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I've found a few articles online about suggestions when travelling internationally with two passports, but I haven't found one that applies to my specific situation, so I thought I'd post it here in the hopes of finding someone else with a similar experience/circumstances.

I was born in the US, I have an American passport, but I also have a German passport, as I was granted renaturalized citizenship in 2013. I entered England in July of 2013 using my German passport and have been living in England since (roughly 2.5 years)

I am due to travel back to the States next month, and I'm unsure of which passport I should present to customs, or if I should present both.

As I entered the UK from America using my EU/German passport, my American passport was never stamped showing that I entered the UK. They also didn't stamp my German passport when I entered because its EU, and there was no need to stamp it.

I'm unsure of what to do here. I have a return ticket booked from the States back to the UK that is 3 weeks after my arrival to the US, so I wouldn't require any sort of visa to stay (not that I would require a visa anyway, being an American citizen), but there is also a possibility that I might delay my return to the UK and stay in the States for a bit longer.

I'm really confused, basically. I found an article about this that said it's not a good idea to present two passports to customs, even though that would be the most honest thing to do.

Anyone out there a dual citizen who returned to their home country after living abroad on their other passport? I need help :(
 

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P

I am due to travel back to the States next month, and I'm unsure of which passport I should present to customs, or if I should present both.
You've got a simple, straightforward situation.

You are a U.S. citizen. By law, all U.S. citizens must enter the United States presenting a valid U.S. passport (or U.S. passport card, allowed for certain land and sea entries only). If it's the U.S. government, you are singularly a U.S. citizen and must act accordingly. And although the U.S. has no exit control, you are also legally required to carry a valid U.S. passport as you cross the U.S. border outbound.

No stamp? So what? Just don't lie if asked such a question, that's all. The computer databases are "boss" anyway.

Note that your airline will always care about whether you can clear immigration and customs at your destination, so you should present your U.S. passport at airline checkin in the U.K. for your flight to the U.S. Present only that passport. Two passports is automatically confusing, so don't start that way. If and only if the airline has a question that your second passport would answer, then present your second passport.

When clearing immigration in the U.K. (passport control), it's the German passport (and the EU queue). You're checking out of the U.K., and you're German to the U.K. with the right to stay there. So check out of the U.K. as the German you are, not as some wacky "pop up" American they've never seen enter (and standing and waiting in the longer queue).

Simple.

For the record, Germans (without U.S. nationality) visiting the U.S. for an ordinary short tourist stay don't need visas, but they do need ESTA travel permission before they depart. That costs about $14. You do not want to waste $14, especially since it would be illegal for you to enter the U.S. using your German passport. And with a U.S. birthplace (also in your German passport) even the most junior U.S. CBP officer would figure that out and probably yell at you and call you an idiot (or the equivalent). Don't do that. :)
 

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....And then to complete the trip, check in for your return flight from the U.S. to the U.K. with your German passport. The U.S. has no exit control, but it's best to show your U.S. passport to the TSA security screener (a U.S. government employee). Then you board your flight, and you enter the U.K. with your German passport.

I'm a little puzzled why this would be confusing. Would you enter Germany with your U.S. passport? It's the same idea. You're 100% a U.S. citizen -- there are no partial U.S. citizens. So you act like the U.S. citizen you are with anything having to do with the U.S. And German with Germany. Everywhere else you can choose, but of course being a German citizen is more advantageous in the U.K. (and elsewhere in Europe) so you'd stick to the German passport there. Visiting Kuwait? Be American (free visas on arrival). Brazil? German (no visa required to visit). And so on. Stick to the same passport for both entry and exit. For airline checkin, present the passport most relevant to clearing immigration at the destination.

That's it, really.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I'm a little puzzled why this would be confusing.
I'm confused because I haven't lived in the US for 2 and a half years. I've been living in England.

If I land in the US and present border control with my US passport which is missing a stamp from UK customs, they're going to be bamboozled as to how my passport was never stamped upon entering a foreign country.

Additionally, they're going to ask where I live. I live in England. They're going to see my American passport, and they're going to see that I don't have a visa to live there. I don't have an American home address, I don't have an American phone number. They would have every right to find this stuff suspicious. I don't really see how I can explain any of this without telling them that I have dual EU nationality. Which is why I don't understand why it's NOT a good idea to just show them both?

