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Moving to the UK

US/UK Dual Citizenship Benefits and Disadvantages

us/uk dual citizenship benefits

Is a U.S. citizen allowed to have dual citizenship with the UK and hold a passport in both countries? If you decide to move to the UK will you still be able to keep your U.S. citizenship advantages?

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

Here’s what to know about citizenship in both countries and US/UK dual citizenship benefits and disadvantages.

British citizens who want 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 are 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.

U.S. citizens who want dual citizenship

Dual nationality or citizenship is allowed for US citizens. You may be naturalized (be a citizen), employed in another country or vote in a foreign election and you will still be entitled to your U.S. citizenship. 

If you’re born in the U.S. you are an American citizen unless you’re a child of a foreign diplomat. You can apply for a U.S. passport by presenting an original birth certificate showing you were born in the US.

  • 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.

Benefits of Dual US/UK citizenship

  • ease of travel between both countries without visas or time restrictions
  • eligibility for free healthcare through the NHS as well as free prescriptions over 60
  • possible eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid or paid plans in the US
  • right to retain pensions in either country
  • enjoy 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

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 your US and UK income
  • you’ll be required to uphold laws in both countries
  • as a UK citizen you won’t be entitled to diplomatic help from the UK embassy while in the US
  • there is no reciprocity between the UK and US driving license standards. You’ll be required to obtain a UK driving license after 12 months living full time in the UK
  • 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 at a young age. I became a Canadian citizen and was on my mothers Canadian passport.

Once we moved to the US, I had resident alien status until I applied for US citizenship. Once I became a US citizen I was told I had to forfeit my Canadian passport although 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 even before I had applied for a passport.

 

Get specialized travel advice on how to move or travel to the UK!

 

10 Comments

  • 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

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