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World Citizen
September 12, 2010 8:21 PM   Subscribe

Earlier today there was a question about being born in the UK and citizenship. Now I'm curious...my mother is English, my father is Dutch, I was born in Canada (while my parents were living there), and I'm a naturalized US citizen. If for some reason I ever wanted to do so, which countries (if any) could I try to claim citizenship in?

As far as I know I'm not in any danger of moving, but it's always nice to have options.
posted by maxwelton to Law & Government (24 answers total)
 
If you were born in Canada to two parents who were not present for diplomatic reasons, then you are a Canadian citizen. So far as I can tell, Canada does not automatically revoke citizenship (a la Germany) for being naturalized in another country without prior permission.

If your mother was British by birth or naturalization (that is, not solely by descent) and you were born after 1982, then you are automatically a British citizen by descent. Should your birthday be prior to 1983 then you will have to undertake some additional steps to claim your citizenship.

I know squat all about Dutch citizenship, so hopefully someone else can help there. That said, the Law Offices of Wikipedia, Esq. say that if you were born before 1985 to a Dutch father (who acknowledged you as his child) then you are a Dutch citizen.

Of the three, I'd look into the Dutch, British, and then Canadian citizenship paths in that order. Having the first two passports will get you in and around the Schengen Area (Dutch) and the Commonwealth nations and territories (British), the latter of which includes Canada.

Good luck!
posted by fireoyster at 8:37 PM on September 12, 2010


I was born in the late 1960s. My mother is British by birth, same with my father. I was ten (?) when I became a naturalized US citizen, and currently carry a US passport.

Thanks for the info!
posted by maxwelton at 9:11 PM on September 12, 2010


Er, my father is Dutch by birth.
posted by maxwelton at 9:11 PM on September 12, 2010


You are almost certainly unable to claim British citizenship. My mother is from Scotland, and when we tried to get my passport, they refused it. Had my *father* been a Brit or had I been born later (I was born in '75), it's possible. But with just my mother? No.

Curiously, I *do* qualify for Irish citizenship though. My mother's mother was born in Belfast (yes, part of the UK today) in 1908 (before the partition) and the Irish government both considers her to be Irish (!) as well as her grandchildren (!!).

Both my brother and sister applied and received their Irish citizenship and passports this way, and since this was done before their children were born, they are also entitled to Irish citizenship. I already have two kids and have not yet applied, and they will not get Irish citizenship. But hey, they already have dual US/Korean citizenship, so that should be enough for now.

I love this modern world.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:53 PM on September 12, 2010


Whoops, misread the OP's comments; you said your Father is British. You should be able to claim UK citizenship through him. But not through Mum.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:54 PM on September 12, 2010


Dang! Seriously have to drink more coffee. Dutch dad: no UK citizenship for you.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:55 PM on September 12, 2010


I have Dutch citizenship, and know a thing or two about it: you can absolutely claim it based on your story. It's also not much hassle (I did it several years ago)... contact an embassy or consulate and they'll put you on the path.
posted by zvs at 10:14 PM on September 12, 2010


(Unless your father renounced or lost Dutch citizenship -- say, by naturalizing in Canada -- before your birth.)
posted by zvs at 10:14 PM on September 12, 2010


Whoops, on reread -- it also depends on your age. If you're over 35 you might not be eligible, depending on when you naturalized. Sounds like your story is pretty confusing, so I'd advise you to stop listening to us and ask the very helpful folks at http://dc.the-netherlands.org/ -- they answer email.
posted by zvs at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2010


I don't think holterbarbour is correct about your being unable to claim British citizenship. I've just moved house so don't have the papers (specifically, a passport application form) but imo you are automatically British by having a British mother and can get a UK passport on that basis. You can print get the UK passport application form online (I'm too lazy to look for it right now) and it will have the details.
posted by anadem at 10:20 PM on September 12, 2010


zvs, I'm not sure when and where my father may or may not have naturalized his citizenship, I'll ask if I remember next time we chat.

