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Moving to the UK

US/UK Dual Citizenship Benefits and Disadvantages

Are you wondering if a U.S. citizen is allowed to have dual citizenship with the UK and hold a passport in both countries? What if you decide to move to the UK.  Will you still be able to keep the advantages of American citizenship?

The United Kingdom and the United States BOTH allow dual citizenship.

Here’s what you need to know about holding citizenship in both countries, as well as the benefits and disadvantages of US/UK dual citizenship.

US/UK dual citizenship

UK Citizens May Hold Dual Citizenship

UK citizens are allowed to hold dual citizenship or nationality. If you’re already a British citizen you can apply to be a citizen of another country at any time. There’s no separate application process to be a dual citizen. 

If you’re born in the UK you’re considered a British citizen. 

  • If you weren’t born in the UK you may also apply for UK residency through your birth parents if conditions apply or by obtaining the right to remain.
  • Although it’s possible to have citizenship revoked under certain circumstances, it’s not common.
  • UK citizens are free to enter, leave, live and work in the UK indefinitely.
  • Find out if you can qualify to become a UK citizen

You can apply for a UK passport if you qualify as a British national.

U.S. Citizens May Hold Dual Citizenship

Dual nationality or citizenship is also allowed for US citizens.

You’ll still be entitled to your U.S. citizenship even if you become a naturalized ( a citizen) of another country, are employed in another country or vote in a foreign election. 

If you’re born in the U.S. you’re an American citizen (with the exception of being a child of a foreign diplomat).

  • Citizens of other countries who weren’t born in the US may also be entitled to US citizenship through lawful immigration.
  • When you enter the US you must use your US passport even if you’re a dual national.
  • Although US immigration may revoke a naturalized citizenship for a crime such as treason, it’s not common.
  • US citizenship is for life, unless you renounce it.

To be eligible for a U.S. passport, you need to be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a qualifying U.S. national.

Benefits of US/UK Dual Citizenship

  • Ease of travel between both borders without time limits or restrictions.
  • Free healthcare through the NHS as well as free prescriptions over 60
  • Depending on age or employer, eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid or paid plans in the US
  • Right to retain pensions in either country
  • The right to work without needing a work permit or visa
  • Rent or buy a home or assets in either country
  • Vote in either country

us/uk dual citizenship

Disadvantages of Dual US/UK citizenship

  • US citizens are required to pay US taxes for life regardless of where they live
  • You may be required to pay US taxes on both US and UK income
  • You’ll be required to uphold laws in both countries
  • UK citizen aren’t entitled to diplomatic help from the UK embassy while in the US
  • No reciprocity between the UK and US for driving licenses. After 12 months living full time in the UK to continue to drive you’re required to obtain a UK driving license 
  • You may have to build a separate credit rating in both countries

My US/UK Dual Citizen Experience

I was born in England and emigrated to Canada with my parents. I became a Canadian citizen on my mothers Canadian passport.

Once we moved to the US, I had resident alien status until applying for US citizenship. At the time I was told I had to forfeit my Canadian passport – laws may have changed since then.

On moving back to England, I had to apply for a British passport because I’d never been issued one. My American born son was able to apply for citizenship on my birth record under the first generation rule.

 

Get Specialized Travel advice on Moving to the UK

 

16 Comments

  • George Gibson
    August 31, 2022 at 3:46 PM

    I was born in Scotland and my parents brought me to the U.S. at 5 yrs old. I have my Scottish birth certificate. I became a U.S. citizen at 18. What is the best and fastest process to get duel citizenship and who do I contact?

    Reply
    • Tessa
      September 1, 2022 at 10:25 AM

      Hi George – your story is similar to mine. Start here with the application process.

      I applied for a British passport once I was living here and had to go into the Home Office in London to finish the application process. That may have changed in the last couple of years so please check for yourself. From start to finish it took me less than 6 weeks to get my British passport.