It's not illegal to hold dual nationality, so why couldn't I present them with both of my passports to explain that I originally entered the UK with the EU passport and live there as a European, but that I wish to enter the US with my American passport?
 

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You are a US citizen and as such required to enter and exit the US with your US passport. You enter and exit EU countries with your German passport.
 

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As a US citizen, you must present a US passport on entry to the US. That's the long and short of it. They won't bother looking for stamps or exit information (not even in their system). They will ask you where you live (and actually you fill out that information on the landing card).

They frankly don't give a rat's backside whether you have a visa to live in the UK or not. It's not their business and it's not part of their job description. Do NOT present them with both passports!

The fact that you are a US citizen and have a US passport means they HAVE to let you enter the US. (I even know someone who only had an expired US passport and they had to allow him to enter, and told him that it's better to present an expired US passport than a valid one from anywhere else.) Be ready for some "weird" questions - instead of "how long have you been away? " they might ask you if you work in the UK, and what kind of company you work for. Or "what do you do in the UK?"

I've been coming and going like this for the last 20 years. If the guy reads your landing card, he'll see that you live in the UK - and frankly whether you have a visa or not (or are a full fledged citizen there) is of no interest to him. I'm still waiting for someone to "miss" the fact that I live in France, and ask me how long I've been away, so I can answer "oh, 20 years or so" - but so far, no luck.... <g>
Cheers,
Bev
 

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...... I suppose one of the important points to remember with regard passports, is, at check in, to present the passport you detailed when you bought the ticket ......:D
 

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...... I suppose one of the important points to remember with regard passports, is, at check in, to present the passport you detailed when you bought the ticket ......:D
NO! A thousand times no.

Airlines know how to update passport details in their databases. For U.S. bound flights they're doing ESTA checks, sending passenger manifests, etc. Do NOT present a foreign (non-U.S.) passport at airline checkin on a U.S. bound flight if you're a U.S. citizen, PERIOD. You won't have ESTA travel permission (or a visa) and cause all manner of confusion if you try to do that.

If you entered some other passport details when you booked the flight, whatever -- not a problem. Airlines know how to input new passport details. (What happens if you lose your passport? Renew it? Airlines know how to handle these things, too. Not a problem.)

When checking in with the airline, present the passport most relevant to clearing immigration at the destination. If the airline has any remaining questions, and if your second passport would clear up such questions, then you can present your second passport.

Keep it simple, because it is.
 

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Goodness....... keep your hair on.

Only mentioned it because if using the automatic machines, if you input a credit card number as identification which is not the card you used to purchase the ticket, you have to start all over again.
 

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If I land in the US and present border control with my US passport which is missing a stamp from UK customs, they're going to be bamboozled as to how my passport was never stamped upon entering a foreign country.
OK, now that many others have pointed how "Who cares about the (bleep) stamps?" I'll add a few points:

1. You've never entered a country where they don't stamp passports, or don't always stamp passports? It happens all the time, and it's happening more and more often. My country of residence doesn't stamp the passports of residents.

2. Same thing with visas and residence permits. There's no evidence that I'm a resident of Singapore in my passport(s). Zero.

3. As I think Bev pointed out, the U.S. government is not particularly interested in enforcing the immigration laws of the United Kingdom. If a U.S. citizen arrives in the U.S. after overstaying in the United Kingdom for 52 years, "Welcome home."

4. If you're asked questions about such matters, just answer truthfully. (Or don't answer at all if it's not a question you're legally required to answer, or if you want to do something rare like invoke a Fifth Amendment right.) But DON'T LIE.

5. There is an occasion when the stamps might matter and might require careful answers (but still truthful): when you're entering one of your countries of citizenship and that country does not tolerate (or poorly tolerates) multiple citizenships. That's not your situation.

I don't have an American home address, I don't have an American phone number. They would have every right to find this stuff suspicious.
They can find whatever they want "suspicious." They're U.S. CBP officers. They are required to find something suspicious as often as possible, time permitting, including the color of your shirt. ("You say you live in Svalbard, but why are you wearing a t-shirt?")

