Is it law or SOP that dual citizens can't become President/PM?

Inspired by this thread.

I’m having trouble searching for this as it only finds info on the definition of “natural born” in the US, which AFAIK is mostly a done deal except to Birthers. I am asking about whether a person who is a citizen of a country can become leader if they hold a secondary citizenship (they are otherwise eligible for office), and whether this is a legal requirement (which countries?) or just good practice to “show your commitment” or avoid campaign attacks (justified or not)?

Ted Cruz wants to be President and renounced his Canadian citizenship. The Baltic states have all had Presidents who were partially raised in North America and held citizenship (Adamkus, Lithuania/US, Vīķe-Freiberga, Latvia/Canada, Ilves, Estonia/US). They US renounced their citizenship. It looks to me like those countries may not recognize dual citizenship, but it looks like Ilves was the only one who did so before running for higher office. Nevertheless, does the US, and do other countries make single-citizenship a requirement contingent on holding general or some specific office?

Americans can’t have dual citizenship. On becoming a citizen, one must renounce any previous allegience.

An American going to another country, may retain his/her American citizenship, if the other country allows duality, but it isn’t recognized by the US.

Not quite true. It is true that one must, as part of the oath of citizenship, state to the US Government that one renounces any other citizenships that they have. Whether any other government recognizes this is up to them. Canada doesn’t recognize it - I know a Canadian who became a US citizen. He denounced his Canadianness in front of the US official as required, but Canada still considers him a citizen when he crosses the border back. There is a formal procedure to renounce Canadian citizenship that the Canadian government does recognize, but the US oath does not meet the requirements. Hence, no valid renunciation, you’re still Canadian.

Can we stop repeating this bullshit? This was addressed in the very thread linked in the OP.

Not exactly true. There are all kinds of circumstances. I know a little boy who is a natural-born U.S., Belgian, and Japanese citizen, all at the same time. (He was born in the U.S. to a Belgian father and Japanese mother.) He has all three passports.

I became an American by birth. I became a Canadian by birth. Both citizenships were acquired simultaneously, so it was impossible to renounce the previous allegiance since neither was prior to the other.

Do you have a cite for this? From here, I’m gathering there may be a nuanced difference between “dual citizenship” and “dual nationality” (which I was directed to from [here](Dual Citizenship), under “Dual Citizenship”), but I’m not seeing the substantive distinction.

No it isn’t. One must renounce allegiance to other countries. This is not the same thing. Here is the actual oath:

You can have all the citizenships you want as long as you will swear allegiance to the United States.

Not quite. Dual citizenship, in my circles, for US citizens is not uncommon. Several of my family members even have three citzenships.

Or rather, dual US/other country citizenship is not recognized by the US. It is entirely possible for the United States to consider you (solely) a US citizen, while Canada considers you a Canadian citizen. And that is the situation Ted Cruz was in.

Canada, (and I think most countries) don’t recognize a renunciation of citizenship made as part of US immigration. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, was a dual citizen from birth – US because his mother was American, and Canadian because he was born on Canadian soil, which is another way around the “rules”.

As for the presidency, the only requirement is that one be a “natural-born citizen” of the United States. The precise definition of this term has never been completely clear, but it is generally agreed that this excludes naturalized citizens. (Sorry, Arnold.)

Having a dual citizenship would not exclude one from the presidency, as long as one were a natural-born US citizen.

BTW, well-regarded nutter Boris Johnson, a possible future PM of the UK, has dual US/UK citizenship.

I do hope that when Cruz runs, there arises a well-funded and very loudmouth group of leftists who never stop screaming that he’s not really an Amurrican. :smiley:

The Canadian sovereign is simultaneously the sovereign of many other countries, so it’s not quite multi citizenship, but it is mutli something.

Our previous governor-general, Michaelle Jean, was a dual citizen of France at the time of her appointment, but renounced her French citizenship, interestingly enough, because of complications on the France end rather than the Canadian end. Huh. The bottom line, however is that it didn’t bother Canada from a legal standpoint.

A former potential prime minister, Stephane Dion, is a dual citizen with France. Although he never, thankfully - whoops, GQ so I withdraw the remark - became prime minister, this was never raised as a legal barrier to him becoming PM when he was running as leader of the Liberals.

So, I’m gonna say, no worries from the Canadian standpoint - on a legal standpoint.

Born in America citizen. Have dual citizenship with Australia (by choice).

I researched the topic thoroughly before taking the plunge. At the time a native born US citizen has a constitutional right to dual citizenship, without interference from the government. Apparently several SCOTUS decisions support that assertion. Not so sure if someone who acquires US citizenship has that same right.

The USA is benign to dual citizenship and frowns on its citizens who have dual citizenship. If you do something bad in the other country, the USA is powerless to assist you.

Guess you forgot about the Schwarzenegger Amendment.


We’ve already HAD presidents of the United States who had dual citizenship.

James Buchanan, e.g., was the son of an Irish immigrant father. Under British nationality law as it existed at the time, Buchanan Jr was born a British subject and had no way to renounce that status. (Renunciation of British citizenship was not possible until the Naturalization Act 1870, by which time Buchanan was dead.)

Since he was born in Pennsylvania, he was also a natural-born citizen of the United States.

For another example, James Madison was presented with French citizenship by the Legislative Assembly in 1792 and gratefully accepted it (the same assembly gave it to George Washington as well, although there is no record of Washington’s reply).

I was going to mention Johnson. He was born in New York City (his father was a Briton studying at Columbia) and is therefore entitled to natural-born citizenship.

IANA international citizenship law guy, but I believe at some point (age 20?) Japan will force him to choose to be Japanese OR US/Belgian. US and Belgium don’t care on their end.

My new favorite example: Ihor Kolomoyskyi is from Ukraine, which doesn’t allow dual citizenship by law. But it says nothing about multiple citizenship, so he holds Israel and Cyprus citizenship as well. :slight_smile:

D18, slash2k: thanks for the examples.

In Australia, a foreign citizen can become prime minister…but only for three months at a time.

Australia bans members of Parliament from holding foreign citizenship, and ministers (including the PM) are required to become a member of either house within three months of their appointment.

This even applies when the foreign citizenship is British citizenship despite Australia & the UK sharing the exact same nationality law when the relevant section of the Constitution was written.