Forbidding multiple citizenship: how?

The government in its infinite xenophobia is currently considering forbidding multiple citizenship. What I can’t seem to find out is: how?

They always ask me when I apply for a passport, and I have always truthfully answered that I am also British. I’m starting to think I should lie on the form (maybe a bit late now).

How would they know if I am a citizen elsewhere? Call up all countries in the world? Look it up in the big book of where every person on earth comes from?
How about if they order me to give up my British citizenship, and I say “yup, done deal”, they wouldn’t know that, right?

I have tried finding out on Dutch fora, but nobody seems to have answers. I’m hoping someone can tell me how on earth this could work.

When you say “the government” do you mean the government of the U.K., or of the Netherlands, or some other government? And do you have a link to a news item, or something like that, explaining the proposal?

Which government, OP?

I suppose all any government could really achieve would be to not recognize multiple citizenship and if you really stretch it, revoke or not concede naturalization to anyone found to be exercising rights of multiple citizenship.

Thats about the long and short of it, in their eyes you are only their citizen no matter what anyone else says.

It used to be a sort of agreement I guess between nations that they would honor requests for naturalization purposes, but then some started ignoring it and eventually the USA stopped pushing the issue. Hell there are TONS of elderly people in immigration with me in Trinidad with Trini accents, turns out they are there to reclaim citizenship they gave up years before to naturalize in the USA. They have even set up prochecures for reclaimation and everything.

Waah, so sorry! Government of the Netherlands! I originally wrote that, but lost it in editing :S

ETA will try to find English language article explaining

The Economist discusses it here. Can’t really find anything decent about the recent proposal by Minister Piet-Hein Donner.

Thanks for the answers! Do you know of any occasions where if a government does know of cases of multiple citizenship, they somehow force a person to relinquish one or the other?

They usually do it during naturalization, they require you to produce a form from any other nations you hold citizenship in saying ok this guy is no longer a citizen.
But if those countries know what is going on and want to let you keep it they can in a wink wink fashion.

Thanks grude! Fingers crossed for the UK doing the ol’ wink wink for me if it ever comes to that :wink:

:confused: And what if they won’t give the ex-citizen such a form? I’m sure a lot of countries would be perfectly happy to let them twist in the wind.

Do you have a cite for this from any country’s naturalization process? I’m not insisting that you’re wrong, but I find it hard to believe that any sane country would require this. There are three big issues that make me suspicious:

  1. As you describe it a person would be stateless between the required renunciation of citizenship in the old country and the naturalization ceremony in the new country. If what you’re saying is true it would be very common for people immigrating from one country to another to be citizens of no country for a period of time. I believe that in fact it is very rare for someone to become stateless by renouncing citizenship, but you are indirectly claiming its a common occurrence.

  2. The new country is in effect demanding the person perform a relatively rare and complex bureaucratic procedure with the old country, which may be a disorganized third world mess. It wouldn’t surprise me if such a policy would in effect deny naturalization to people from many countries, simply because there is no practical way to produce such a form from that country’s crumbling infrastructure.

  3. How would the new country know what the list of “any other nations you hold citizenship in” looks like? They’d basically have to take your word for it, unless they planned to poll every single country to ask if you are a citizen. I’d expect in most cases they’d know of at least one citizenship (assuming at some point you entered the new country on that passport), but that doesn’t mean you don’t have others.

This is going to vary by country of course but for the USA yes they used to require it.

And you are correct that the country you naturalize in has no way of knowing for sure, which is what eventually lead to the USA to soften up on it to the point they don’t recognize it but won’t pursue it.

Did they? I’m having trouble finding the part in your cite where the USA would “require you to produce a form from any other nations you hold citizenship in saying ok this guy is no longer a citizen”. I believe what the second paragraph of your quotation is referring to is the wording of the naturalization oath.

How else would you do it except to require proof(a form or certificate) from the nation/s you hold citizenship in?

I have heard from people that went through the process that is indeed how it worked, poorer nations at the time had so many requests from citizens naturalizing in the USA it was a routine thing not a big ordeal.

I find it hard to believe people in large numbers would renounce a citizenship as a prerequisite to gaining citizenship elsewhere. They would be without citizenship for a period of time as a result. And what if your citizenship application was denied? You would have no country permanently.

