If you’re living some or all of the time in the Philippines, then seeking citizenship of the Philippines could make a lot of sense. Under local law, you’d have the same rights as any other natural born Filipino, so for example, you’re free to travel in and out of the country without having to worry about visas. You're also able to buy land, which is restricted for foreigners. But what if you don’t want to give up your original nationality to become Filipino?
Here’s where it gets tricky. The law of the Philippines doesn’t recognise dual citizenship for non-natives. This means that in most cases, if you want to become an Filipino national, you’re forced to give up your original citizenship.¹ It’s different if you’re born in the Philippines, and then take up a second citizenship elsewhere. In that case, you might be allowed to hold dual citizenship under Philippine law.
Dual citizenship is a complex area - so seek professional advice before you make any decisions. However, to get you started, here’s a beginners guide to the laws concerning dual citizenship in the Philippines.
This depends on whether you’re a natural born Filipino or not. Foreigners who want to become Filipino must renounce their original citizenship before they’re considered to be Filipino. That means that a foreigner can’t have dual citizenship with the Philippines.
However, if you were born in the Philippines or in most cases, if your parents are natural born Filipinos, but you were born elsewhere, you get the right to citizenship of the Philippines automatically.¹ This can apply even if you’ve already naturalised as a citizen elsewhere and renounced your citizenship. Under a law known as R.A.9225, natural born Filipinos who lost their citizenship when they naturalised as citizens in other countries, can apply to have their Filipino nationality reinstated.¹ In effect this means that you can hold dual citizenship - but only if you’re considered to be Filipino by birth.
The Philippines doesn’t allow dual citizenship for people who aren’t natural born Filipinos.That’s because you’re asked to be entirely loyal to the Philippines if you’re a citizen, and this is considered to be incompatible with dual nationality - for foreigners at least.
There aren’t any schemes which are a direct replacement for citizenship. However, there are some good, and fairly flexible long term visa options available which could be a good choice - for example if you want to retire in the Philippines.
If I become a citizen of the Philippines, can they legally force me to give up my other passport/nationality?
Theoretically you must renounce your other nationality when you become a Filipino, if you’re taking on Philippine citizenship through naturalisation. You have to commit to being loyal to the Philippines, and this is seen as something you simply can’t achieve if you’re also equally loyal to your place of birth.
Online commentators do discuss how you can take up citizenship of the Philippines without ever carrying out the full legal duties required by your home country to renounce your citizenship. That’s because some countries consider that people who acquired citizenship by birth can never lose it. Other countries make it quite a complex and lengthy process to renounce your citizenship.
That means that acting as a de facto dual citizen, and holding two passports, for example, could be possible - but might very well be illegal. It could land you in trouble with both your home country and the Philippine authorities. Take legal advice before you make any decisions in this regard.
If a child has Filipino citizenship by birth - because either the child or the parents are natural born Filipinos, then he or she can apply to retain or reinstate their Filipino citizenship at any time. It’s possible to hold dual citizenship in this circumstance, so there's no need to choose which citizenship to keep. This is the same even if a child is born and brought up outside of the Philippines, under the law known as R.A. 9225.¹
You can choose to renounce your Filipino citizenship, for example if you take on another nationality through naturalisation.
Otherwise you can be stripped of your Filipino citizenship if you serve another government, for example by being in their military, or if you sign up to the Philippine army and subsequently desert during wartime.²This area is pretty complex and there are exceptions to the rules, so if you're worried about the possibility of losing your citizenship it's worth taking legal advice.
When you give up your Filipino citizenship you'll no longer be entitled to support from the Philippine Embassy if you're abroad. You'll be subject to the laws of your new state, so you might have to do military service, serve on a jury, and so on - the same as any other citizen.
If you give up your Filipino citizenship then you're treated as a foreigner when you visit the Philippines. The same rules will apply for you as for any other citizen of your adopted country, including visa requirements.
What sort of penalties or repercussions can you expect to face when you go back to the Philippines but no longer have citizenship?
The are no penalties as such. However when you return to the Philippines, the rules of your new country of citizenship will apply. So that means you might need a visa to enter the country or other permits to live and work there in the longer term.
Ever since 2003 it's been possible to reclaim your Filipino citizenship if you're a natural born Filipino.¹ That means that you can apply to reinstate your citizenship if you want to, even after naturalising as a citizen of a different country.
There are several steps to becoming a Filipino citizen. The exact process you follow will depend on whether you're a foreigner acquiring citizenship through naturalisation, or a natural born Filipino reclaiming your citizenship after revoking it.
The steps you're likely to have to take include the following:³
- Check you're eligible for citizenship
- Complete the application including all required documentation
- Pay your fee - to reacquire citizenship this can be as little as USD 50, but the fees are higher if you're becoming Filipino through naturalisation. There may also be a requirement to invest in the country before you can naturalise
- Swear an oath of allegiance to the country
- Receive documentary proof of your citizenship and apply for a passport
In most cases you have to have lived in the Philippines for 10 years before your application to become a citizen can be considered.⁴ However this might be shortened if you're married to a Filipino for example, or if you have a business in the country.⁴
Once you have decided to apply for citizenship you have to declare your intention to do so up to a year before actually submitting your application.⁴ You should be told at this stage if there's a problem with your application or any reason why you're not eligible. It'll then take a couple of months after this waiting period, to review and assess your application paperwork.
If I’m giving up one of my citizenships, do I need to inform both countries that I have terminated my rights as a citizen? Or do the countries themselves do that?
This depends on the country you come from. Most likely you'll have to complete a formal process to renounce your original citizenship properly. Usually you can do this through your local embassy or consulate, but there may be fees to pay. Check with your local embassy or an immigration lawyer to make sure you know your obligations.
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If you live and work abroad, or travel regularly between different countries, life can get pretty complicated. And questions of citizenship aren't the only practical headache. Another big issue for many people, is the cost of everyday banking. You can lose out especially if you have to move your money between bank accounts held in different countries and currencies.
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But, while many banks and money transfer services claim that they’ll exchange your cash for free, or for a low fee, they often don’t offer customers the real exchange rate. Instead they mark up the rate, by up to 5%, and keep the difference as profit. With TransferWise, you just pay a transparent upfront charge, for a transfer using the real exchange rate, and no nasty surprises.
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If dual citizenship is on your radar then you’re probably someone who travels frequently, or lives and works abroad. Does this sound like you? Then you’ll know how important it is to find practical solutions to make your money work for you. If you spend your time moving between different countries, you could end up paying over the odds unnecessarily for day to day banking.
That’s where the TransferWise multi-currency borderless account can help. Traditional banks aren’t set up to serve international people. But TransferWise knows you need your money to be as flexible as you are. A borderless account lets your money move with you, with fair exchange rates and transparent fees - so you can just get on with enjoying life.
Sources: 1. http://www.immigration.gov.ph/faqs/citizenship ( October 11,2018 ) 2. https://www.lawphil.net/statutes/comacts/ca_63_1936.html ( October 11,2018 ) 3. http://www.jeddahpcg.dfa.gov.ph/citizenship-retention-and-reacquisition-of-2003-ra-9225 ( October 11,2018 ) 4. https://www.lawphil.net/statutes/comacts/ca_473_1939.html ( October 11,2018 )
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