Dual citizenship- traveling from the US to Germany

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I have dual US/German citizenship and am going to Germany in a month. I've never flown internationally and don't know who to show which passport where in the airport. I don't even know where in the airport they check passports. My parents insist that I'd only show my American one in the USA because the State Department says that I'd have to enter and leave the USA with my American one. Is that so? Neither parent has dual citizenship and I don't want to take any chances.

 

When I check in to get my boarding pass at the American airport for my flight to Germany, which passport do I show? Is this me technically leaving the US, so I'd legally have to show the American one, or do they want my German one because I'm going to Germany?

 

Beyond that point while still in the US, if I am asked for my passport (again, never flown internationally, so I might sound stupid thinking they'd want to see it again), which one do I show?

 

When I land in Germany, I show my German one, right?

 

And then on the way home, which passport do I show at check-in at the German airport since I have to leave Germany with my German one but am coming back to the USA?

 

Which passport would I have to show beyond that point?

 

I guess I'm more confused than I should be because I've never flown. Thanks everyone!

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You could in theory use your U.S. one for all checks, but in practice (I'm in the same situation, just living in Germany now, but have lived in the U.S. before) I show the U.S. passport at all checks except one: when clearing the passport check at the German airport I use my German Ausweis (identification card).

 

Edit: as dual citizenship in cases like yours is perfectly legal, it's not a problem if you show one passport and if, for whatever reason, you are asked a question and decide to whip out the other passport. I did that once, I just can't remember in which situation.

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You're supposed to enter/leave the US on your US passport and Germany on your German passport because when in the US you are for legal purposes viewed solely as a US citizen and in Germany solely as a German citizen.

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We once had an expired passport for one of our 2 dual national children. The US consulate assured me I had to get my child an emergency passport because she was required to show that pass, not her US one, when entering and leaving the US. So that's quite clear. However, if you don't have a German passport, as a US citizen you will travel in the EU for 90 days on a visa waiver, so I would think that you would have no issues: they would not be aware at the German border that you are a dual national and you would , I assume, say that you are visiting for pleasure. If your return is more than 9- days after entry, get a German passport and use it.

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The US is very clear about wanting to use your US passport when you leave and enter the US. I think other countries are not as strict with that but if you were to ask them, they would probably prefer that you enter on your German passport rather than enter as a tourist on your American passport. So.. your German passport does not come out at all as you are leaving the US. Once you are on the plane on the way over, you pack your US passport away and bring out the German one. As you enter and leave Germany, the only passport you show is the German one. On the plane back, the German passport gets put away and the US passport comes out. As you enter the US, you enter with your US passport only. If the US were to ask why you don't have any German stamps in your passport, you can show them the German one to explain.

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The US consulate assured me I had to get my child an emergency passport because she was required to show that pass, not her US one, when entering and leaving the US. So that's quite clear.

 

That's actually very unclear. To me, at least. What you are saying is that the American government forced an American citizen to use their non-American passport to enter the country? Seems extremely strange, to me!

 

Generally, you use the passport that is most convenient. So to the OP when you are leaving the US, it is a free state and its citizens are allowed to come and go, so they do not care what passport you leave on. Your passport is being checked for two reasons only - one, as a form of identification to make sure you are who you say you are, and two, by the airline to make sure that you are legally allowed (visa-wise) to enter the country where you are going. If you have a ticket to a country where you (by nationality) require a visa, then they won't let you travel without that visa in your passport (because if you are denied entrance then the airline has to pay to bring you back). So in your case, as an American travelling into Europe, they will let you go, as a visa is issued on arrival. So for the purposes of leaving America and while you are at the airport it is totally irrelevant which passport you use, just pick one and use that one consistently at the airport to not cause any issues.

 

When you arrive in Germany, you want to use your German passport. If you were to use your American one, you would be issued a 90 day tourist visa. (Ok, so if you are staying less than 90 days then you could enter on your American one...but I can't find any good reason why would want to.

