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Does Singapore Allow Dual Citizenship?

Goh Jun Cheng

Singapore has strict single citizenship principles embedded in its Constitution. But does the city-state make any exemptions allowing citizens to hold dual nationalities?

This article examines Singapore’s policies on dual citizenship and the limited exceptions that exist.

Constitutional Stance Against Dual Nationality

According to Article 128 of the Singapore Constitution, the Government does not recognize dual citizenship status for Singaporeans. Every citizen is required to renounce all foreign citizenships before being registered as a Singapore citizen.

The legal default is that all Singapore citizens solely hold Singapore nationality and no other.

Rationale for Single Citizenship

This constitutional stance against dual nationality aims to:

  • Maintain undivided loyalty to Singapore as the sole motherland. Dual citizens may be conflicted in priorities.
  • Discourage foreign interference in domestic affairs that may put Singapore’s interests at risk.
  • Simplify diplomatic protection for citizens abroad. Ambiguity makes protection difficult if dual nationals are involved.
  • Enhance national identity building and social cohesion with citizenship that is clear-cut.
  • Streamline obligations like National Service for male citizens (requires renouncing other nationalities).

General Non-Recognition of Dual Status

Consistent with the Constitution, Singapore does not officially recognize any citizens as dual nationals under the law.

Legally, all Singapore citizens are regarded as having renounced and terminated any prior foreign citizenship they held upon registering as Singapore citizens.

In official documents like passports, all Singapore citizens are indicated as solely Singaporean with no dual nationality reflected.

Limited Unofficial Tolerance for Dual Status

However, in practice, the authorities silently tolerate a limited degree of de facto dual nationality where it is beyond the citizen’s control.

Some situations where unofficial dual nationality may be accepted include:

  • Minor children registered as Singapore citizens under parents’ citizenship without consent
  • Spouses automatically acquiring foreign citizenship through marriage
  • Naturalized Singapore citizens unable to renounce their birth nationality due to obstacles imposed by their country of origin
  • Expatriate Singaporeans granted foreign citizenship during overseas residency and now returning

Such dual nationals are not legally recognized but unlikely to face issues unless citizenship abuse is suspected. Their dual status remains invisible.

Dual Citizenship for Minor Children

An explicit exemption exists allowing minor children below 21 years old to legally hold dual nationality or even multiple nationalities if born to parents of different nationalities.

Once they reach 21, they must select one citizenship to retain and renounce all others within a year.

This enables children to have time to decide which citizenship to keep long-term upon reaching adulthood.

Penalties for Citizens Violating Conditions

If Singapore citizens voluntarily obtain or exercise rights of a foreign citizenship without officially renouncing Singapore citizenship, serious penalties apply:

  • Automatically losing their Singapore citizenship status
  • Having their Singapore passport revoked
  • Facing criminal charges for violations like using a foreign passport
  • Being deported or prevented from entering Singapore
  • Being barred from sponsoring immigration or citizenship for family members

Stringent Enforcement to Uphold Integrity

The authorities actively investigate and prosecute cases of Singapore citizens deliberately concealing dual nationality to unlawfully benefit from both sides.

Offenders face hefty fines, jail terms, loss of citizenship rights and possibility of becoming stateless persons.

Such strict enforcement minimizes dual citizenship abuse to protect the integrity of Singapore’s nationality framework.

In conclusion, while limited unofficially tolerated exceptions exist, Singapore remains firmly opposed to dual citizenship in principle and practice. The high bar for citizenship underlines its constitutional sanctity as a marker of commitment and loyalty.

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