Travelling with two passports as a dual citizenship owner has many advantages, but very few disadvantage. As a dual citizen you belong to an exclusive club, as it is estimated that just 1% of the world’s population carries two or more passports.
Of all the advantages of dual citizenship there is one that stands out above the rest: you get to travel (and stay) in a wider range of countries without the need of a visa.
As a dual passport holder myself (USA and EU) I have learned first hand how, with the right combination of passports, it is possible to travel extensively without the need of applying for expensive visas that can sometimes take weeks or months to process, and money.
And this, is the greatest advantage of them all.
Common Problems and Reasons for Concern
Having two passports doesn’t come without its burdens, and using the right passport at the right times can sometimes be a confusing process- and there are several important factors to keep in mind.
The first is whether or not the countries you hold passports for allow dual citizenship.
While most countries are fine with dual citizens, a few countries will not recognize this concept. Saudi Arabia, for example, has been known to confiscate foreign passports from its citizens. Other countries, such as Norway, force their naturalized citizens to renounce their other citizenships.
In several Asian countries (namely South Korea and Singapore), dual citizenship is recognized only up to a certain age (typically around 21), at which point you must decide which citizenship to retain- and renounce to the second citizenship.
In any event make sure you’re aware of how much time you can spend in the country you’re visiting no matter what passport you’re using and be aware of consequences if you overstay your tourist visa.
How to Properly Use Each Passport
Assuming you carry passports from countries that both recognize dual citizenship, there is little to no risk of any incidents arising from your dual citizenship status when traveling as long as you use your passports correctly.
As a general rule, you should enter and exit each of your citizenship countries with your corresponding passport.
When traveling to foreign countries you should always enter and exit any country with the same passport (although sometimes I have sometimes forged this rule). Not doing so is a common mistake made by dual citizenship holders and can be the source of an immigration nightmare.
In addition to having to explain yourself, some travelers are forced to purchase a plane ticket on the spot and ‘deport’ themselves immediately.
Scenario 1: Traveling between countries you have passports for
For example, if you hold an EU and US passport and are taking a trip to the US:
- Exit Europe with your EU passport
- Upon arrival in the US, show you US passport at the US immigration check
- When you return to the EU, show your US passport again upon exiting the US.
- Enter the EU with your EU passport.
Scenario 2: Traveling between two countries you don't have passports for
Some time ago I was traveling in South America on an extended trip, and shortly before the trip began the US had decided to request a visa to all Brazilian nationals. As a reply, Brazil began doing the same. So what passport did I use when traveling from Uruguay to Brazil and back?
- I had entered Uruguay with my US passport, so I exited Uruguay with the same passport.
- Since Brazil now requested a visa for US citizens, I showed my Spanish passport upon entering the country (I saved 115 USD).
- When leaving Brazil I showed my Spanish passport at customs.
- And when entering Uruguay I showed my US passport again.
Scenario 3: You have a passport for one of the two countries you're traveling between.
Assuming you don't need a visa for the country you are visiting with at least one of the two passports you own, the process is very simple (in which case you'd follow scenario 2) choose the passport you like most, or the one you think is friendlier.
It may be the passport of the country you're departing from, so you'll simply have to show that same passport at every customs post you go through. Simple!
Your passport is your most important document when traveling. Always:
- Make two copies of the first two pages of your passports before leaving on your trip and give one to close relatives or friends.
- Keep your passport with you while traveling to show officials at the port of entry.
- Secure your passport to your body while touring local areas.
- Leave your passport in a safe place.
- Report a lost or stolen passport immediately.
Many travelers are concerned about what will happen to them if immigration officials discover they are traveling with multiple passports. In a vast majority of countries, this can at worst cause a lot of confusion.
The best way to prevent any hassle is to not volunteer any information regarding your dual citizenship status, especially when dealing with domestic airlines and travel companies that do not have a lot of experience with foreign passports.
Learning how to travel with two passports as a dual citizen is advantageous for a number of reasons.
As long as you take the necessary precautions and research the dual passport policy for the countries that you plan on traveling to, using two passports is a safe and legal way to explore the world.
I am an EU (Spanish) and US citizen. Born in the US and Spanish from my Spanish mother. I wish to travel to Spain and stay longer than 90 days, which should not be an issue as long as I plan and travel correctly.
How would you recommend I travel with 2 passports to avoid confusion or any issues at border control? I do not want Spain to think that I overstayed the Schengen law as an American citizen, while I actually have the right to be there as a Spanish citizen. Which passport should I use when purchasing the flights? Should I buy round-trip with only one of the passports?
This is all quite confusing so I hope you can share your personal experience with having these dual nationalities!!
Thank you so much!