 

For leaving Germany I would be tempted to use the American one, personally, although really although it is the same principal as when leaving the US. And most definitely you enter the States on your American passport.

 

HTH.

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I've had to go through this myself as a dual national.

 

One rule of thumb: present your in-country passport to official bodies. DO NOT present the other passport to any official (customs, police, etc.) within the country, as it can be seen as renouncing the other nationality. Most countries will not recognize this as a wish to renounce their nationality, but there is inherently less protection for dual nationals on this point, since the person is not left stateless if s/he lose one nationality.

 

Having said the foregoing, you can present either passport at US or DE check-in, and if they complain, show them the other. If you want to practice your German, use your DE; if you want to stick with English, use the US.

 

Also, at DE customs when returning to the US, ask the DE customs to stamp your US passport so that US customs will see where you are returning from when arriving back in the US. The DE customs officer always gives me a strange look when I give them both passports and ask them to stamp the US, but they always have done it for me. Safe travels and enjoy your trip.

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It is up to you which one you want to show. It is more important that you have both with you, and can show the other on request. Show both if you are unsure.

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ian:

 

As LeonG says, it is NOT up to you which passport you use when leaving and re-entering the USA.

 

US law clearly states that you MUST leave and re-enter the USA on a US passport and no other.

 

I wouldn't flout this requirement as the immigration official might get shitty on you.

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You're supposed to enter/leave the US on your US passport and Germany on your German passport because when in the US you are for legal purposes viewed solely as a US citizen and in Germany solely as a German citizen.

 

I'm not sure about being viewed "solely" as a US or German citizen - the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt has a photocopy of my German Einbürgerungsurkunde in my file, and in the Einwohnermeldeamt here my file states: Nationalität = D / USA.

 

So each knows about the other and it's not a problem.

 

However, as a U.S. citizen you are required to leave and enter the country with your U.S. passport.

 

(I don't know whether the Germans require the opposite - I've traveled D --> USA --> D with my kids who both have dual citizenship, and all they had at the time was their U.S. passport. Nobody batted an eyelash at any point.)

 

(Edit: this was in 1998, i.e. pre 9-11)

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This is correct what onemark says. The US Consulate is adament about this rule. US citizens are required by law to travel into and out of the US with their American passports. If you would rather not believe us, give the Consular Section a phone call and ask them.

 

That said, we have always taken my daughters German passport with us, just in case they ask why she does not have a residency visa in her American passport. Then, we were able to show this to the German officials as an explanation.

 

Entering and leaving countries on different passports is less than wise anyway. Think about it.

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That's actually very unclear. To me, at least. What you are saying is that the American government forced an American citizen to use their non-American passport to enter the country? Seems extremely strange, to me!

 

Generally, you use the passport that is most convenient. So to the OP when you are leaving the US, it is a free state and its citizens are allowed to come and go, so they do not care what passport you leave on. Your passport is being checked for two reasons only - one, as a form of identification to make sure you are who you say you are, and two, by the airline to make sure that you are legally allowed (visa-wise) to enter the country where you are going. If you have a ticket to a country where you (by nationality) require a visa, then they won't let you travel without that visa in your passport (because if you are denied entrance then the airline has to pay to bring you back). So in your case, as an American travelling into Europe, they will let you go, as a visa is issued on arrival. So for the purposes of leaving America and while you are at the airport it is totally irrelevant which passport you use, just pick one and use that one consistently at the airport to not cause any issues.

 

When you arrive in Germany, you want to use your German passport. If you were to use your American one, you would be issued a 90 day tourist visa. (Ok, so if you are staying less than 90 days then you could enter on your American one...but I can't find any good reason why would want to.

 

For leaving Germany I would be tempted to use the American one, personally, although really although it is the same principal as when leaving the US. And most definitely you enter the States on your American passport.

 

HTH.

