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Does your child have dual citizenship?

Though we generally think of citizenship as something that is exclusive to one country, it is possible for people to have dual citizenship. Another name for this, in some cases, is dual nationality. As the name implies, it simply means that the person can claim citizenship in two separate countries at the same time.

Does your child have it? In some cases, people get dual citizenship automatically. A common example involves children. If you are from another country and you come to the United States, where your child is born, that could mean that your child instantly becomes a citizen of both your home country and the United States.

There is one exception to this. If you are a foreign diplomat, then your child may just become a citizen of your home country, even when born in the United States.

The reverse is also true. If you are a U.S. citizen and you travel overseas before having your child, then your child could end up being a citizen of both the U.S. -- through you -- and of the country you happened to be in at the time of his or her birth. However, that country's laws also come into play, so this does not happen everywhere.

If your child does have dual citizenship, it is very important for you to know what this means from a legal standpoint. What paperwork does your child need to cross the border? What rights does he or she have? Make sure you know exactly where your family stands as your child grows up.

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