Hi Adriana, you hold the same passports as I do. TBH I’ve entered with the US passport just to get the stamp and then have left with the Spanish, never had a problem. This said, the way to do it properly is to enter with the Spanish passport and do the bookings for the tickets with it too. When you leave Spain use your Spanish passport too 🙂 Hope this helps…no tendras ningun problema si haces esto 🙂
Ime a dual national British and Canadian.
Given the recent changes following the Brexit situation, I can only stay in the EU for 90 days in any 180 days, using my British passport.
I wonder if I can use my Canadian passport to go to the EU again even if I need a visa?
Hi Chris, I believe you should be able to…
Hello, as USA passport holder, I would like to apply for “Canadian passport“ as
Mother was Canadian . Where do I start ? Boston’s customs ?
Thanking you in advance …..
Hi John, the quickest way to get this sorted it to contact the Canadian consulate that is closest to you. If you’re in Boston this https://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/us-eu/boston.aspx?lang=eng their website with info you’ll probably need. Hope this helps!
I am planning to travel from Canada to Switzerland with my two kids in February. My kids are dual citizens of both those countries, I am Swiss citizen with Canadian permanent residency status. My son’s passport has expired in October and I am getting a new one done for him tomorrow so I should have it in about 10-15 days. But now I wonder how I should book the flight for him since they request a passport number to finalize the booking. Should I use the expired Canadian passport or the valid Swiss passport for him? I’ll be using the Swiss for myself obviously. My daughter’s are both valid… not sure how to best do this. Does the passport number on the flight ticket have to be the same as the one I am using to go through Immigration? Thank you in advance for your insight!
Hi Eva, sorry for not getting back to you before. Truth is it doesn’t really matter. As your kid has both passports and none of them requires a visa to get into Swtizerland, you can use any of the two. The passport on the flight does not have to be the same as the one you use through immigration; I’ve done this dozens of times myself. There is a chance though the airline might not let you book a ticket with a passport that is due to be expired the day of travel (if the booking systems is well done it shouldn’t). But you can always use one valid passport to book and the other to enter the country. Hope this helps and again sorry for the delay in the response. Happy 2020!
I am traveling to England and have a British Passport and a US passport.
Before leaving the US the airline would like me to fill out a advance passport information.
If I put in the British passport information will I get a opportunity to change that to US passport information for my return flight?
Hey Russell, yup, you shouldn’t have any problems as I have done it myself with me EU/ US passports 🙂 Hope this helps!
Hello, Can I keep American passport and a Pakistani passport?
If Pakistan allows you to have two passports then certainly!
Traveling from US to EU soon. If my airline ticket has my married name on it which includes my maiden name too, will it be a problem when I arrive in the EU at customs and show my EU passport that only bears my maiden name?
Hi Gale, you shouldn’t have a problem, however in the future make sure you type the name as it appears in your passport. Have fun in your trip!
Hi! I recently traveled to the UK with my EU passport. I also have a US passport but I didn’t use it when I left the US. Will I get in trouble if I show my US passport when I return to the US?
Hi Carla! You will be fine. I do that all the time! 🙂
I have dual citizenship with Netherlands and NZ.
I have a working holiday visa for Canada on my NL (Netherlands Passport), however I am flying to LA/Seattle first, and then bussing across the border to Vancouver. I already have a multiple entry B1 tourist visa for the USA in my NZ Passport. Does anyone have any advice on whether i could enter the USA on my NZ passport, and then at the Canada border show my Dutch passport with the working holiday visa for Canada?
Hi Simone! You should be able to do that, I have done it myself. Remember to use the same passport when entering and leaving a country, but you can swap to another when reaching immigration of the next country. This I wrote on how to travel with two passports may also help you. Cheers!
I enjoyed your post.
I have dual citizenship to both the US and Philippines. I am traveling to China and Myanmar this summer with my school. We are going to HK first. We are also doing a day trip to mainland China during our stay in HK. From KH we go to Myanmar. After Myanmar we go back to the US.
I was planning to use my US passport to enter and leave HK but use my Philipino passport to enter and leave Myanmar and then use my US passport to re-enter the US. Does it make sense to do this or should I just use my US passport all the way and pay the visa to enter Myanmar?
I am using my US passport into HK since we also need a visa into mainland China. My school is taking care of that and to avoid the hassels with school, I decided to just use my US passport for that leg of the trip.
Any information is appreciated.
Hi Orrick! If using the Filipino passport is going to save you money then use it! There’s no need to pay a visa to enter with a US passport if you have another one you can use. What you’re suggesting is what I did when visiting Brazil, for example. But it is up to you… hope this helps! 🙂
Can a person have dual citizenship..? ok y can have 2 or more passports.