This is all quite fascinating. I'm sure the state department would probably look askance at a portfolio of passports (as would each of the individual countries, I imagine) so I'll just keep this in my pocket as idle-daydream fodder for the next time something particularly facepalmy happens stateside.
posted by maxwelton at 10:36 PM on September 12, 2010


Max, you'd need to double check on this, but I think that the US only requires American citizens to use our passports when we enter the US. Otherwise, I'm not sure they much care what passport you use.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:43 PM on September 12, 2010


More info on what to do if your mother is British:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/registration/britishmother/
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 11:23 PM on September 12, 2010


Hmm.

Let's try that link again.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 11:24 PM on September 12, 2010


What Holterbarbour says used to be the case but it is no longer true. I think they had to change the law because it was discriminatory; in any event the child of a British mother can now acquire citizenship through descent.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:14 AM on September 13, 2010


I should note if I am eligible for Dutch citizenship I would be one of the few Dutchman not only who does not know a word of his "native" language, but who additionally seems incapable of learning it at all.
posted by maxwelton at 4:04 AM on September 13, 2010


I'm sure the state department would probably look askance at a portfolio of passports (as would each of the individual countries, I imagine)

Lots of people have multiple nationalities, especially as (partially) in your case from birth, but also from naturalization.

The US required that you renounce previous citizenships to the US at the time of naturalization, but does not require that you actually renounce previous citizenships to officials of the original countries, which would for many countries be required to actually sever ties. The US doesn't care what other countries also consider you to be their citizen, so long as you don't do any of a few things that are quite distinct from ordinary life, such as make war against the US or take high political office in Foreignland.

About the only consistent rule I'm aware of for countries that tolerate multiple nationality is that if you're their citizen, they'd like you to enter on their passport.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:52 AM on September 13, 2010


the Netherlands seem to be hardasses about multiple nationality, and I'd bet that you lost any Dutch citizenship you had because of your naturalization in the US.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:59 AM on September 13, 2010


holterbarbour: "You are almost certainly unable to claim British citizenship. My mother is from Scotland, and when we tried to get my passport, they refused it. Had my *father* been a Brit or had I been born later (I was born in '75), it's possible. But with just my mother? No."

You've been through this, so I hesitate to doubt you, but I'm not sure this is correct, or maybe claiming British citizenship through a mother has changed. According to the UK Border Agency, having a mother who has been a British citizen by birth qualifies a child, even if the child was born before 1983. It does require a fee (couple hundred pounds), form UKM, and a background and eligibility investigation, so it's not automatic.
posted by fireoyster at 6:25 AM on September 13, 2010


marmaduke_yaverland: "More info on what to do if your mother is British:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/registration/britishmother/
"

D'oh! Reading is fundamental.

posted by fireoyster at 6:29 AM on September 13, 2010


They must have changed the law in recent years, as joe in australia suggests. I was most definitely rejected...but this was back in the mid 80s, so I figure a change in law since then is very possible. Sorry if I was talking out of my ass there, folks.
posted by holterbarbour at 7:14 AM on September 13, 2010


Having the first two passports will get you in and around the Schengen Area (Dutch) and the Commonwealth nations and territories (British), the latter of which includes Canada.

A UK passport does not give you totally free entry into Canada (or most of the Commonwealth, really - there are benefits to being a former colony but the Commonwealth is a very loose association of states, nothing like Schengen) for the purposes of work or study. Being born in Canada may be enough for citizenship, but it's not entirely certain - there was a big media obsession with these "lost Canadians" awhile back, as many people who assumed they had citizenship by birth in fact did not. Citizenship and Immigration has a handy little self-assessment tool to see if you qualify under the recently amended Citizenship Act.
posted by Kurichina at 7:47 AM on September 13, 2010


I should note if I am eligible for Dutch citizenship I would be one of the few Dutchman not only who does not know a word of his "native" language, but who additionally seems incapable of learning it at all.

Well, that makes two of us. =)
posted by zvs at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2010


This is the official Netherlands government page about citizenship:

http://www.minbuza.nl/en/Services/Consular_Services/Dutch_Nationality

They keep changing the rules and it's fairly confusing so I can't say if you qualify. I'm a dual citizen (along with Canadian, since I was born in Canada to Dutch parents) and I make sure to check the rules every couple of years to see if they've changed what I have to do to keep my dual citizenship (for now, I just need to renew my Dutch passport every ten years, but there used to be a rule about living in the E.U. for at least a year out of every ten year period).
posted by Emanuel at 3:12 PM on September 13, 2010


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