 

Actually, you are very wrong. Sorry. But perhaps you read my post incorrectly or I wrote it poorly. The US government made it clear that it would be illegal for my children to use their valid German passports to travel to the US while having expired US passports. I had to get an emergency US passport for my child. I used the DE passport for them to leave Germany and to enter Germany.

 

If you left the US with a US passport after entering on a DE passport, you would be leaving without entering. That would be much easier to deal with than the other way around, of course. However, it is illegal for one, as a US citizen or permanent resident, to enter the US without showing one's US pass or Green card. Whether one feels it is inconvenient or not. According to the German government, it would be illegal for my children to enter Germany without using their DE passports. I doubt they would go to jail, but that is the law.

The concept is that when one enters a country one is a citizen of, the other citizenship is disregarded— the German embassy will not help my DE/US children in the US and the US embassy would not help them here. If you entered as a citizen of the other country (using that pass), you would be flouting these riles, which are what allow the dual citizenship in the first place.

Not my opinion. The law. :)

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So I show my German one while checking in for my flight to Germany but show my American one to any customs person in the US? I know I have to use the American one to both enter and leave, but at what point in the airport am I "leaving" the USA? I'll be in Germany for 6 months, so it'd be a good idea to enter and leave Germany on my German passport I think...Thank you!

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gail, do you work for the Embassy? I have never heard such nonsense, that the US embassy will not help dual German / American dual citizens while living here in Germany. That is crap and not true. Dual citizen is just that, you have 2 citizenships, and one citizenship does not cancel out the other one.

 

What do you think people do who have triple citizenship, like Jewish people who had dual citizenship and then also took on Isreali citizenship too?

 

It certainly is not inconvenient to enter the US with an American passport, though it becomes inconvenient with a German one. Why would someone go out of their way to get mishandled by the Immigration officials if not needed. Coming back into Germany, do you let your 5 year old child go get in the EU line by themselves at the airport while you stand in the non-EU line? The passport folks could care less which countries' passport you are using as long as it is valid.

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Yes, although the Zöll/Customs is not the border patrol.

Use your US pass with US border control, use your DE pass with DE border people. Lucky you, skipping the Auslander line :) . I have just gotten my permanent residency here, so next time I get to enter the DE nationals line as well.

For the airport personnel, who are unimportant in all terms except annoying you if they become confused, you use whatever passport number you used when you bought the ticket, so as not to confuse them :D .

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I'm not sure about being viewed "solely" as a US or German citizen - the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt has a photocopy of my German Einbürgerungsurkunde in my file, and in the Einwohnermeldeamt here my file states: Nationalität = D / USA.

 

So each knows about the other and it's not a problem.

 

However, as a U.S. citizen you are required to leave and enter the country with your U.S. passport.

 

(I don't know whether the Germans require the opposite - I've traveled D --> USA --> D with my kids who both have dual citizenship, and all they had at the time was their U.S. passport. Nobody batted an eyelash at any point.)

 

(Edit: this was in 1998, i.e. pre 9-11)

 

OK, I'll rephrase that to make it a bit clearer- your US citizenship is irrelevant in Germany as regards your interaction with the German state, e.g., the Vienna Convention would not apply to you if you were to be charged with a crime.

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Actually, you are very wrong. Sorry. But perhaps you read my post incorrectly or I wrote it poorly.

 

You corrected yourself after you wrote it, I was posting at the time of your correction. So it was your error in your first post that caused the confusion. SO no, it wasn't me that was wrong, it was you.

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OK, I'll rephrase that to make it a bit clearer- your US citizenship is irrelevant in Germany as regards your interaction with the German state

 

Much clearer now :) your earlier comment made it sound like each country didn't recognize the other citizenship.

 

Edit: me, charged with a crime?? :blink:

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I have just gotten my permanent residency here, so next time I get to enter the DE nationals line as well.

Says who? The signs say "EU Passport" holders.

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