Why I made my son's second passport a priority

Why I made my son's second passport a priority

In 2002, my husband Alastair stood in the queue of the Mexican Embassy in Belize. He was clutching his South African passport and silently cursing his father, just as he had done in many embassies around the world, many times before.  Meanwhile, I was sitting in a bar outside, reading a book with a glass of wine, silently thanking my mother for my British passport, which currently gives me visa free access to 157 countries.  South Africans only have visa free access to 93 countries worldwide and for them travel is not as easy and definitely more expensive.  Alastair and I were both born in Africa and eligible for a British passports through descent, so why did we have such different outcomes?   It’s simple really… my British mother was organised and forward thinking, and my British father-in-law unfortunately didn't realise it was a priority.

My mother did the paperwork to get citizenship for me and my brothers as soon as we were born. Alastair’s father assumed that he’d be able to get citizenship for his kids later in life. Unfortunately, a law change rendered them ineligible, and the opportunity was gone. 

And travel wasn't the only benefit that I got from my maroon passport.  When we got married, it was my British passport that allowed us to live and work in London.  When we moved to Australia, it was my British passport that allowed us easy access to an Australian working holiday visa. The self-same British passport now allows us to live in Spain. My passport’s access to the European Union has allowed us to live the brilliant life we have had.

Life would have been a very different--with a lot less travel and adventure—if it wasn't for my British Passport.

Thanks to my mother’s foresight, I was able to share my gift of mobility and travel with my husband and my son!

Just as you want your children to have the best possible education to open doors and provide new opportunities; you should consider the opportunities available with the gift of a second passport.

You may think that the nationality and passport your child holds today is respected and useful, but this may not be the case in the future.  Think about the implications that Brexit could have on UK passport holders.  Political unrest, disagreements and uncertainty often bring changes to visa requirements and rulings.   

The wherecani.live Passport Compare page ranks countries according to the visa free travel that their citizens enjoy.  Germany is currently the most powerful passport giving you visa free access to 159 countries, whilst countries like Sri Lanka only have visa free access to 37 countries in the world.  

Immigration laws change, too.  Even though you think your child is eligible for nationality in another country today, that may not be the case tomorrow. 

Don’t put off the application, your child may potentially lose out forever.

Be aware of the deadlines many countries have in place for applying for citizenship for your child.  For example, if your child is eligible through you, you need to apply for British citizenship for them before they turn 18.  The same rule applies in Croatia and Macedonia.

In other countries, if a child’s parents were not married when the child was born, the father needs to formally acknowledge them before a certain age so  the child can get citizenship through him.  For example, in Denmark and Iceland a child needs to be acknowledged by their father, and registered as a citizen, before the age of 18. In the Netherlands, a father needs to register a child as a Dutch citizen before the age of 7.

If you are pregnant, you should also consider whether you need to apply for citizenship yourself before your child is born.  In most countries, parents need to be citizens of the country of interest when the child is born, in order for the new-born to be eligible for citizenship in the future.

I only found out a couple of years ago that I am eligible for an Irish passport through my grandmother.  If I had I known earlier, I could have become a citizen of Ireland before my son was born, allowing him to become an Irish citizen.  My son is lucky enough to hold two very strong passports but has unfortunately lost out on an Irish passport which would have kept him as an EU citizen after Brexit.  Make sure that your child doesn't miss out too!

To find out where you or your child can get a second passport in less than 5 minutes, use our handy tool, here.

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Alison Johnson

Alison is a travel junkie, digital nomad and the co-founder of www.wherecani.live She has lived in 7 countries on 4 continents and is passionate about opening the world up for others.

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