Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by Michela
You’ve gotten dual citizenship – yay! There’s something so satisfying about finally having your second passport in hand. But how do you actually travel with two passports? When do you show what and what are the rules to follow?
While traveling with two passports should not be difficult, it can be intimidating the first few times you do it. You don’t want to make a mistake and get into any trouble!
To provide the clearest explanations possible, I’m going to use examples, many of them being from my own situation as a US and EU citizen. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please leave them in the comments so I can help!
You can read more about how I got my Italian dual citizenship.
Traveling With Two Passports: FAQs, Answered
How can you get two passports?
A person can apply for a passport in any country in which they have citizenship. If you were born a dual citizen, you likely can apply at any time. But you can also obtain dual citizenship in other ways, most commonly through ancestry, naturalization, and marriage. Once you’ve obtained dual citizenship, you should be able to apply for your passport right away, but you’ll have to check your country’s specific rules.
It’s important to note that every country has different policies on this (and it’s important to note that all the information in this article may vary depending on the country in question.) Always check official rules, which can usually be found on government websites, regarding if dual citizenship is allowed and their rules on traveling with two passports.
Is traveling with two passports allowed?
Yes. And people can even have more than two! It’s usually advantageous to have multiple passports (if your home country allows it). Having a second passport allows you to choose which one makes your entry into a foreign country easier and you’ll likely have shorter lines to wait in.
Do dual citizens need to travel with both passports?
No, you are not required to have both passports on you when you travel – just the one you are using. In my case, if traveling back and forth from the United States and the European Union (EU), I need both because I enter and leave the EU as an EU citizen and enter and leave the USA as a US citizen. Scroll to find detailed definitions of “entering” and “exiting.”
I highly suggest always bringing both passports with you when you travel, even if you don’t plan on using one of them. This assures that if you run into any trouble, you have all your documentation on hand and can explain your situation as a dual citizen. Follow these other international travel tips for a smooth experience.
Can you enter a country on one passport and exit on another?
No. The way that countries track whether or not you have overstayed your visa or the amount of days you’re allowed to stay there is based on what passport you used.
So, for example, if you enter the EU on an American passport, but then exit on an EU passport, then “on file” it will seem as though you never left the EU because they’ve seen you entered on an American passport.
Some countries do not stamp passports, which would then imply it doesn’t matter which you show. But to avoid trouble, the number one rule for traveling with two passports is to keep it consistent.
Defining “Entering” and “Exiting” a Country
The reason why I want to define these terms is that their messaging can get confusing in the context of the full flight journey.
This is because there is not just one stop where you show the passport you’re traveling with and move on. There are multiple passport control stops that can make you doubt which passport you are supposed to use.
Entering a country is when you land and you go through passport control. You will enter your destination country, but you will also re-enter the country that you are returning to. And this may cause you to use two different passports on the same journey.
For example, I am an EU and US citizen. If I travel to the US, I will use my American passport. But when I re-enter the EU, I will present my EU passport because I want to be considered an EU citizen in the EU.
The same goes for leaving a country. I will leave the EU on my EU passport, the same I used to enter it. And when I leave the US, I will present my US passport; the same I used to enter it.
Step-By-Step Flying Guide with Two Passports
Booking Your Flight: How to Choose Which Passport To Use
The first point where you will need to decide on which passport to use when traveling is when you go to book a flight. The main factors you will want to consider when choosing which to use are:
- Destination country’s laws. Your destination country may have certain laws about which passport you can use, usually if it’s the country from which you have citizenship. For example, US citizens must enter and leave the US using their US passport. So even if you are a dual citizen of another country, you don’t have the choice to use that passport to enter the US.
- Ease of visa requirements. The benefit to having two passports is that you can choose which one allows you to enter a country more easily. For example, if I’m traveling to Venezuela, I would choose to use my EU passport. With my EU passport, I don’t need to apply for a visa, whereas with the US passport I would have to apply for a visa, pay for it, and do the entire waiting process for it to be granted. These visa requirements are all based on agreements between the countries regarding the visitor’s nationality, length of stay, reason for visiting, etc.
Part of the booking and online check-in process can also get muddy when they ask for nationality. Dual nationals should always put the nationality that goes with whatever passport they are traveling on.
When you check in for your flight, you will present the passport that you used to buy the ticket. The airline wants to see the passport information match up and they want to know you have valid entry to your destination country.
At Security Check
You will present the passport associated with your ticket. Again it makes sense, as the agents all want to see that the information is consistent and that you won’t have problems entering the destination country.
At Passport Control When Departing
When you go through passport control after having checked in and gone through security, you will then present whichever passport you used to enter the country you are currently in. So, if I am in Italy, I would present my Italian passport.
Now, for example, if I have a connecting flight from Italy somewhere in the EU on my way to the US, I will not go through passport control in Italy. I will go through passport control at the last EU country I am traveling from.
Arriving At The Destination
When you go through the immigration check at your destination, you’ll present the passport you used on your ticket to fly there. This makes sense, as its the passport that is allowing you entry into the country.
Departing From The Destination
Same as when you arrive, you’ll show the passport you used to enter the country.
Returning Home/Re-entering Departing Country
So, now when you go through border control after your return journey, you will present which passport is most advantageous for you to enter that country with. Remember, this is the passport you will then use to leave this country the next time you take an international flight.
If I’m an EU citizen returning to the EU, then I will use my EU passport.
Traveling with two passports is not difficult, but it can be intimidating. It’s hard enough trying to travel stress-free and now it’s a whole new world with two passports in hand!
Now when you travel with two passports you will be a pro!