Travel insurance for dual nationals
If you're travelling to a country where you hold dual citizenship, then travel insurance is a must. Here's why.
Many Australians are also considered citizens of other nations. For example, you might hold both Australian and UK passports. If you’re a dual national and you’re travelling to another country where you are also a citizen, there is no requirement for you to take out travel insurance for your journey but it's highly recommended for various reasons.
Why should I get travel insurance?
Dual nationality/citizenship doesn't guarantee essnetial services
Just because you’re considered a national of that country doesn’t mean you’ll be able to access the full range of essential services that ordinary citizens can (e.g. healthcare). Travel insurance can provide crucial financial protection against risks such as:
- Emergency medical expenses overseas
- Cancellations fees and lost deposits
- Theft of personal belongings
As a dual citizen of another country am I entitled to it's basic health care?
In many cases, you’ll be entitled to a certain level of health care in the country you’re a citizen of. However, there are conditions and restrictions to this cover, which usually means it cannot be relied on to provide the medical care you may need.
Healthcare is usually provided upon residency rather than citizenship
For example, access to a country’s health care system is often based on residency rather than citizenship, so you may need to reside in the other country for a certain amount of time each year. You’ll often also need to pay income tax in that country each year in order to access free health care.
Conditions of free health care in New Zealand
Jason is a dual citizen of New Zealand. When booking his two week trip to visit family, Jason decides not to buy travel insurance as he is certain he will be able to access basic health care. On the way to his parents place, he unfortunately is involved in a car crash, suffering a broken collar bone. To add insult to injury, Jason learns that he is not covered by the public health care system.
Why was Jason not covered?
New Zealand offers Australian's free health care but only if they intend to live in New Zealand for two years or more.
Free healthcare is basic and has gaps
Free health care offered in other countries is not comprehensive and usually features a range of gaps. For example, you may have to co-pay for treatments, and certain services (such as ambulance cover) are not included.
This is why travel insurance is essential even if you’re a dual national.
Travel insurance covers a whole lot more
Travel insurance provides a much higher level of medical cover than you can access under any country’s health care system. Many comprehensive travel insurance policies offer unlimited cover for overseas emergency medical expenses and overseas emergency medical assistance. This includes
- Ambulance transportation
- Medical costs
- Surgical costs
- Hospital accommodation expenses
- Emergency medical evacuation back to Australia if required
- Cost bringing a relative to you
Travel insurance provides much more than medical cover; it can also provide you with financial protection against a wide range of non-medical mishaps that may occur on your holiday including:
Countries that allow dual citizenship
- El Salvador
- New Zealand
- Spain (only in certain cases)
- Sri Lanka
- St. Kitts & Nevis
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Western Samoa
Who is considered a dual national?
A dual national is someone who holds two nationalities. In addition to their Australian citizenship, that person is also a citizen of another country. Dual nationality can have a range of benefits, including skipping immigration queues at airports and in some cases accessing the other country’s healthcare system.
How do you become a dual national?
Dual nationality status is determined based on Australian laws and the laws of the other country. The most common ways that Australians become dual nationals are:
- By automatically becoming a citizen of another country, either because they marry someone from that country or they have a parent who is a citizen of that country
- When a permanent Australian resident applies for Australian citizenship but also retains citizenship in their previous country
- When an Australian citizen becomes a citizen of another country but opts to retain citizenship in Australia
- When Australian parents have a child overseas, the child can be considered an Australian citizen and may also automatically become a citizen in the country where they were born
Things to remember when travelling as a dual national
As dual nationals have two passports, it’s important to remember that you should enter and leave Australia on your Australian passport. Failure to do so will lead to delays when entering Australia, and you may even be denied permission to board your flight.
Dual nationals can then choose to enter and exit the other country on their passport for that country. However, if you choose this option you should be aware of any conditions and restrictions that country imposes on its citizens, such as the need to have an exit visa in your passport.
The Smartraveller website also lists a few potential issues dual nationals should be wary of when visiting a country where you are also a citizen:
- You may be liable to complete military service.
- You could be prosecuted for breaking the laws of that country, even if you committed offences outside the country’s borders.
- You may only be able to receive limited consular assistance from the Australian Government as the other country may not recognise your Australian citizenship.
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