      Reply
      • Mike
        September 6, 2022 at 5:31 AM

        HM Passport Office has a good on-line passport application process. I was born in the UK before 1983. You apply on-line and submit paper documents as proof of citizenship and identity. The most important documents are your UK birth record (no copies), hospital birth record, copy of US passport (hopefully it says UK as birth location). I had to use Ancestry.com to get the UK birth record. I used the US State Department to get a certified copy of my Consular Report of Birth. Other on-Line features are submission of passport photo and corroboration of identity by third party.

        If you have everything, it should go smoothly. I was told 13 weeks and it took 6 weeks. I never visited any UK offices or talked to anyone via phone or e-mail. The passport process itself cost $150. The birth record was about $75, the Consular Report another $50. Add in the delivery fees. I probably spent close to $400 total.

        I had a fairly clear cut case for already being a UK citizen. The birth record was definitive. The other documents, in my opinion, were in the process to prove that I was the same person born in the UK before 1983. My status was not dependent on anyone else. My assumption is that HM Office can access US State Dept records. Having a US passport listing UK birth likely helped. The process likely gets longer if the office has to verify your status and the status of parents plus your time in the UK.

      • Tessa
        September 6, 2022 at 12:37 PM

        Thanks for letting us know about your experience Mike.

  • Michelle
    August 10, 2022 at 5:55 PM

    My father was born in the US, but my grandmother and all her ancestors are all from Cambridge. Am I eligible for dual citizenship or does it need to be parent who was born in the UK?

    Reply
  • Mandy
    July 24, 2022 at 7:00 AM

    My mother was born in Scotland and immigrated with her family at age 15. I’m not sure when she became an American citizen, although it was as an adult in her 20’s I believe. Am I eligible to become a dual citizen still? I am American born in ’71 and am interested in dual citizenship in both the US and UK.
    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • Tessa
      July 25, 2022 at 10:23 AM

      Hi Mandy – yes I believe you would be eligible for UK citizenship on your mothers birth record. It wouldn’t matter when she became an American citizen, it would be based on the year she was born.

      Reply
  • Alexandra Whitelock
    July 4, 2022 at 3:17 PM

    I am retired. Father was a british citizen. I am considering relocating …I live in investments…does the UK affect/limit my continuing to do this? Thank you

    Reply
    • Tessa
      July 4, 2022 at 4:30 PM

      That’s really a question for a tax advisor, but you’re right to be asking this as it’s complicated! I suggest joining the “Americans in England – a helpful expat group” on Facebook to see what comes up.

      Reply
  • Roxanne Ford
    July 1, 2022 at 7:07 PM

    Hi Tessa, I was born in the UK in the 1970’s. My birth certificate is US Citizen born abroad. I have America. Parents. Do you think I can apply for a British Passport or dual citizenship?

    Reply
    • Tessa
      July 4, 2022 at 9:43 AM

      Hi Roxanne – according to Gov.uk if you’re born in the UK or a British colony before Jan 1 1983 you’re automatically a British citizen with two exceptions
      So you should be eligible for a British passport and if your parents are American I’m sure you have rights to a US passport if you don’t already have one. So yes you would be eligible for dual citizenship.

      Reply
  • D Bellak
    June 14, 2022 at 8:03 AM

    In above article, living in England is discussed. However I wish to live in Scotland. Can you explain, how to go about this?

    Reply
    • Tessa
      June 15, 2022 at 12:23 PM

      UK citizenship allows you to live in any part of the UK, and as Scotland is (still) part of the UK, the same rules would apply to living there!

      Reply
    • Sandra Bain
      September 6, 2022 at 10:34 AM

      Hi Tessa, My mum was born in america to scottish parents.They came back to scotland to live when my mum was 13 in 1937.Would I be entitled to dual nationality?

      Reply
      • Tessa
        September 6, 2022 at 12:44 PM

        Hi Sandra – unfortunately UK born grandparents don’t qualify you for a UK passport. But you can check here to see if there’s any exception in your case. Good luck!

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