As an EU citizen who's lived in the UK for 8 years, I am considering applying for British citizenship.

My birth country currently allows dual citizenship, but is considering outlawing this. While this is unlikely to happen, I do wonder what would happen if they did.

Could I lose my birth country's citizenship if I legally acquired dual citizenship before this was outlawed? And is there any precedent for this?

As a bonus/follow-up question, which is more country specific: If at some point in the future I had to choose between the two nationalities, I'd be inclined to keep my birth country's citizenship (as I would rather not lose the rights that come with a EU passport). However, if I lost my UK passport I'd probably be residing in the UK illegally - as I would never have obtained the necessary documentation EU nationals without a UK passport will need to stay in the UK post-brexit.

Is there any precedent for people losing their citizenship for the country in which they reside, and what would their options be if that happened?


2 Answers 2


Could I lose my birth country's citizenship if I legally acquired dual citizenship before this was outlawed?

Yes, you could, but not necessarily.

The law outlawing dual citizenship will have some provision for those who have dual citizenship at the time it takes effect. It could be that those people immediately lose their citizenship in the country passing the law, or it could be that they have a certain amount of time to renounce other citizenships in order to retain dual citizenship. The latter seems more likely.

In addition, most countries that outlaw dual citizenship have exceptions, and you might fall under one of the exceptions.

And is there any precedent for this?

No, because the only precedent that would matter would be precedent established in the law of your birth country, which presumably has never before had to decide what to do with dual citizens when enacting a law forbidding dual citizenship.

Is there any precedent for people losing their citizenship for the country in which they reside, and what would their options be if that happened?

The precedent I'm most familiar with is Jews in Germany in 1935, which is, thankfully, not relevant here, but it surely was a major factor in the inclusion of a right to nationality in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To lose British citizenship, you would have to renounce it. Even if you do this after Brexit, you still might be able to assert your rights as an EU citizen who lived in Europe before Brexit, because EU rights typically depend on facts, not the acquisition of a specific document. But nobody knows for sure, because the system to be put in place is still under negotiation, and the laws have not yet been written.


In case the country is Germany, here's the last official statement from the German Embassy in London that I have seen: "We don't know". In the case of the Netherlands, getting UK citizenship means your Dutch citizenship is gone.

If you are an EU citizen who lived and worked in the UK for five consecutive years at some point and didn't leave the country for two years, then you have indefinite leave to remain, you just need to fill out the right forms to get a document saying so. You'll be able to change this for free to May's new "settled status" document. And you need this document first if you want to apply for UK citizenship (no UK citizenship without leave to remain document), so I would do this with some slight sense of urgency to have it all lined up when you need it.

Repeat after me: You are not going to get a UK citizenship without getting settled status first. So you can't get dual citizenship without getting settled status, and therefore you can't lose one citizenship without first getting settled status.

PS. I can't see any reason why Belgium would make it harder in the future to have dual citizenship. Germany is different, because the laws allow you to keep German citizenship if you gain another EU citizenship, and when the law was created, nobody expected the situation that we will have soon, where UK citizenship currently is an EU citizenship, and some time in the future it won't be an EU citizenship anymore.

  • None of this answers my question. Regarding your first paragraph, the country in question is Belgium, which currently allows dual citizenship. But that's irrelevant to my question, which is what would happen if I legally acquired dual citizenship and then the law changed. And I was wondering if any country had ever gone through that. Your second paragraph talks about applying for settled status, which I won't need to do if I've got dual citizenship.
    – roxy-k
    Apr 13, 2018 at 18:25
  • 1
    @roxy-k Gnasher's point is that you won't get citizenship without ILR/settled-status. Apr 13, 2018 at 19:30
  • @MartinBonner but the question it an interesting one: whether someone who became a British citizen before Brexit and then renounced that citizenship after Brexit could rely on any transitional provisions for EU citizens after renunciation. It would probably depend on how the provisions are worded: if it depended on having "permanent residence" on a certain date, for example, and the date falls in the period when the person was a British citizen, the person might be out of luck.
    – phoog
    Apr 14, 2018 at 16:03
  • @phoog You can lose "permanent residence", by leaving the UK for two years, and I think by committing some serious crimes. Since it is very, very difficult to get UK citizenship taken away, the UK might argue that at the moment you gain UK citizenship, you lose "permanent residence" and gain UK citizenship rights. But most likely nobody ever thought about this.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 15, 2018 at 14:23
  • @gnasher729 I doubt it's necessary to argue that one loses permanent residence at the moment of gaining UK citizenship, but, Brexit aside, one could also easily argue that according to its definition in the directive one would immediately resume it on renouncing British citizenship because the person would be a union citizen who had "resided legally for a continuous period of 5 years." The problem with Brexit is that we don't know how any transitional provision will be constructed.
    – phoog
    Apr 15, 2018 at 16:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.