by Jen Barnett
How long does it take to get citizenship by naturalization in every country
If you’d like to gain citizenship in a new country, below are some guidelines for how long you’ll need to live there before you apply in some of the most popular countries for American emigrants. That said, money talks, and there are shortcuts to citizenship in many countries for the right price. Sometimes there are also shorter times if you have a parent, spouse, or child who’s a citizen or if you can otherwise apply for citizenship by ancestry.
Again, this only includes how long you need to wait before you can apply for citizenship — the process itself can take months or years, depending on the country. There can also be rules about how much time you need to have spent physically in the country before you apply, and you may need to pass citizenship or language tests. Is it worth it? Here are some of the pros and cons of citizenship vs. residency.
Benefits of citizenship in a country vs. permanent residency
In most cases, we recommend sticking with residency. However, there are some benefits to citizenship.
- Easier to travel and work abroad: With a passport from your new country, you can usually get into other countries more visa-free or with an easier process. This is especially true if your newly adopted country has strong diplomatic ties with others. There aren’t many passports stronger than a U.S. passport, but an EU passport can give you freedom there. If you want to move to a European country with tough visa laws, one recommendation is to use a country like Latvia or Portugal as an easy entry point.
- Security of a permanent home: As a citizen of another nation, you have the right to live and work there indefinitely. This is not always true for permanent residents; some countries have rules and stipulations that could result in your status being revoked (like not spending enough time in the country). You also have a legal safety net if something happens while you’re living abroad and need access to social services or legal protection permanently.
- Tax advantages: Depending on the country, citizens may be able to avoid double taxation if they spend extended periods of time abroad.
- Voting rights and political representation: As a citizen, you can vote in your new country’s general elections, join the military or civil service, and have a say in how your adopted nation is run.
Dual citizenship vs. renouncing U.S. citizenship
Many countries allow Americans to have dual citizenship, which gives you some rights in both countries. Others require you to announce your citizenship. I would think long and hard before I gave up U.S. citizenship, but if you do, here are some benefits.
Benefits of renouncing U.S. citizenship
- Avoidance of U.S. taxes: Depending on the country, renouncing your U.S. citizenship may exempt you from paying taxes to the United States on income earned inside and outside of the U.S., though there are certain exceptions; it’s always best to consult an accountant or lawyer if this is a concern for you.
- End to reporting requirements: If you have assets overseas, renouncing your American citizenship means that you no longer need to file a foreign bank account report (FBAR), which requires all Americans with more than $10,000 worth of money in offshore accounts to report them yearly.
Some countries don’t allow dual citizenship, so you’ll be required to renounce if you choose citizenship there. Others allow dual citizenship under certain circumstances (usually $$$). Laws are complex, and we recommend finding a good immigration attorney. We have a few linked under Resources in the menu above. Here’s a great guide to some of the laws about dual citizenship.
We’ve done our best to find accurate info for each country. Conflicting information about immigration abounds, even among reputable sites. Spot an error? Email email@example.com.