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Do you have to renounce your citizenship?

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So, you’re telling me that you want to be a dual citizen?  Philippines and US, UK, Australia, or whatever country you are from?  Sorry, Charlie, you can’t do it.

Why not?

OK, I know, both your country and the Philippines allow Dual Citizenship, right?  Yes, they do in most cases.  In my case, I am an American Citizen.  I was born in the USA and have been an American Citizen since birth.  The USA allows Dual Citizenship, it is not illegal in any way.  Some people will tell you that the USA does not allow Dual Citizenship, or that the US frowns on it.  It is not true.

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In 1967 the US Supreme Court heard a case called Afroyim v. Rusk in which they ruled that a US Citizen cannot be deprived of citizenship of another country.  Since that time, the US has allowed Dual Citizenship, so that is no problem.  So, there is no question, the USA (and most countries these days) allows Dual Citizenship.

In 2003 the Philippines passed the Philippine Dual Citizenship law.  This law allows that Natural Born Philippine Citizens may re-acquire their Philippine Citizenship if they have relinquished that citizenship in order to become naturalized in another country. So, for example, when my wife became a US citizen back in the 90s, part of becoming a US citizenship is that you are renouncing your citizenship in all other countries.  So, at that time, when she took the oath of citizenship in the USA, she relinquished her Philippine Citizenship.

However, in 2003, when the Philippines passed its Dual Citizenship law it instantly became possible for my wife to re-acquire her Philippine Citizenship while still keeping her US citizenship as well.  She did it, and she is now a Dual Citizen.

So, why can’t foreigners be dual citizens?

CitizenshipWell, it gets a bit tricky here.  Many people will argue that foreigners can indeed become dual citizens in the Philippines, but legally that is invorrect.

The law of Philippine Naturalization requires that any person being naturalized as a citizen of the Philippines must renounce their foreign citizenship in order to become a Philippine Citizen.

What about the Philippine Dual Citizenship law?  Well, as I said, it only applies to natural born citizens of the Philippines.  It does not apply to people who become naturalized in the Philippines.  So, you MUST renounce your foreign citizenship in order to become a Philippine Citizen.

Isn’t there a tricky way around this?

Well, that is what people argue, and truth is, it can be done, but not legally.

You see, under US law (and many other countries are similar), if you raise your right hand and say “I hereby renounce my US citizenship” you have not renounced your citizenship at all.  In order to actually renounce US citizenship you must go to either the US State Department in Washington DC, or you must go to a US Embassy anywhere in the world, and formally renounce your citizenship.  It is not a process that takes 5 or 10 minutes, it is actually very complicated. There are fees that you must pay to renounce, there will be an investigation to make sure that all of your taxes are paid up to date, etc.  So, this takes time and is complicated.

Many people will tell you that if you just go for your swearing in of Philippine Citizenship and raise your hand ans swear that you are renouncing your US citizenship, you have met the Philippine requirements, but the US does not consider that to be renouncing, so you are a dual citizen.  Again.. sorry, this is not legal.  I mean you can do it, but you will lose your Philippine Citizenship if it is ever looked into because you did not meet the Philippine requirements to become a citizen. Will that happen?  Unlikely.  It is likely that you will be considered by many to be a dual citizen.

However, if you do that, think about this…

If you want to become a citizen of the Philippines, that must mean that you truly love the country.  However, the first act that you are taking in becoming a citizen is to break Philippine law.  Is that the way it should be?  If you love the country so much that you wish to be a citizen, you should, in my view, follow the laws of the country and do it properly.

Am I right or wrong?

Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to be a citizen of the Philippines.  I went so far as to go to the Bureau of Immigration and picked up an application for Citizenship.  I then went an sat down with an Attorney here in Davao.  He did some legal research for me, and he laid this all out for me about citizenship, and he explained in great detail the entire process, and what commitments I would be making.  He told me that it was not adequate to take an action that the US government did not consider as renouncing citizenship.  Under Philippine law, I would be required to actually renounce, not just “pretend to renounce”.

So, I do have a legal opinion on this from a licensed attorney.

In the end, I decided not to move forward, although I still do struggle with it from time to time.  I truly would love to be a citizen of the Philippines… however, I also am not prepared to give up my US citizenship, at least at this time.

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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Cary Hostrawser
Guest

But does he know anyone who has actually been through the process? I’ve wondered if they really check that you’ve gone through the process of renouncing citizenship, or do the same as the USA does, just have you swear you renounce it, which would not be recognized as renouncing US citizenship. Some also argue a Filipino doesn’t actually lose their Philippine citizenship when they become dual with the USA. The law does state a natural born Philippine citizen cannot lose their citizenship, and the requisition process was only written in for those who had lost citizenship before dual was allowed.