If you're doing something illegal, like smuggling salamanders or unpasteurized and undeclared cheese into the United States, then you've got reason to be concerned. Otherwise, just answer the questions asked truthfully (or decline to answer if you must, but that's rare that you would need to do that).

I don't really see how I can explain any of this without telling them that I have dual EU nationality.
Maybe. I was once asked point blank whether I possessed another particular citizenship by a representative of my other country of citizenship. I answered "Yes." It was a truthful answer, and nothing further was asked or required.

Which is why I don't understand why it's NOT a good idea to just show them both?
Because you're a U.S. citizen entering the United States with a legal obligation to enter the United States only with your U.S. passport. Period. Because you would piss off the U.S. CBP officer to no end -- they hate that s**t, because it is.

If and only if the U.S. CBP officer asks to see your other passport would you even consider showing it. But that's not going to happen.

It's not illegal to hold dual nationality, so why couldn't I present them with both of my passports to explain that I originally entered the UK with the EU passport and live there as a European, but that I wish to enter the US with my American passport?
Because they don't give a f*** about that, and they didn't ask you about that.

When you apply for a mortgage at a bank, do you plonk down your Boy Scout merit badges, your membership card for the Hair Club for Men, and your dry cleaning receipt? Those would be just as relevant as presenting a German passport to U.S. CBP if you're a U.S. citizen. Let them ask their questions, and don't waste their time, which you would be doing with another passport. Ever seen "Judge Judy" on TV? ("Excuse me. EXCUSE ME. Did I ask you about your boyfriend? I asked you a simple question. It requires a yes or no answer. I don't want to know about your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your cousin, or how many beers you can drink on a Tuesday....") CBP is like that, properly so.

Now, as it happens, things have changed a bit when you enter the United States. At all the major entry points (such as international airports) you won't be presenting your U.S. passport to a person, at least not at first. You'll be presenting it to an entry kiosk. The kiosk doesn't actually let you present two passports. So which is it going to be? The one you're legally required to present, or the one that's completely irrelevant and doesn't even have permission to enter? I vote for passport #1, your U.S. passport. (Anybody else want to vote differently? ;)) The kiosk may then print out an entry slip with your pretty picture (usually). You take the slip to a human who will probably wave you through immediately. And that's that.

Enjoy your trip, but use your head. The American one, only, when entering the United States.
 

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One of the main reasons I became a USC instead of just an LPR, was so that I could stay out of the US for an extended time, (we're retired, we travel for months at a time) without going through any hassles.
When I go to the UK, I show my UK passport, as I'm a citizen of the UK.
When I leave the UK, or anywhere to go back to the US, I show my US passport, to show I don't need an ESTA.
When I leave or come back to the US, I use my US passport. as I'm a citizen of the US.
Nobody has ever questioned me at any border about where I've been and why.
It's quite simple really.:)
 

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And to simplify this down to the bare essentials: When dealing with Immigration at the border (or with any government agency for that matter), answer the question they ask you, as briefly and truthfully as possible without offering any additional information.

Just for the record, I think you still fill out the landing card on arrival in the US, which gives them all the information they need to start the discussion. But that card asks for your country of residence and your country of nationality. I've always indicated my dual nationality, though I'm not sure anything past US is necessary. As long as you hand them the US passport, everything goes smoothly.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Just for the record, I think you still fill out the landing card on arrival in the US, which gives them all the information they need to start the discussion.
Not really. The entry process has changed within the past couple years.

From the United Kingdom you'll be arriving by airline (or the Queen Mary II?), and it's hard to imagine you could land at a U.S. airport that doesn't have the new Automated Passport Control kiosks. U.S. citizens (and a few others) proceed to the APC kiosks. Follow the kiosk's instructions: make your customs declaration on the touchscreen, scan your U.S. passport (only!), get your pretty picture taken, etc. The kiosk can even adjust its own height if you're short or tall. Yes, really -- it's pretty impressive. The kiosk spits out your "landing card," all ready-to-go. It even has your pretty picture printed on it. Then (normally) you breeze right through the human CBP immigration and customs checkpoints. If a CBP officer wants to have a word with you, no problem, just answer the kind gentleman's or lady's questions truthfully and succinctly.

If you're enrolled in Global Entry it's even a bit faster than that because you get to use special lines.

