add Bolivia, Brazil, Gambia, Paraguay, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Venezuela and Vietnam to the list of countries he can visit as an Italian-American.
 

Pros

Having said that, I do understand the fringe benefits of multiple citizenships when visiting other countries. It would never in a million years occur to me to use an American passport to check into a hotel in Russia, or to use my Argentinian passport when traveling to the Falkland Islands. Nationalities have a way of projecting an image that invokes certain feelings in other people, and if given the chance, I’d like to avoid awkward circumstances.
 
Another great benefit is the ability to visit countries and get stamped on different passports. Say I wanted to go to both Israel and Iran. It would probably save me a lot of heartburn if I were to keep those stamps in different passports.
 
Same goes for losing your passport or having it stolen when you’re abroad. I always travel with both my passports and keep them separate so that if something happens to one, I’m not stuck somewhere else waiting for an Embassy to issue an emergency passport on a weekend or some other nightmare scenario.
 

Cons

As for downsides of holding multiple citizenships, one of them has to be being detained by US Customs and Immigration a few times while coming back home to explain why I’m holding multiple passports with mismatching names – something CBP agents should at this point not be surprised with at all (yes, you can have different names in different countries). And I have even had to explain in my very rustic Italian why my Italian is very rustic when visiting Italy (no, not all Italians speak Italian). 
 
In other cases, having multiple citizenships might imply having to pay taxes in more than one jurisdiction, or being conscripted by more than one country’s military. In my particular case this is of no concern to me mostly because none of these countries have mandatory service and I’m no longer in a draft age.
 

Conclusion

While I’m looking forward to my citizenship ceremony, and albeit with a somewhat bittersweet feeling given the current state of affairs, I am a bit disappointed that the travel related benefits I will get out of this will be rather marginal. At least I paid the $725 application fee with my credit card and got some miles out of it…
 

Do you have multiple citizenships? Do you know of any other benefits I may have missed?

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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16 Comments

  1. As a US citizen, you have to file and pay taxes regardless of where you live in the world, forever. That means double taxation in some cases, and it makes it impossible to plan for deductions, retirement, etc. In addition, all international financial institutions are required to provide a full report of all of your accounts annually to the US government or face a massive fine. And so instead of doing this, they just don’t service US citizens, regardless if you are a citizen of their country. Which means you might not be able to get a house loan, or even a bank account, in another country. It’s called FATCA. That is why a record number of dual US Citizens are renouncing their citizenship.

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    • Absolutely. I just didn’t include this “benefit” because I’ll be a US citizen living in the US – at least for now, but it is a great point to mention for anyone not in my circumstances.

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  2. @ Ben — Don’t let the current state of affairs dampen your enthusiasm. The jerks in charge won’t last forever. At least you will be able to vote and help boot them out of office!

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    • Agreed, that’s what I keep reminding myself every day, Gene!

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  3. Hi Ben, congrats on your blog and all the great info. Keep it up!
    I am currently in a very similar situation as you, Latino Jus-solis, German Jus-sanguinis with U.S residency, but I am refrained from acquiring the U.S citizenship as I will loose my EU (German) Citizenship for doing so. I was wondering, how did you bypass this issue?

    Best Regards!

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    • Thanks Oscar! I’m not entirely sure how German citizenship works, but I was under the impression that both countries allowed for dual citizenship (I have a few acquaintances that are German-Americans). You should reach out to your German consulate to get more info and then let me know because I’m curious now

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      • Every European country is different. Germany indeed does not allow you to keep your German citizenship if you are naturalized in another country (as I recall).

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      • Ben, I believe German and Italian laws are very similar if not the same regarding loss of citizenship from naturalisation. I was told once, that there might be a special permission you can request from the government (based on certain criteria) in order to maintain the EU passport while naturalising in another country. You should look into this before you finalise your process. Let us know if everything went well. Would help a lot of people I know in the same situation.

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  4. I have US and Malaysian citizenship — the latter ranks as the most powerful non-Western aligned country, so I enjoy visa and reciprocity free travel to much of South America, eastern Africa, and Central Asia.
    Until a few years ago, North Korea, Syria, and Libya were visa free; Cuba, Sudan, Yemen, and Iran still are, though.

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    • Nice! That’s a nice combo you have going on!

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    • I thought Malaysia didn’t recognise dual citizenship? So if they find out you also hold US citizenship they’ll require you to renounce either your Malaysian or US citizenship.

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  5. Due to the pain of FATCA compliance there are many financial institutions outside the US that wont do business with American citizens. I have American friends who have had a lot of trouble even just trying to open a checking account in Europe and Asia.

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  6. The question is, if and when you need diplomatic help abroad, whom would you trust to be more effective, your U.S. embassy or the Italian one? It is my understanding that U.S. does not look kindly on dual citizens entering the country on another passport and then needing help. I believe that while not forbidden, U.S. does not recognize such a thing as dual citizenship

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    • I would trust any embassy that could provide me with assistance, and if I have many to resort to, all the better. I have had nothing but excellent experiences with my current consulates while in the US, and I’ve been lucky enough not to need urgent assistance when abroad. I wouldn’t think it made any difference what passport you enter a country when you present yourself at an embassy, especially if countries have dual citizenship agreements.

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  7. The Italian passport is NOT red covered

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    • It’s burgundy, it shows different in pictures depending on the lighting 🤷🏻‍♂️

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