I’ll be traveling internationally without a valid US passport

Well, sort of. My trip to Turkey and Hong Kong starts next week, and my US passport expires in early February. Most countries require at least six months of passport validity, which I don’t have with my US passport. I was planning on getting it renewed before the trip, but I haven’t had time, so I guess I’ll do it when I get back.

Instead I’ll be using my German passport for entering Turkey and Hong Kong. I believe I have to use my US passport to re-enter the US, but of course I don’t need six months of validity to do that. Anyway, this is the first time I’ll be leaving the US without legally being able to use my US passport to enterĀ other countries. Ah, the joys of dual citizenship.

I’m not overlooking anything here, am I? As some of you may recall, I’m not very good with passports. šŸ˜‰

Either way, I’m certain my United buddies at TPA will be beyond confused when I hand them my German passport to check-in.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I got a US and German passport as well. Comes in handy at times, especially at some EU immigration counters where an EU passport definitely speeds things up.

  2. Lucky, I had a friend who I was traveling with who did this (he lost the passport he exited from the US with). He was taken to a back room and questioned for a good 15 minutes by the ICE folks when returning to the US – they had no record of him leaving the country. He explained it and they finally let him go but told him never to do it again.

  3. Lucky, you might use your US passport to leave the country, and then present your German passport when visiting Turkey or Hong Kong. Some countries do not require that a passport be valid for six months only that it is valid, so you may wish to check specific country info here on the state Department’s website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html

    I did not see any requirement for your passport to be valid for 6 months or longer when visiting Hong Kong: A passport with a minimum of one-month validity after the period of intended stay, adequate funds to cover stay without working and evidence of onward/return transportation are required.

    For Turkey, the passport must simply be valid, but US citizens have to buy a visa whereas EU citizens do not, so I would use the German passport for Turkey.

    Let us know how it works out.

  4. Lucky, if you enter a country using a German passport you will be admitted under an assumption that you are a German citizen. Then, in case of any problems you will be looking for a help from Germany but not the US State Department.

  5. I agree with the advice to present the US one on the way out (presumably the check-in agents aren’t looking for things like country-specific expiration requirements, which appear to be moot here anyway).

    I’ve done the leave on US/enter foreign country on non-US/return on US move several times. No worries.

  6. I agree with the above that your US passport is fine for both Turkey and Hong Kong.

    Turkey “Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid
    for the period of intended stay.” (As opposed to for 6 months)

    Hong Kong: “Passport and/or passport replacing travel documents must be valid for at least one month after the period of the intended stay.”

  7. @Dan lol ouch. Thanks for the link. I was just going off the less-than-cursory glances mine has always been given. I guess the question then becomes how real is the “we don’t have any record of you leaving” scenario… šŸ™‚

  8. Lucky, on top of the points mentioned above (U.S. law requires that you leave and enter with a U.S. passport; if there’s no record of your departure there will be problems when you return), there’s also a good chance the airline won’t allow you to board the outbound flight without your U.S. passport. When you leave the U.S. on a round-trip ticket, they’re supposed to make sure you can legally enter the U.S. when you get back. Visa waivers are only for temporary visitors; since your address is in the U.S., they should ask to see the document that authorizes you to enter the country as a resident — a U.S. visa in your German passport, a green card, or a U.S. passport if you claim to be a U.S. citizen.

    Here’s a true story that happened to people I know. An Israeli couple was returning to Israel after working for a year in the U.S.; their 6-week-old baby was registered in the passport of one of the parents (this was in 1969, and at the time Israel didn’t require that children have their own passports). As they were checking in, the agent asked to see the baby’s U.S. passport, and the parents said he didn’t have one. The agent asked if the baby was born in the U.S, the parents affirmed that he was, and the agent replied that in that case the baby is a U.S. citizen and is required by law to leave the country on a U.S. passport (mind you, this was a one-way ticket so there was no issue of re-entry). A big argument ensued, which ended when the father put the baby on the counter and said “You know what? We’re getting on the plane, and if the baby can’t leave the country then you take care of him”, at which point the agent got a little scared and let them on the plane.

    This was 40 years ago; today they might get arrested.

    It’s probably best to show the airline only your U.S. passport upon departure — I’ve read about cases where people present two passports to the airline and the wrong one gets put on the departure record sent to U.S. immigration authorities. But you should carry your German passport as well, in case the airline and/or immigrations officers in your destination countries have a problem with the U.S. passport.

  9. I agree with the others on leaving the US on your US passport, but if you enter Turkey on your German one then you won’t need to get a visa at the border – saves a bit of time and money.

  10. Lucy,

    Please use your US passport when you leave the US. Trust Me!!!

    …..unless you are planning to do a trip report of your visit to the immigration office at the airport after the conclusion of your international trip.

  11. I think the concern about departing the US, showing the outbound airline a German passport, and then return to the US showing US immigration a US passport is way overblown.

  12. As much as the government claims, there is no law for US citizens needing a passport for entering and leaving the US. The State Department may have rules, but they are not enforceable. The government cannot force you to get a passport or make you get one for entering and leaving the US.

    The US Supreme Court has stated that citizens have a right to travel. Forcing you to get a passport would put restrictions on that right,

    Passports are used for entering foreign countries not your own, though you may be given trouble and delayed while entering the US.

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