When Dual Citizenship Helps Your Career In Television and Film

22 Mar 2023

Dual citizenship and residency has become a popular way for American filmmakers to find work with producers who get tax breaks when they hire Canadians.

There’s a secret in Hollywood when it comes to producing films. Canada has a lucrative series of tax credits that can save American producers a tremendous amount of money in production costs by simply shooting a movie in Canada and employing Canadian citizens. The credit can be as much as 60% of production costs, depending on the number of “points” a production accumulates. Look at one of last year’s biggest box office hits – Deadpool. It was shot entirely in Vancouver, British Columbia. The principal star, Ryan Reynolds, is Canadian. Deadpool alone hired more than 2,000 crew and cast members and the overall production benefitted greatly from the provincial tax credits it earned as a result. The city of Vancouver, and indirectly  – Canada – also benefitted to more than $40-million in production spending. Win-win!

As per Deadline, the lure of dual citizenship for American producers and filmmakers began in 1994 with the adoption of NAFTA. Canada refused to sign off on the deal unless a cultural exemption was included allowing it to subsidize its film and TV industry. The U.S. government’s negotiation team ultimately allowed Canada to lure American productions and jobs north with the promise of cost-cutting tax incentives. And the only thing Hollywood likes more than a good movie is a good tax incentive.

“People have been doing it for 20 years. Primarily it has to do with production companies getting a tax credit to film in a particular Canadian province. If you hire a certain number of Canadian workers, they give you a tax credit.” The credit can be as much as 60% of production costs, depending on the number of “points” a production accumulates.

In effect, if you’re a Canadian citizen or dual citizen, you can qualify for tax credits more easily if you’re producing a film in Canada. Topically, Ryan Reynolds was also a producer on Deadpool, which if you didn’t know already, was not only a runaway success in 2016, but currently is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Not bad on a paltry sub 60 million dollar budget.

There’s another aspect to this as well if you’re an American who is seeking to become a Canadian citizen to work more in Canada. As per the Hollywood Reporter, thanks to said tax credits, the government covets your skills, and you could help producers save money. Becoming a Canadian citizen or taking advantage of your dual citizenship (if you haven’t already) could be a good idea.

The first step is to determine your eligibility according to Canada’s point system. There’s actually a calculator on the Canadian citizenship and immigration website that offers an at-a-glance estimate of your score based on the following criteria: age, education level, whether you have studied in Canada, English- and French-language proficiency, whether you have family already in Canada and your overall work experience.

One of the best ways to jump to the head of the line is to have a Canadian partner (that includes same-sex and common-law marriages). You’ll immediately qualify for up to 100 points, moving you closer to the 450-point threshold that gets you on the fast track. But even if you get past that threshold, it still won’t ensure citizenship. Ultimately, your chances will hinge on work experience, and this is where being in the entertainment industry helps.

Ultimately though – if you’re entitled to dual citizenship, it’s a good idea to get it – actor or not. Having a parent born in Canada helps. Did you know The Rock is a dual citizen? Anna Paquin and Matthew Perry too.