Changing citizenship back to a previously renounced one

Circumstances can change in a person’s life such that one may want to return to being a citizen of a country from which one has previously renounced citizenship. You may decide at 18 that you don’t think you want to have any ties to the place you happened to be born but from which your parents moved when you were an infant, and later in life have returned to the country in which you were born with a completely different perspective, perhaps due to business relations or a better appreciation of your predecessors’ culture. The two countries involved possibly don’t recognize dual citizenship, so you may have had to pick one at your coming of legal age and later changed your mind.

Regardless, it stands to reason that there might be people who change their minds about being a citizen of a certain country, and want to get back what they had once renounced. Is there anything stopping this in general? Is it just too hard to even get back into a country that you have renounced citizenship from? Do they treat you like a sore loser and say “you had your chance, now go away”, or do they welcome you back? I’m guessing it depends on the country, but I can’t find any information on anyone wanting to renaturalize anywhere at all.

impossible to say it would vary enormously with every pair of countries. But lets say you were born in Thailand with one British parent and one Thai one. Thailand doesn’t let you have dual citizenship so at 18 you have to choose to keep one passport only. You choose to keep the UK one. However I believe you can still easily qualify for permanent residency in Thailand on the basis on being born there and having one Thai parent. Eventually you could decide you want to stay there and give up your UK passport and obtain a Thai passport again.

In other cases if you renounce your citizenship as an adult without having to because of dual nationality they might make it a lot harder for you.

Why wouldn’t you keep the Thai one? I was told you cannot give up British citizenship so whatever the Thai government asks you to do won’t have any effect on your UK citizenship status.

You certainly can renounce British Citizenship:

That was just a made up example anyway, in a lot of cases you can get away with keeping both citizenships even if you’re not supposed to, just don’t make it obvious. Anyway I know of one actual example, a person I know is from Thai parents but born in Singapore. She now wants to keep the Singapore citizenship and the Singapore government is actually making her show proof of renouncing her Thai citizenship (documentation from the Thai embassy in Singapore) before she gets her permanent Singapore passport.

The page I linked above does also mention getting your British citizenship back if you’ve previously renounced it. Its possible.

I renounced my US citizenship earlier this year. They make it very clear that there is no “un-renunciation” possible. If I visit the US I’m treated just like any other British national, I can visit for a short time on the visa waiver program. My situation is that I naturalized British after living here for a long time. The rules may be different for people born of one US parent and one British parent.

The US situation is different, usually the reason its done is to get out of paying income tax on world wide income. The US is the only country which makes you pay income tax on world wide income even if you live outside the US.

Other countries are likely to be more open to allowing you to reclaim renounced citizenship because the reason for renouncing it is probably due to dual citizenship restrictions rather than to get out of paying taxes.

A famous case here in Canada is the saga of Conrad Black. The interpretation of the story depends on one’s political leanings and one’s opinion on Black (he’s a very polarizing figure), but the GQ version is:

  • Black held dual UK and Canadian citizenship
  • Black was offered a UK title and the chance to sit in the House of Lords
  • The Canadian Prime Minister said Canadian citizens can’t accept foreign titles and this interpretation was upheld by the court
  • Black renounced his Canadian citizenship to take the UK title
  • Black was convicted of crimes in the US and did some time
  • Now he says he intends to reapply for Canadian citizenship
  • His conviction in the US may make that difficult, so it will become the headache of the government in power at the time to deal with

So, add Canada to the list of countries where it’s not a slam-dunk to regain renounced citizenship.

And an aside to MD2000, I’m surprised you resisted the urge to tell this story, given your evident leanings on the topic you posted in another thread! :wink:

Out of curiosity - why bother?

Not true. The USA is in good company with Eritrea, the only other country which also demands income tax remittances from citizens permanently living abroad. Hopefully the US doesn’t pick up the Eritrean habit of enforcing this with threats against relatives still living at home.

Well, it doesn’t seem to have affected his ability to come and live permanently in Canada, and I assume he can afford the lawyers to get a waiver so he can visit his Florida house too. I assume that unlike the plebeians, Lord Conrad of Singsing will get his citizenship back in due course… and remain a lord.

I am nor kfer but it is probably taxes. From news reports the US is making being living abroad somewhat of a hassle by requiring foreign banks to report on US citizens’ bank accounts. A lot of banks reportedly are deciding that having US expat bank accounts is too much of a hassle and not allowing new accounts and even closing accounts.

Not exactly, I understand. A renunciate (?) can only visit for 30 days per year from what I read somewhere, while a never-American visitor can visit for 180 days a year, subject to cumulative time issues…

This is to prevent someone from renouncing their citizenship for tax reasons then spending an inordinate amount of time enjoying life in America anyway.

