I acquired dual citizenship a couple of years ago which meant that recently I started travelling with two passports. And while I’ve been clear for a very long time about the benefits of obtaining dual citizenship and the flexibility that it allows me, it was only until about a day before my long trip through the Balkans that I realised I actually had no idea about the practicalities of travelling with two passports. I had no idea which passport I should use when booking a flight, checking in or passing through immigration.
So after doing some frantic last-minute research, I went to the airport and showed my foreign passport. What ensued was fifteen minutes of confusion when I showed the airline check-in in Australia my foreign passport. The concierge was left whispering to other staff before finally asking me how I had entered Australia and whether I had a visa to stay in the country. When I meekly showed him my Australian passport, he shook his head at me like I was an idiot and proceeded to tell me, “In Australia, ALWAYS show your Australian passport.”
I’m sure that I’m not the only one that has experienced confusion or uncertainty as to how to travel with two passports so I’ve created this step by step guide to travelling with two passports to ensure that you know exactly which passport to use when!
1. Booking your flight
When booking your flight, airlines will request you enter your passport information as part of the booking process. You should enter the details of the passport which you are using in the country of departure.
For example, as an Australian, I will always use my Australian passport when booking a flight out of Australia. However, as an EU citizen, I would use my European passport when booking a flight out of Europe.
2. Checking in at the airport
Whichever passport you have used to book your flight is the same one that you should show when you check in at the airport. It is, however, worth making sure that you have both passports on you as an airline might request to see proof of onward travel.
For example, if I book a one-way flight to Europe, the airline might request to see a return flight as if you’re not a dual citizen they want to make sure you’re not planning on illegally overstaying your visa. By showing my European passport it gives the airline evidence that I can stay in Europe without any additional visas.
3. Immigration at your departure airport
The passport that you have used to enter the country is the same one you should be showing immigration when leaving the country.
4. Immigration at your arrival airport
Whichever passport allows you the most hassle-free stay is the one you should show when arriving at your destination. Also it’s worth remembering that most countries require you to use the passport of that country if you are a citizen. So if I’m entering Australia, I should enter on my Australian passport rather than obtaining a visa on my European passport.
Example 1 – Australian and UK citizen travelling from Sydney to London.
1. Booking your flight – Australian passport
2. Checking in at the airport – Australian passport
3. Immigration at your departure airport – Australian passport
4. Immigration at your arrival airport – British passport
Example 2 – Australian and UK citizen travelling from Paris to Kiev.
1. Booking your flight – assuming you’ve entered France on your British passport (which you should as both are currently part of the EU) then use your British passport
2. Checking in at the airport – British passport
3. Immigration at your departure airport – British passport
4. Immigration at your arrival airport – as Australians require a visa to enter Ukraine but British citizens can enter visa-free, you should use your British passport.
- I would also recommend travelling with two passports even if you think you’ll only have the need for one of them. It could be helpful for proving onward travel or in the worst case scenario having two embassies you could contact should there be an emergency when travelling.
- Make sure to buy a passport holder that allows you to carry two passports! Many passport holders are unfortunately only designed for people with a single passport
- Whenever planning a trip, a great website I use is the Compare feature on Passport Index. It allows you to line up different passports next to each other and see how the visa requirements vary for every country around the world. This is a fantastic way to save money and time and ensure that you don’t pay any unnecessary visa fees!
Travelling with two passports is a privilege for people fortunate enough to be able to do so. Hopefully, this guide clears up any confusion as to which passport you should use at different stages of travelling!
Do you have two passports? What issues have you encountered on the road? Let us know in the comments below!