The pros and cons of dual citizenship #travel

I’m a proud New Zealander – a rugby-mad Kiwi bloke who loves “fush and chups”, jandals, baches, hakas and gumboots. I’m also as British as Stephen Fry walking a corgi outside Buckingham Palace.

But I didn’t need the How British Are You? quiz at BuzzFeed to tell me that, because I’m the proud owner of not one but two passports – a New Zealand one and a British one (my dear old mum was born in England). That’s right. I have dual citizenship.

But it’s not all fun and games (or, in this case, Union Jacks and fluffy white sheep). These are the pros and cons of having dual citizenship in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Me at the Royal Wedding in London, 2011

The perks of being a dual British/Kiwi citizen

  • Having two passports means I get to pretend I’m a spy. “Which identity will I use this time?” I ask myself before I land in a new country. “The rugby-mad Kiwi or the overly polite Brit?”
  • I get to live anywhere in the European Union, or in Australia or New Zealand. That’s the obvious benefit, I suppose – but I still think playing spy is the number-one benefit of dual citizenship.
  • It’s great for winding up my British mates. “I’m as British as you are, bro!” That’s what I like to say to my English friends every time they hassle the way I say fish and chips.
  • Sometimes in Southeast Asia it’s cheaper to cross the border from one country into another if you’re a New Zealand – or vice versa. It’s another opportunity to play secret spy.
  • It was kind of funny the time I had my passport stolen in Spain (that’s obviously not the funny part) and when I went to the British Embassy to get another one the guy behind the counter told me I was in the wrong building – the Australian Embassy was next door.
  • If I was any good at rugby but not good enough to play for the All Blacks, I’d be a certain starter for the English side.

The bad things about dual citizenship

  • When I applied for a new British passport in Spain I had to tick a box that said, and I paraphrase here: “by applying for a new British passport you agree that, if deemed necessary by law, you’ll swear allegiance only to Blighty and cast off all other nationalities”. Scary. Here’s hoping for both New Zealand’s and my sake that we’re never on opposing sides of a war.
  • I had a weird little run in with the UK Border Agency in Calais, France, before I caught the ferry back to England. The grumpy old man behind the counter asked me which team I supported – England or the All Blacks. Thinking it was a joke, I answered the latter. “So you’re just English by convenience are you?” he spat. Lovely chap.
  • When you have two passports that’s one more that you’ve got to renew when it expires and one more you’ve got to keep safe.
  • My wife and I have to split up at immigration in most European countries – I have to join the British/European line and she has to join the one that says “Other”. But at least we know how to queue really well in the British line.
About Simon Petersen 315 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

7 Comments

  1. Playing spy is definitely the hands-down winner! 😀 One day I’ll have dual citizenship, most likely in the States and Indonesia. When I lived in Japan I wanted to apply to become a citizen however as that country (and many others) do not allow dual citizenship, I would have had to denounce America and destroy that passport. As much as I make fun of Americans and know I will never return to that country I also realize that an American passport makes it incredibly easy to travel the world. Most places I don’t even need a visa, or if I do can simply get a VOA. This goes incredibly well with my style as I never know where I will be next week and am notorious for booking international flights the day of.

  2. My husband and I are both dual Australian and British citizens. He had problems entering America when they asked for both passports. His hair, facial hair & weight were different in each passport photo so that carted him off for questioning!

    There was also the incident where a flight exiting Australia was booked under my British passport, which obviously had no Australian visa in it. I was almost not allowed to fly and learned my lesson about being careful!

  3. I have a USA passport but was born in Europe. Always wondered if I should pursue dual passports. Something to further research and thank you for the intro lesson.

  4. Haha love the list! I also have the British / NZ passport combo and agree with a lot of these… especially the playing spy part 🙂 I generally travel with my friends who are on Kiwi passports so on arriving back to London I always get to speed through the line – I tease them that I’m so VIP! I did also find that citizenship declaration a bit scary though… and if tested on my rugby affiliation there’s no question I’m an AB’s supporter through and through!

  5. I am also a dual citizen with two passports, USA and New Zealand. We generally travel on our NZ passports, but need the US passport if we are going in our out of the states. I agree with your downsides, but mostly we find it to be a good thing.

  6. Ha, nice list. My husband is American and Im a Kiwi so one of us might get dual citizenship in the future. The downside of having US citizenship would be having to pay taxes whether you’re living there or not…they have some weird tax laws.

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