Being a dual citizen comes with a lot of benefits for travelers. Not only does it give you access to two different embassies in the event that you need help when abroad, but it also means you can benefit from having two different options when it comes to entering different countries and taking advantage of their visa policies.
If you don’t have a second passport, I highly recommend finding out if you qualify for one. If you were born in another country or one/both of your parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents are citizens of another country, you may also qualify as a citizen. Look into your family history and see if you can get a second passport!
I’m a dual Canadian and Romanian citizen and this has proven to be extremely useful for me in my travels since my Canadian passport gets me visa-free access to the USA & most other countries around the world whereas my Romanian passport gives me complete freedom of movement within the EU.
This means that while other Canadians have to calculate how many days they can spend in each country of the Schengen Area on their 90-day visa while also planning out their stay outside of it so they can maximize their total time in Europe, all I have to do is flash my Romanian passport and I can stay as long as I want!
And I’m not the only one who benefits from this. If you’re reading this page, you probably also have dual citizenship and you’re wondering how you can make the most of it.
The thing is, there is a process to traveling with two passports and you have to know what you’re doing because otherwise, you may run into immigration issues if you flash the wrong passport at the wrong time.
Luckily for you though, I have detailed everything you need to know about traveling with two passports in this easy-to-follow 5-step guide!
1. Decide which passport to use to enter your destination country
Before you book your flight or head to the airport, you should first figure out which of your two passports you plan to use to enter the country you plan to visit. The one that you should use is the one that gives you the easiest access to that country with regards to visa requirements.
Note: If you are a citizen of the country you plan to enter, then you must use that country’s passport to enter it. You cannot enter a country that you are a citizen of by using another country’s passport.
If you are not a citizen of the country you plan to enter, then you can find the visa requirements for that country by checking out its Destination Guide or by going to Wikipedia and searching for “visa policy of ______”, inputting the name of the country you’re planning to visit in the blank space.
And if you want to compare the visa requirements for two passports at the same time, check out the Passport Index. Just input your two nationalities and find out which one gives you easier access for every country in the world side by side!
Choose the passport that gives you the most visa-free days in that country.
However, if neither of your passports is visa-exempt for your destination country, then pick the one that only requires an eTA, eVisitor, or ETIAS. If neither of them fit that criteria either, then pick the one that only requires a Visa on Arrival or eVisa.
Note 1: if you need to get a visa to enter your destination country, make sure you’re prepared for it by applying soon enough before your trip. Learn more about the different types of visas in my Guide to Visas & Vaccinations.
Note 2: when crossing a land border, many countries will not allow you to to use a different passport than the one you used to exit the country you are crossing from. They usually ask to see an exit stamp for that country before allowing you to enter.
If both of your passports have the exact same visa requirements for your destination country, then just use the same passport that you used/plan to use to enter the country of your departure airport to make it easier for you.
For example: if you are in France on a US passport and you plan to fly from France to the UK, just continue using the US passport (assuming your 2nd passport has the exact same visa requirements for the UK) to enter the UK in order to keep things simple.
2. Which passport to use when booking your flight
When booking your flight to another country, most airlines will ask you for your passport information. This is partly so they can identify you, but it’s also because they need to make sure that you are legally allowed to enter the country that they are bringing you to, whether that’s because you’re a citizen, you have visa-free entry, or you have a valid entry visa.
The reason why airlines care whether or not you’re legally allowed to enter the country they are bringing you to is because if you’re denied entry into that country after arriving and you are deported back to your original country, it’s the airline’s responsibility to take you back.
Note: this is also why sometimes an airline will ask you for proof of onward travel before they will let you board a flight. If it’s discovered that you cannot legally enter the country they bring you to, they often get fined for bringing you there in the first place. Learn more about this in my Guide to Proof of Onward Travel.
Therefore when booking your flight, you should use the details for the passport that you chose in Step 1. In other words, the passport that will legally let you enter the country of your destination country and that you plan to use to enter it.
3. Which passport to use when checking in for your flight
This one is pretty simple. Just check in to your flight with the same passport that you used to book it because that’s what the airline check-in agents will have in their system.
If you show them any other passport, they will get confused and the check-in will get delayed.
4. Which passport to use at border control in the departure country
This one is also pretty simple. The passport you show to the immigration officials at border control when leaving a country has to be the same one that you used to enter that country.
Note: this might be different to the one that you plan to use to enter your arrival country.
This is because their system has been tracking how long you’ve been staying in the country and if you show them a passport that doesn’t have any entry data, they might assume that you entered the country illegally. So to avoid any issues or questioning, just remember to show them the exact same passport that you used to enter the country.
For example: if you entered the UK on a US passport, you must show that exact same passport to the immigration official at the border control of your departure airport in the UK.
5. Which passport to use at border control in the arrival country
This is the final step in your dual passport journey and if you’ve been following this guide so far, then you probably already know the answer to this one.
The passport that you show to the immigration officials at border control when entering your destination country should be the one that you chose in Step 1.
In other words, the one that gives you the easiest access to that country with regards to visa requirements (unless you are a citizen of that country, in which case you use that country’s passport).
Some important things to note about dual citizenship:
- If you are entering a country as a citizen of it, especially if it is one of the countries that does not recognize dual citizenship, then you will not have access to any other country’s embassy while you are there.
- Some countries require its citizens to perform mandatory military service and if you get citizenship for that country and enter it as a citizen, you may get assigned to it.
- Some countries require all of its citizens to pay taxes on all of their income, regardless of whether or not they are actually residents of that country.
- If your second passport translates your name into another language, find out if they can add an English translation of your name on another page to help prove your identity in case someone questions the validity of your two passports.
If your second nationality is for a country that matches one of the previous descriptions, you may want to think twice about becoming a citizen and getting a passport for that country since the hassles of being a citizen may outweigh the benefits. However, it is totally up to you to decide based on your own personal situation!
And that’s all there is to it!
Traveling with two passports comes with many benefits and as long as you know how to use them when crossing borders, you’ll never run into any issues doing it! Luckily though, the process is pretty simple and straightforward.
If this guide helped clear up the process for you, let me know in the comments below. And if you want to know how to protect yourself while abroad, check out my Guide to Staying Safe While Traveling.