Bob Martin
Guest

I personally know two people who have done the process.

Cary Hostrawser
Guest

Did they go to the US embassy and renounce their citizenship with the USA?

Bob Martin
Guest

No, he did not go through the US Embassy, because he is an Austrian citizen. But he did go through the Embassy of his (former) country.

Mike Walsh
Guest

Bob do you know if it was easy to do? As in they met the criteria and his application was granted? How long had they lived in the PH? As there’s a lot of people (I know of) that have waited the 5 years (they are married to a PH citizen) and their applications have been continually denied. I’d love to call the PH home 🙁 it’s a shame it’s not as easy as the Dominican Republic ????

Bob Martin
Guest

It is not difficult, Mike Walsh, but it takes a long time. It took each of my friends more than 7 years to complete the process (after applying). This does not include the 5 year waiting process after moving here. You can call the Philippines home without being a citizen. The Philippines is my home, but I am not a citizen, I am a permanent resident.

Sydney Ellis
Guest
Sydney Ellis

I am also a permanent resident of Philippines but I would not denounce my Australian citizenship for anything and also as an Australian citizen I can get on a plane to Australia anytime.

D. Richard Carlson
Guest
D. Richard Carlson

LOL. Not so easy. I have to do exit process (clearance, if that what we call it, with Bureau of Immigration) when I want to leave the Philippines. If I don’t,anyone can stop me at the airport.

Mike Walsh
Guest

I see. Thanks for the info 🙂 it definitely is. No place like the PH that’s for sure

Bruce Nieman
Guest

How about children Bob born to an a American and Philippine parent? My son was born and lives there with his mother. We registered his birth with US embassy, and obtained his US citizenship. He still has his Philippine citizenship I hope? He was only 2 when we did this and I do not recall his mother, or I renouncing his Philippine citizenship.

Bob Martin
Guest

Hi Bruce – you are now talking about a completely different issue that has nothing to do with the article. I will have another article about dual citizenship for kids coming up soon. Shortly, though, kids born to a family where the father is the citizen of one country and the mother is the citizen of another country are natural born citizens of each country if you file the proper papers.

Byron Watts
Guest

(depending on the laws of each country)

Bob Martin
Guest

Generally, that is incorrect. Even countries that don’t allow for dual citizenship (like Germany) do allow for dual citizenship for children born in those circumstances.

Byron Watts
Guest

…and depending on the laws of the birth country, they could be a citizen of three countries….

Bruce Nieman
Guest

Thanks Bob will keep watching, and reading your articles

Paul Partridge
Guest

Bruce, your question is me. If your son was born in the Philippines to a Philippine Citizen, and after the 1972 constitution, he is a citizen. All he has to do is walk in the Bureau of Immigration and file his application. No special process or papers.

Bob Martin
Guest

I am not certain, but I think that Bruce’s child was born in the USA and he is wanting to know how to get dual citizenship for his child.

Paul Partridge
Guest

Ah. Different animal. But why need to register the birth with the US Embassy if born in the US?

Bob Martin
Guest

But there is a need to register with Philippine consulate to protect the Philippines citizenship.

Doug Thompson
Guest

Thank you for posting the truth, Bob. There is a significant portion of the expat population in the Philippines who think the opposite: they get an email from someone in the US Embassy saying they are not required to renounce US citizenship to become a dual citizen, yet completely ignore the fact that it is PHILIPPINES law that requires renunciation. They are absolutely convinced that they just have to “raise their right hand” during a Philippine ceremony and they’re home free; the US Government won’t know anything. I have actually asked this question of the Bureau of Immigration and was… Read more »

Bob Martin
Guest

Hi Doug – I fully agree with you. There are two laws that I can think of that expats try and try to “get around” in a sneaky way.. owning land here, and citizenship. 🙂

Mel Hill
Guest

Why would a person ever want to get a Filipino. Even with a Filipino citizenship you would never be accepted. Even Filipinos that have been in the states for a long period of time are no longer recognized as Filipinos. The last time my wife and I where back in the PI the women in her home town say she not a Filipino but an American.

Bob Martin
Guest

I would love to be a citizen of the Philippines. It is my home. It his a highly personal choice, Mel. I would never challenge your choice, but I have my own.

Mel Hill
Guest

If you have a Permanent Residence Visa what would the advantage be? Bob

Bob Martin
Guest

The advantage is that it would make me happy. Other than that, I know of none.

Mel Hill
Guest

Illogical!!!! You need to turn the AC on.

Bob Martin
Guest

Nothing at all illogical about it. Was it illogical when your wife became a US citizen? She could live there without it?

Rusty
Guest
Rusty

I’ve heard that even if one goes through the entire process of renouncing ones US citizenship the courts would give it back to you in a heart beat. They want your taxes.

