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 at each stage of travelling!
A Guide For Travelling With Two Passports
1. Booking your flight
When booking your flight, airlines will request you enter your passport information as part of the booking process. For countries where you are required to pass through immigration before departing, you should typically 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.
Apart from travelling from Australia, I have generally found that it doesn’t matter which passport you use to book your flight, particularly if you don’t pass through immigration when exiting the country. For example, in the United Kingdom or the USA, there is no immigration when exiting the country and airlines don’t seem to be concerned with your visa status in the departure country.
In countries that don’t recognise dual citizenship, it would be advisable to book your flight on the passport which you are legally using in the country.
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 add both passports to your packing list 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.
Whenever planning a trip, a great website I use is the Compare feature on PassportIndex.Org for deciding which passport to enter with at my destination. 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!
Example Scenarios when Travelling with Two Passports as a Dual Citizen
Example 1 – Australian and UK dual 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.
Can you have Two Passports?
Citizenship law varies from country to country so your ability to acquire two passports will depend on the specific laws of the two countries of which you wish to have passports.
For example, certain countries like the US, UK, France, Australia, Canada and Switzerland put no restrictions on dual citizenship and you are able to acquire multiple passports as long as it’s allowed by your second country of citizenship.
Some countries put restrictions on your ability to acquire dual citizenship and have quite complex laws to do with how they recognise dual citizenship. For example, there are no restrictions for Spanish citizens if acquiring dual citizenship with certain Latin American countries but there are restrictions with other countries. In Germany, there are certain situations where citizens will have to choose between nationalities by a certain age. In Pakistan, dual citizenship is only recognised with certain countries.
Other countries such as China and India don’t recognise dual citizenship at all.
Dual citizenship laws are constantly changing and it’s important to keep up to date if you are a dual citizen or wish to acquire citizenship of a particular country. It’s also important to remember that, when travelling, if a country doesn’t recognise dual citizenship then you might not be able to receive embassy assistance if you have entered that particular country on your other passport. I, therefore, recommend that travellers consider carefully which passport to use, particularly when travelling in more volatile countries.
Travelling with Two Passports with Different Names
In some situations, different countries might issue you passports with different names due to how the name has been translated or a country wanting to use their native language version of your name.
The first thing to do is to see whether the country that is issuing you your passport can add your regular name as a translated version on the page opposite where your main details are located. This will help prove that the passports have the same identify if you ever need to.
When booking your flight, you should ensure you enter the name as it appears in the passport for which you are purchasing and checking into your flight. This will ensure that when you check in and show your passport, the records match up to when you bought the ticket. In my experience, it’s not a problem to then enter your destination country with your other passport (even if it has a different name) as immigration isn’t checking details against the airline’s manifest.
As always, try to make sure you travel with both passports in case there are any misunderstandings!
Other Things to Consider when Traveling with Two Passports
As previously mentioned, I would also recommend taking both passports with you if you are a dual citizen 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 also buy a passport holder that allows you to carry two passports! Many passport holders are unfortunately only designed for people with a single passport which can increase the likelihood of you misplacing your other passport!
Before setting off on any trip, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy. We personally use World Nomads for all our trips and think they offer fantastic coverage, have competitive prices and make it easy to claim or extend your policy. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads!
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!
Disclaimer: I am not an immigration lawyer and this article is only meant to be used as a guide to travelling with two passports. I always recommend speaking to the relevant embassy if you want more information on your specific situation.