You now have to try really, really hard if you're a U.S. citizen to do something stupid like show a foreign passport to anybody in this process. Please don't.
 

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As BBCW says, if you're a USC, a landing card is unnececessary.
The last couple of trips, we went to the USC line... usually very short...and used the mechanised thing.
Just scan your passport, it gives you a ticket thing to hand in to the officer on the way out.
It also asks you a couple of customs questions too, so you don't need the old blue customs form either.
Much less hassle to be a USC. :)
 

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By customs information, do you mean the place on the old landing card where they asked you what you're bringing in/back with you? Sounds like it more or less just prints out the "landing card" info for you. (Or maybe creates a little file for the officer to look at.)

Sounds clever. Though it's unlikely I'll be going back there for a couple more years yet. Hm, by then everything will have changed so much I'll have no idea what's going on.

Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bev, yes. There used to be 2 forms....the landing card asking passport numbers etc....and the old blue form that asked are you bringing meats, cheeses, whatever.
The machine asks you that stuff now, and if I remember rightly, the officer guy scans it..That probably tells him stuff we can't see.
Ain't technology great!!?? :cheer2::cheer2::cheer2:
 

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How odd: I flew back to JFK from Paris in mid-November, and there wasn't a sign of any such modern technology.

I dealt directly with a live person at immigration, as well as filling out and handing him (and subsequently the fellow at the exit point) that classic old blue customs form asking passport number, address, nationality, and what I was bringing in. The forms were distributed on the aircraft before we landed.

Maybe not all international terminals are fully updated? Although I'd have thought both JFK and Newark would have gotten with the program by now... I fly into both airports regularly from overseas and can't recall seeing anything like that (as distinct from Global Entry).

One question, though: why would a US citizen need his/her photo taken upon entry? I know that's common for foreign visitors (along with a thumbprint, isn't it?), but doing the same for a US citizen seems odd.
 

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Maybe not all international terminals are fully updated?
JFK has them. On occasion you might be shunted (perhaps en masse) to the "traditional" desks with the blue customs forms. However, JFK has had the kiosks for quite some time and uses them.

What happened in Paris in mid-November, 2015? That event was exceptional and would have triggered exceptional processes on an inbound flight to JFK.

Note that at most airports it's still possible to choose the "traditional" path or the kiosk path. When you arrive, look for the kiosk-based line and take that if you wish. Ask the agent that's usually standing nearby if in doubt. (The choice of lines doesn't change the above discussion about passport use. That answer is very simple.)

One question, though: why would a US citizen need his/her photo taken upon entry?
Ask CBP. Your photo is taken either way. Security cameras are everywhere in the arrivals hall, and officers are watching.

For the kiosks the photo is a simple method to make sure you're not tempted to swap paper receipts that the kiosk spits out.
 

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How odd: I flew back to JFK from Paris in mid-November, and there wasn't a sign of any such modern technology.

I dealt directly with a live person at immigration, as well as filling out and handing him (and subsequently the fellow at the exit point) that classic old blue customs form asking passport number, address, nationality, and what I was bringing in. The forms were distributed on the aircraft before we landed.

Maybe not all international terminals are fully updated? Although I'd have thought both JFK and Newark would have gotten with the program by now... I fly into both airports regularly from overseas and can't recall seeing anything like that (as distinct from Global Entry).

One question, though: why would a US citizen need his/her photo taken upon entry? I know that's common for foreign visitors (along with a thumbprint, isn't it?), but doing the same for a US citizen seems odd.
Terminal 7 at JFK (the BA terminal) doesn't have them. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) | U.S. Customs and Border Protection
 

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Thanks, BBCWatcher and Ozbound12.

I'm usually too exhausted when I arrive to do much more than follow the crowd, so no doubt I've simply overlooked the kiosks' existence. But I did return on BA, so we were probably in Terminal 7, which explains things (I got back the night before the tragic Paris events).

As for the US passport question, it is, as you note, a no-brainer, and it's not my issue anyhow.

And yes, I know there are gazillions of cameras - was just curious why they'd bother with a specific photo of a US citizen. Potential fraud with the kiosk receipts sounds as reasonable a suggestion as any.

I appreciate the responses.
 
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