Just declare you were underwater or whatever.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Sorry, Rusty, but that information is incorrect.

Mark
Guest
Mark

If you renounce your citizenship do you lose your ss benefits?

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Mark – I don’t receive any government benefits, so I have never had reason to look into that. It is my understanding, though, that some benefits would be lost and others would not. But, I can’t tell you which ones, sorry, I just don’t know.

Robert Blankenship
Guest
Robert Blankenship

I have been reading these articles for a little while now. I have an interest in this specific subject matter although I will never expect to be a full citizen of the Philippines. I have not moved there yet but I have tentative plans to do so in a couple years after I retire. So I will have some questions before that on what processes I have to go through just to be able to stay in the country for an extended period of time. Thanks for the interesting subjects.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Thank you Robert. I am glad to know that you are enjoying the subjects here on my site!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a citizen to live here! There are many options for a long term stay!

Ken Pilbrow
Guest

Interesting

Bob Martin
Guest

Thanks.

John
Guest
John

Bob I am an Western Citizen. I lived here for 10 years, and recently took Philippine citizenship also. (a) My country (Western) won’t accept citizenship renunciation application, that has to be submitted to the minister, because technically I did not have Philippine citizenship as of yet. (b) When I went to take the Philippine Citizenship requirement checklist, they didn’t ask anything regarding renunciation, I was however made to take an oath of “renouncing ties” to other nations. However, my Western citizenship did not automatically get terminated, because by law I have to pass an application process. I didn’t see any… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

You are making my point, John. You took an oath that you renounced citizenship, but you were lying. Your first act of becoming a Philippine citizen was to break Philippine law. Congratulations.

john
Guest
john

Actually Bob, not lying. I changed my mind not to renounce my first citizenship, for which my fore-bearers died in 2 wars. Also, my country won’t allow for citizenship to be renounced and become stateless. They must see an alternative citizenship. In either case, “oaths” of “renunciation” are done even in the USA, by nationals of other countries and they retain their dual citizenship. It is nothing more than old formality. Unless, they ask for “renunciation” citizenship certificate, it is perfectly legal.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Actually, you did lie. You raised your right hand and swore an oath that you had renounced your citizenship, or at least you said that you did in your previous comment. But, the truth is that you had not done so, which you also admitted in your previous comment. It is perfectly legal in your foreign country, but it is not legal under Philippine law.

john
Guest
john

The oath was , “I renounce all ties”, not “I RENOUNCED all ties”. Please note the difference. It is just a figure of speech. No certificate was asked of me. My wife’s family has many attorneys and judges. I checked with them all. There is no issue. Unless renounciation certificate is asked, it is legally permitted.

Also U.S CITIZENSHIP ceremonies ask that same thing from others, that does not mean other nationalities have to give up their citizenships if they permit dual.

bob
Guest
bob

hello john
did u naturalize filipino?
ive done the application at OSG and in july will apply at RTC
pls reply
i know its old thread

john
Guest
john

I took the oath “I renounce”, not “renounced”. I changed my mind later on, not to. I am free to change my mind. I have had dual citizenship for over 4 years now, and got no issues at the airports presenting both passports.

Polemic
Guest
Polemic

@john, if you’re still following this thread, I’d like to talk to you if that’s okay

Bruce Nieman
Guest

No Bob both my children were born in the Philippines, we went through the process for our son currently going through the process for our daughter at the US Embassy in Manila, I just don’t want them to lose their Philippine citizenship in the process.

Bob Martin
Guest

As long as their mother is Filipino, they cannot lose their Philippine citizenship, because they are natural born citizens.

PapaDuck
Guest
PapaDuck

There is very little benefit to becoming a Philippine Citizen unless it’s just a personal preference.

MindanaoBob
Guest

I know of no “benefit”. However, personal happiness and preference are a benefit for an individual.

john
Guest
john

Had no issues showing both Philippine and Western passport to different immigration officers many times at Ninoy Aquino international airport. They are officers, they know the law.

john
Guest
john

It gives you stronger leverage in the country, than just a visa. Especially if you got family here. I got my wife and kids and properties here. Philippine passport as an add-on, is a good thing. As far as “renunciation oath” is concerned, it is just a figure of speech and old outdated mode of oath taking, even USA does it, that does not mean they REQUIRE a person to renounce citizenship, BEFORE taking up Philippine citizenship, no country will allow any of its person to become stateless through renunciation. There is no requirement for a renunciation certificate. Taking an… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Hi Bob, thank you for the article. If I got this right, I can not get Philippine citizenship even if my country allows dual citizenship but my Filipina wife can get it. Its a strange law

MindanaoBob
Guest

Your understanding is correct Joe.

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