Did you know that having dual citizenship can be very beneficial for your travels? Yes, depending on which passports you hold, having more than one passport will expand the list of countries you can easily visit in addition to reducing the number of countries that will require a visa.
It is estimated that just 1% of the world’s population carries two or more passports, so in this post, I’ll show you how to take advantage of this privilege.
First, understand which passports you hold and how beneficial they are for travel. The US passport as well as any EU passport, Norwegian, Israeli, Brazilian, among a few others, are excellent for travel. On the other hand, a passport from Afghanistan or Vietnam might not open as many doors all around the world. Each nation’s passport holds a unique relationship with other countries, and it is important you know where you are allowed to visit with your passport, and under which circumstances.
For starters, you can do a Wikipedia search for "visa requirements for [country] citizens" to get an overview of which countries you can enter visa-free or with a visa. Do this for both passports. Then, when you decide where to travel to, you must choose which passport would be best to enter the country based on what you learned from your initial research.
Let’s say, for example, that I want to travel to Russia and I have a US passport and a Brazilian passport. As you might have guessed, the US passport is more "powerful" than the Brazilian, but wait… US citizens are required to obtain an expensive and complicated visa before leaving the country to enter Russia while Brazilian citizens can simply show up at the border with their passport and walk in – no visa required.
In this scenario, this is how I would use my two passports. I would leave the US with my US passport since I must always leave my country of citizenship with its corresponding passport. BUT, at the airport, when doing check-in for my flight to Russia, I’ll probably be asked for my Russian visa (which I don’t have in my US passport). In this case, I’ll present the Brazilian passport too to give evidence that I can enter Russia with it and that I don’t need the visa for the US passport.
I’ll enjoy my flight, and once I arrive Russia, I’ll head to immigration and present the Brazilian passport – the one that does not require a visa.
Here’s an important tip: if an immigration officer asks you if you have more than one passport, do NOT lie and say no. Simply say yes and present your other passport too, even if that passport requires a visa to enter. They will not try to make things hard for you and require a visa or anything; they are just following protocol.
So, I enter Russia, and even though I was born and raised in the US, in theory, I’m a Brazilian while in Russia since that’s the passport I used to enter. Which means, should I have any emergency and need to contact an Embassy, I should contact first the Brazilian embassy. If they can’t help, then I’ll contact the US Embassy and explain the situation.
When I’m ready to leave Russia, I’ll exit the country using the Brazilian passport, of course, since that is the one they have on record at immigration.
Once I reach the US, I will pass through immigration and enter the country with the US passport, since it is my home country and I will be entering as a citizen.
Should I fly somewhere else other than the US, I could choose to use either the Brazilian passport again or the US passport. It depends on the next destination and which passport is more convenient. Needless to say, should I be flying to Brazil, I would use the Brazilian passport since it will allow me to stay there for as long as I want (since I’m a citizen) without the expensive visa fee required for the US passport.
This switching process can also be done when crossing borders overland. Some countries do require seeing the exit stamp from the previous country you just exited by land, but as long as you show them that proof, you can use either passport to enter your next destination.
Another thing to have in mind when choosing passports is that if you’re planning on traveling to several countries and will opt to get visas along the way, you can only get a visa to X country with the passport you were allowed to enter the current country. For example, let’s say you have a US and Dominican passport and are currently in Brazil as a US citizen. You decide last minute you want to cross to Paraguay and wish to get the visa in Brazil with the Dominican passport since it is much cheaper than with the US passport. Unfortunately, you can’t, since consulates and embassies only give you visas for passports that were used to enter the country where you are currently located. So, keep that in mind!
As you can see, two passports are better than one, and if you have this opportunity, make the best out of it by seeing the most you can all around the world!
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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