A more pointed scenario that encapsulates what I’m most interested in (although trying to find information on this led me to wonder about the general idea) is: suppose that you had a lead on a great job with the Japanese government, but were born in Mongolia to Mongolian parents and only moved to Japan as a teen. In order to get a job with the government, you would have to be a citizen, and neither Mongolia nor Japan recognize dual citizenship. You might hem and haw about leaving behind your ancestry, but you really want to take the government job, as it’s exactly what you want to do with your life and there are no other opportunities for the same kind of work anywhere else in the world. Would Mongolia have any problems with you moving back and becoming a citizen after you retire? Would they restrict your visitation abilities in Mongolia at all while working for the Japanese government?

I can certainly understand the US wanting to restrict visitation from someone who renounces citizenship since the only real reason to do so in a manner that the US considers effective is to avoid paying US income tax, but it sounds like there is in general no limitation on ex-citizens becoming permanent residents again and then applying for citizenship again, nor are there even any problems with re-entering the country every once in a while, in the general case. And it sounds like specifically with renunciations needed for countries that do not recognize dual citizenship that the renounced country has no real problem with it.

Exactly, it’s possible to renounce citizenship but still keep permanent residency status in many countries. I believe that would be the case if I ever wanted to renounce my Australian citizenship, because I was born in Australia I would still have the right of permanent residency there. Then if I spent five years there I could apply for citizenship again.

YMMV and every country will differ so its impossible to answer in general.

Depending on how picky the two countries are, it may not matter whether they “recognize” dual citizenship. The fact that you are a Mongolian citizen recognized by the Mongolian government as being solely a Mongolian citizen does not necessarily preclude another government from recognizing you as having a different citizenship.

For example, Iran is a country that notoriously does not permit renunciation of citizenship (you need the explicit permission of the Council of Ministers, which is rarely granted, and males must also have completed military service). Also, Iran does not recognize dual citizenship acquired in adulthood–as far as they are concerned, once an Iranian, always an Iranian, and never anything but an Iranian. However, other countries such as the U.S. and Canada will allow you to naturalize as citizens, and in the process to renounce Iranian citizenship. Therefore, as far as the government of Canada is concerned, you are only Canadian; as far as the government of Iran is concerned, you are only Iranian, and a renunciation of Iranian citizenship taking in a Canadian courtroom as far as Teheran is concerned isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Both the US and Canada recognize multiple citizenship, so any renunciation when you become a citizen of these two is because your old country doesn’t recognize it. In that Iran situation, it doesn’t sound like there is a need to renounce unless I’m missing something.

No, the U.S. does not formally recognize multiple citizenships. They don’t have a law against it, but that’s mostly because U.S. law is silent on the subject. The laws forbidding multiple citizenship were struck down by the Supreme Court decades ago, but there’s been no replacement. The U.S. position is more of silent toleration rather than any real recognition.

Possessing citizenship in a foreign nation can be a handicap: you’re not going to get much of a security clearance if you’re a dual citizen, e.g., which means large swathes of the military and a chunk of civilian government jobs are off-limits. You’re also still subject to whatever parts of the other nation’s laws they want to impose on non-resident citizens (the U.S. laws re: income tax are a good example).

I used to think Thailand did not allow dual citizenship, but I’ve since learned this is not true, because I know several people with dual citizenship. And I don’t mean ones who were born here half-Thai and just kept quiet about their other nationality. One acquaintance of mine is a university professor, at Mahidol University. He’s a white American from Chicago, lived here for ages. He now holds Thai citizenship, and he assures me he was not asked to give up his American citizenship when he was granted his Thai citizenship. He’s dual Thai-US with the full knowledge of the Thai government.

It does seem to be a common belief that Thailand does not allow it, but again, I have found that to be incorrect.

(Some may ask why go to the trouble and expense of gaining something like Thai citizenship. One answer is tax breaks for businessmen, which are vast for Thai nationals compared with foreigners. In my friend’s example above, he could not advance academically unless he were a Thai national. No, he’s not an English teacher but rather hard sciences. He now has tenure and has brought some academic acclaim to Thailand from his work.)

Just to add: My friend up in Roi Et, his older daughter is in her first year at Khon Kaen University, and he just assured me she has not been required to give up her US passport.

Sorry for the triple post, but this is an issue that has resulted in much discussion by the expat community over here. Searching around, I see from this website: “Citizen of western countries (i.e. US, UK, Canada, Australia, France) can have dual citizenship in most cases (e.g. Thai citizenship and their original nationality) [when applying for Thai citizenship].” That would explain my friend at Mahidol and certain other people I know. Other websites do insist that children choose a nationality upon reaching age 18, but for some reason my friend’s daughter has not been asked to do this.

Thanks for the correction Siam Sam. Yes possibly its just if you have Thai and another nearby Asian countries citizenship they ask you to choose. As you must know, there is never any hard and fast rule here in the LoS, it just depends on the whim of the official at the time its processed. I do know for a fact that Singapore, however, is very strict on not allowing dual citizenship.

As for Dual citizenship being a handicap, well not in my case. I’ve got dual UK-Australia, means I can legally work and live anywhere in the EU and Australia-NZ. Neither the UK or Australia cares about my income abroad if I’m not living there and I’ve never needed a security clearance but even if I did I don’t think UK / Oz dual would be a problem.