Reader Jim asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog, which I figured I’d answer here, given that I get a lot of questions about my dual citizenship:
Big fan of your blog. My questions is about dual citizenship and traveling with two passports. You mentioned that you travel with your German passport. What are some advantages and disadvantages of having two passports? When and where would you use a passport from the EU as opposed to US?
I was born in the US but both of my parents are from Germany, so I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to have dual citizenship. In a way, I’d consider my passports to almost be my two most valuable “elite statuses,” given how much time and money they save me.
I use my German passport for:
- Entering the EU and UK. Most major airports in the EU and UK have ePassport gates, which are awesome. When you use these you don’t have to talk to a human, but rather just use an automated machine that takes your picture. That’s especially useful in the UK, since they otherwise often love to quiz about the reason for your visit.
- Entering countries where a US passport requires a visa/reciprocity fee. Governments are all too often in favor of reciprocity, even when it’s negative. The US requires citizens from a lot of countries to acquire visas or pay immigration fees. So under these circumstances I use my German passport. For example, with my German passport I don’t need a visa for Brazil, while I’d need one with my US passport. Similarly, Argentina and a few other countries have hefty reciprocity fees for those with US passports, which don’t apply to those with German passports.
I use my US passport for:
- Entering the US. Global Entry is awesome, and makes US-bound international travel so much more relaxing.
- Countries where visas can’t be avoided. There are some countries where both Americans and Germans have to get visas, and in those cases I just get the visa in my US passport. Since I live in the US, geographically it’s easier to deal with a US consulate than a German consulate.
- Entering most other countries not listed above. My German passport only has 16 pages, while my US passport is thicker than a credit card churner’s wallet. So purely in terms of available passport real estate, it makes the most sense to get “stamped” in my US passport as opposed to German passport.
While the above are mostly just preferences, I should note the one thing that’s required — I have to use my US passport to enter the US, and have to use my EU passport to enter the EU. Of course there’s no reason I wouldn’t do that, but I do think it’s worth noting that you can get in trouble if you don’t.
I save so much time being able to enter the US, EU, and UK without having to talk to a human. It saves me a lot of money as well, given that I can avoid quite a few visas and reciprocity fees.
Is anyone else fortunate enough to have dual citizenship?