Dual Citizenship is this a problem?

Hi folks, I am originally a US citizen but I also have a passport in Portugal (EU) have heard of National Security Clearances and concerned this is going to DQ me from service. Is that the case? Or is the FBI background check different from a NSC? 0

To clarify, have been in the US most of my life. US Born and bred. Last few years have been in Europe, I have a passport from both countries and have PT citizenship through my mothers side.

Depending on the answer for the “Citizenship” part of the MMC credential. Do I just put “US” or US/Portugal?


Not much to worry about. The USCG criminal “background check” is a completely different thing than a “National security clearance.”

“Ratings” or “unlicensed” MMC holders do not need to be US citizens, permanent residency is enough.

A significant number of mariners are dual citizens with two passports.

You definitely want to put US Citizen on your MMC application.

I don’t know whether you should also put down your foreign citizenship. That’s question for @jdcavo , or a

USCG license consultant.

Another question is whether you must list all the foreign addresses that you have lived at for over six months. I’m not sure, but I think you probably do. That may also be a question for @jdcavo or a USCG license consultant.

However, foreign citizenship and a foreign passport often prevent people from getting a national security clearance. Some people are told that they can only get a clearance if they renounce their foreign citizenship.

Living in a foreign country, having a significant connection to a foreign country, and even associating with foreigners, can be issues for a national security clearance.

You would be crazy to give up an EU citizenship. In fact, you might want to consider starting your maritime career in the EU. @ombugge and @Dutchie can probably give you some good info about working in the EU.

To work at MSC (Military Sealift Command), you must be a US Citizen. You also would need a national security clearance. So I think you can probably forget about working for MSC.

Working for MSC sucks, so you are not missing out on much there. @DeckApe can tell you about working at MSC.

There is a background check or “suitability review” for all Federal employment. It is separate from the one for an MMC, and is not the same as one for a security clearance. See 5 CFR 731.

I don’t know if you are required to list all citizenship. I think, but am not positive, that the MMC database only allows one entry. I would ask the NMC.

Same for all previous addresses, I don’t think it’s required but am not sure.

I’ve known several people who told me they were required to surrender their non-United States passports and residency cards. Once their employment was finished they reapplied for their non-United States passports and got them back. They were Filipino and an Australian in addition to being American.

I wouldn’t count out being a multinational. Maybe it’s country dependent? Maybe other factors?

Excellent Tug, so just to clarify. That dual citizenship will only (Maybe) be an issue if I am working for MSC or other companies that transport military equipment etc?

Haven’t even considered the EU path, but aren’t they poorly paid?

Best, Kevin

Here is a lengthy article from nearly 2 years ago about maritime wages:

For simplicity, here is some table that compare wages for diff. nationalities:
Dry Cargo Ships, USD/per month:

Tanker Vessels, USD/per month:

NOTE: There are exceptions and this is not gospel For clarity, read the article.

PS> Wages in individual EU countries are set by Collective Bargaining Agreement between Unions and Shipowner Associations.

PPS> EU companies pay salaries for 12 months of the year for even time onboard/on leave.


The dual citizenship will only be an issue if you need a “national security clearance.” You would need it for MSC. MCS is not a company; it’s a government agency.

Certain companies have government contracts which require the crew on certain vessels to have security clearances.

Most maritime jobs do NOT require national security clearances.

My impression is that some European wages (after taxes and free healthcare) can end up being somewhat higher or lower than the US. Its probably worth looking into.

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Thanks Ombugge! I fear despite speaking Portuguese fluently I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable using it in a classroom setting. It’s a shame as I would love to stay in Europe, but at the same time I have invested so much time researching the US approach that I am retiscent to go back and check the EU approach.

English will do in most European countries.
Don’t give up before you have tried!!
At least do some research to find out what is possible before you declare defeat.

Very true Ombugge, how would I go about being just an Ordinary Seaman in these countries? Seems all of the schools/academies here in Portugal have just a Portuguese curriculum.

You are an EU citizen, hence all EU/EEA countries are open to you.
Where you find the right opportunities depend on you ambitions and drive.

By studying and becoming more than an OS. Some companies sponsor cleaver and ambitious young people against securing their service for X years after.