I’d find it easier to believe that they once required a form that stated they’d lose their old citizenship upon gaining the new one, since some countries do actually have that policy. But not all do, so once again that would be hard to do without introducing the stateless issue at least for some people.

The quote above is not referring to a requirement that a form is provided by the old country, nor it is indirectly implying it. If it is it is factually incorrect since no such requirement is “left in place”. I believe your cite to be factually correct, but only because it is referring to the oath wording.

This absolutely did used to be how it worked in the USA and they apparently did enforce it, that is not the case now which what the quoted text refers to.

Unless a country wants to spend an inordinate amount of time spying on its citizens, I imagine it would work like this: they tell you you must give up your other citizenship(s), you say ok, they take your word for it unless they catch you doing something that demonstrates you’re still actively availing of your other citizenship(s), like applying for or travelling on another country’s passport. Sort of like the way they ensure that people they’ve recognised as refugees aren’t continuing to avail of their country of origin’s protection.

They can’t, in practice, because who is a citizen is up to the states, not the people. A country could unilaterally declare you a citizen and there’s nothing you could do about it. If you ever visited such a country, you could be prevented from leaving, forced to pay income tax on your worldwide income, and/or conscripted into their military. You may think this sounds far-fetched, but apparently it does happen on occasion: the US State Department’s travel advisories for China and North Korea contain warnings to this effect. Needless to say such a country would also refuse to provide you with any sort of letter certifying that you are not a citizen.

It happens quite often. In many places it used to be you just promised to renounce your other citizenship and they didn’t require any proof, but that worked very badly. So now how it’s usually done (e.g. in Hong Kong, many Caribbean countries, I believe in Denmark, etc.):
[li]First you send in your form to apply for your new citizenship, and in the mean time you keep your old citizenship[/li][li]If your application for the new citizenship is denied, you still have your old citizenship.[/li][li]If your application for the new citizenship is accepted, then they give you an “approval in principle” letter.[/li][li]You take that letter to your old country’s consulate, tell them you want to renounce your citizenship.[/li][li]Once you have your renunciation certificate from your old country, you go to your new country’s immigration department and you get your new citizenship immediately.[/li][/ol]

For step #4, many countries’ renunciation laws say that if you renounce to acquire a new citizenship, but you have not acquired any new citizenship within 6 months, then you automatically re-acquire the renounced citizenship. I think this is due to the 1954 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The US is not a signatory to that convention, so they do allow you to renounce and become stateless and don’t give a damn what happens after that.

Theoretically I suppose it’s possible you could complete step #4 and then you’d get denied at step #5. E.g. if you tried to assassinate your new country’s president in the mean time. Don’t know if it’s actually ever occurred.

How is a country going to know where you have citizenship?

Well, typically the first question asked in any passport application is, “Where were you born?” And you need to show some type of official birth document.

That’s probably the BIGGEST clue.

So, if you are in the Netherlands, and you apply for a passport, and you say, “I was born in London,” the clerk will ask to see your birth certificate. You produce one, and the clerk says, “Now I need to see your British passport.”

When you tell the clerk you don’t have one, the clerk will get a little uptight and say, “How did you enter the country?”

Of course, with the EU and the ease of criss-crossing borders, you probably don’t need to show a passport to travel freely.

But I’d say that is the conversation that will trip you up.

That works for certain situations, but as many people have pointed out: there are very many situations that would never work.

  • I was born in the Netherlands. I am British because my parents are British. When my dad went to register my birth, he was automatically asked by the Dutch government if he wanted UK citizenship for me too. He said yes, job done, the Netherlands know. But he could have said no and then got UK citizenship for me at any later date because of parents being British. That way the Netherlands would never know.

  • Equally, if I become Rwandese (because they so graciously offered ;)) it seems unlikely President Kagame would ring up Queen Beatrix to rat me out. The Dutch would simply never know.

  • Then there is the issue of states that don’t allow citizens to renounce citizenship. The Germans may be trying very hard, but they have a sizable population of Moroccans and Morocco doesn’t allow citizens to renounce their citizenship. That seems to be working out anyway.

It seems to me that besides being petty, the law is pretty unenforceable.