Travelers with Dual Nationality

What is Dual Nationality?

Dual nationality means a person is a national of two countries. They have legal rights and obligations in both countries. A person may hold more than two nationalities, and the same guidance generally applies. Having dual nationality has advantages. These include ease of living abroad and access to government programs. But dual nationals should understand the potential legal issues. These can make life and travel more complex.

How Do You Get Dual Nationality?

  • You may knowingly or unknowingly be a national of another country, even if you have not been issued a passport by that country. You may become a dual national of the United States and another country by:
  • Being born in the United States, and subject to the laws thereof, to one or two parents holding a nationality other than United States, with your second nationality based on the other country’s nationality law;
  • Being born outside the United States to one or two U.S. citizen parents, with your second nationality based on the foreign country’s laws; or
  • Naturalizing as a U.S. citizen while keeping the nationality of another country.

Requirements for U.S. Citizens Holding Dual Nationality

While the United States allows for dual (or multiple) nationality, there are some requirements that U.S. citizen dual nationals must follow, regardless of whether they hold another nationality:

  • You must enter and leave the United States on your U.S. passport. You are not allowed to enter on your foreign passport, because U.S. law requires all U.S. citizens to enter and depart the U.S. on a valid U.S. passport. U.S. citizens are not eligible for a U.S. visa.
  • If your child is a citizen of the United States, they are not eligible for a U.S. visa. This is true even if you have not taken steps to document them as a U.S. citizen. If you want to enter or depart the United States with your child who is a U.S. citizen, you must obtain a U.S. passport for your child.
  • You may need to file your U.S. tax returns, even if you do not owe any taxes. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. taxation. You may also need to file a tax return in the State where you were last resident. You may want to consult a tax advisor experienced in dual-national filings.
  • If you have more than $10,000 in overseas bank or brokerage accounts, you may need to fill out the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account (FBAR).

Potential Challenges to Holding Dual Nationality

Different countries have different laws on dual nationality. Some countries may not permit it. Research the laws on dual nationality in your destination before you travel. The Country Information Page for your destination is a helpful resource. You may also check in with the embassy of any country where you have a foreign nationality before you travel. Examples of regulations that may impact dual nationals include:

  • Entry and Exit Requirements: When traveling to a country where you have U.S. and that country’s nationality, you may need to use a passport from that country or show an ID from that country. Some countries impose restrictions on its departing citizens. For example, they may need an exit visa.
  • Exit Bans: Some countries may impose exit bans on dual nationals as an alternative to criminal detention or in civil or familial disputes. Exit bans may also be used coercively on people not facing charges. They can be used to compel an associate or relative under investigation to return from abroad. Those subject to an exit ban may not know how long the restrictions or investigation may continue. Exit bans and lengthy document processing often cause a significant financial burden. This includes unemployment, unexpected living expenses, and fines.
  • Limited U.S. Assistance Abroad: Local authorities may not recognize your U.S. nationality if you are also a national of that country. This is especially true if you did not enter the country using your U.S. passport. Even if dual nationals who are detained ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, U.S. consular officials may not be allowed to access them police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Military Service: Dual nationals may have to do military service in the foreign country where they are a national. This obligation may be imposed immediately upon arrival or when attempting to leave the country.
  • Registration: In some countries, you may be required to register your other nationalities.
  • Prohibition of Dual Nationality: Some countries prohibit dual nationality. You may be forced to give up that country’s nationality if you are also a U.S. national. You could be compelled to do so through a formal act of renunciation. We recommend that you research the dual nationality laws of your countries. This includes countries where you are a dual national, or where you want to naturalize. You can find a list of local attorneys who may be able to assist you on the websites of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, or

Additional Resources

Last Updated: March 11, 2024