Yes you can, but it depends on the countries. I, for example, have a dual citizenship and 2 passports. Other have more…
I think my biggest worry is that my american passport would give me more protection than my mexican passport. I am a dual citizen as well and can pretty much travel to any latin country I want freely unlike Americans need a visa for certain latin countries. I am like if something happens would Mexico come to my rescue, lol. Maybe I shouldn’t have those concerns but seriously I do.
I understand you. The same thing happens with me and my Spanish passport, but I suppose they’d be pretty serious. As for Mexico, what can I say. As a current resident of this country I seriously doubt they’d do much…
I always have wondered about this, and the line about not volunteering the information sure seems like the best way to go. It’s not that you are doing anything wrong, but border patrol people have a tendency to get confused by things like 2 passports and then will start asking questions. I only have one, but dream of an EU passport one day!
Hey Wendy, it does make things a lot simpler if you use them correctly!
I dont qualify for 2 passports, which is a shamebecause I’d really like to stay in Europe for more than the allowed time in the Shengen region.
I have a few friends who have an EU passport in addition to their own country passport. So jealous of them.
Nice blog post here btw. If you’ve got a few minutes, stop by my blog at protravelblog.com. I blog about travel tips 🙂
Hey Jack, having two passports really is an advantage. Thanks for dropping by,will check your site too! 🙂
Francisco, thanks really very much for your post! It was so helpful… you can’t imagine how long I’ve been surfing the net to find answers about how to travel with two passports and it was all so confusing!
Hey Lili! Very glad the post helped out 🙂
HI..I am satyam from India and now I am in mexico for last 7 months as a Doctoral Student.I have a residente temporal card. My wife from India will visit me in tourist visa. My question is that after my wife reaches Mexico, Can I apply for a change of status from tourist to dependent visa.I will be grateful if you kindly answer my query. Thank you
Hello Satyam, are you speaking about a visa for you? If so who would you be dependant on? I don’t think you’ll be able to do that, as you’re a student here. If it is for your wife she might be able to , and the way it worked before meant that you had to prove a certaing amount of money in the bank (local or overseas) to validate sponsorship. This has changed very recently though and I suggest you contact immigration. I do know that to be a legal resident in Mexico (not as a student) there is a fee of around 3000 MXN that has to be paid in addition to a few requirements. Does this help? This link will allow you to make a legal consultation for free via the official immigration page http://www.inm.gob.mx/consultas/
I would like to thank you for your reply.No I am in mexico and have FM3(temporal resident). i AM ASKING FOR MY WIFE. She is coming this month to Mexico in tourist visa. My question is that can my wife tourist visa can be changed to dependent after she comes to mexico. Thank you very much
As a temporary resident with an FM3 I believe you cannot act as a sponsor. If you could get and FM2 hat would be another story,but I don’t think you can’t either as a student. You may want to call immigration directly though for specific information? I strongly recommend you do 🙂 You’re most welcome!
Great write-up Federico! We are applying for our Portuguese passports soon. Both my parents were born in Portugal and since Cody and I have been married for 3 years, he can apply for it as well. It will be great because we want to travel Iran but it’s a hassle for Canadian passport holders.
Hey there! It sure will come very handy, specially from countries like those. You will even save some visa money if you go to Brazil for example!
This really helps – last time I went to Germany they wanted to collect VAT from me because I’m a dual citizen (but live in California). Took me a while to sort that out.
Glad it does TJ! Gosh, are you serious? I have never been asked for that… did they ask out of the blue?
I’ve never had a problem with it, even entering a country on one passport and leaving and then coming back in again only a few days later on my second passport. That’s because few countries cross reference passports.
I’ve even asked at the immigration desk at many airports and always been told it doesn’t matter, as long as you make sure you exit on the passport you came in on very few countries care.
And as for some countries requiring their citizens to ‘choose a nationality’, that does not impact people who are visiting the country.
Thailand, where I’ve lived on and off for more than a decade, requires their citizens to choose (although in practice, few actually do) yet they don’t mind if I come in on my EU passport or my American passport.
I asked at the immigration department. And again, got the same answer as always “Just make sure you leave on the same passport you came in on” 🙂
Very true. I’m surprised at how little control there is over this, but I have also entered a country with one passport and left with the other, and no problem at all though I am aware that you should leave with the one you entered with. I think you have a British passport, and that is recognized as the best one in the world to travel with too…
I even scan my passport and keep the scans on a USB memory stick.
For someone with dual citizenship, it’s better to take just one of the two passports on a trip. In order to avoid any confusion.
Some people have more than 2 citizenships, I heard of people having 3-4!
You know, I never even thought about the fact that having dual citizenship might complicate travel. I am not a dial citizen personally, but know several people that are. I am passing this article to them.
Thanks. It’s not really complicated and it has more advantages than disadvantages, but travelers should know how to use them properly.