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How to Travel with Two Passports

Posted on July 30 2016

How to Travel with Two Passports
If you are one of the few people who have two nationalities you have a privilege only a few do. You can have two passports from two different countries. If you love to travel that’s a great advantage depending on which passports you are holding. I myself have a German and American passport. Those two passports give me visa-free access to over 177 countries (not trying to brag or anything).
Visas can take a lengthy time to acquire, be expensive and simple just a hassle when you only want to visit a foreign country for a few days.
That’s where having two passports can come in handy.
Just because you have two passports doesn’t mean you can just use whichever one you’d like. Depending on the country you are visiting you need to identify yourself accordingly.
When you book a flight most airlines will require you to give them your passport information in order to determine if you’re allowed to go where you are going.
Step 1: Book a Ticket: If for example you’re booking a flight to Spain you’re going to have to provide your passport information to the airline when booking the flight.
Which passport to use: The one you will be using at your destination.
Example: I have an American passport and a German passport. When I book a flight to France for example, I’m going to book the flight with my German passport since France and Germany are both in the EU. If I were to fly with my American passport I would only be able to stay in France for 3 months. After that I would have to apply for an extended visa.
Step 2: Check in at the Airport: Here we will be doing the same thing as explained in step 1. When checking in at the airport the airline wants to know if you’re allowed to visit the country that you’re planning on flying to. It doesn’t matter if that passport doesn’t allow you to be in the current country you are in. The airline only cares about where you are going.
Which passport to use: The one you will be using at your destination.
Example: John is planning on leaving the USA and flying to Italy. At the airport in the USA he will check into his flight with his Italian passport.  
Step 3: Departing Immigration: Most countries require you to clear immigration when leaving the country. Most countries with the exception of the United States. When exiting the U.S. one does not have to clear immigration, which is great because otherwise leaving the U.S. would be a nightmare. It is very important that you present yourself to the countries authorities with your correct passport. The one that allows you to legally stay in that country. If you are starting in a country that you don’t hold citizenship in they will be looking for an entry stamp or visa that authorizes you to have been there.
Which Passport to use: The one that allows you to be where you currently are.
Example: When I leave Germany I have to show my German passport in order to clear immigration and not my American even though I might be flying to the states. It doesn’t matter where I fly to, I still have to correctly identify myself to the country I am departing from.
Step 4: Arriving Immigration: When you arrive at your destination you will have to clear immigration once again, this time however, they are concerned whether or not you’re allowed to enter the country you’ve arrived at. Not if you had permission to be in the country you’ve just come from.
Which Passport to use: The one that allows you to enter that country.
Example: John presents his Italian passport (matching what the airline has on file) to British immigration and enters visa-free.
Step 5: Check in at Airport for Return Flight home: So you’ve enjoyed your vacation and now you’re at the airport checking into your flight, ready to go home. Well it’s time to present the passport that allows you to be in your home country.
Which Passport to use: The one that allows you to return to your home country.
Example: Kevin who holds a Russian and American passport has to show his American passport to the airline when checking into his flight that is departing from Moscow back to the States. Even though he has a Russian passport, the airlines concern lies with him being able to stay at the country that he’s departing to.
Step 6: Departing Immigration: Here you will use the same passport that you used when entering the country. Immigration will look for an entry stamp on your passport that’s why it’s very important that you’ll use the same one you used when coming to the country.
Which Passport to use: The one you used to enter the country.
Example: Kevin is showing his Russian passport to Russia’s immigration because that is the same one he used when arriving. Immigration won’t stamp his passport because he’s a citizen of that country.
Step 7: Arriving Immigration: This is essentially your starting point. Your journey has come to an end. But you’re not done just yet. You still have to clear your home countries immigration. Here you will show the passport that allows you to live in your home country.
Which Passport to use: The one that allows you into your home country.
Example: John returned to the States from his trip in Spain. When clearing immigration John will present his American passport to the authorities.
The golden rule when traveling with multiple passports is to ALWAYS present yourself as a citizen of a country to authorities from that country. If you have an American and French passport you cannot identify yourself to U.S. authorities as French citizen and vice versa. This is very important. When I’m in Germany I don’t use my American passport unless I’m at the airport checking in with my airline. That is the only time.
Enjoy your Journey,
Enjoy the layover.


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