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I am a US and EU citizen residing in the US. I am going backpacking throughout Africa and want to travel on my EU passport. My flight is US–Paris–Tunis–Cairo. When do I use each passport? Do I book my flight on the US passport or the EU passport? Can I leave the US on my US passport and then switch mid-flight and enter Paris with my EU passport?

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4 Answers 4

The only significant restriction I know of is that you must enter the US with your US passport (there may be a restriction by the country of issue of your EU passport, but probably not). Therefore you need to carry both passports.

It doesn't matter which passport you book your outbound flight with, but it's probably a good idea to book your flight back to the US on your US passport, which if it's a return flight implies booking both on that. If you are only transiting in Paris you shouldn't need to pass border control, so it shouldn't matter which passport you use there.

You will need visas for many African countries, so present the passport that you used to get the visa when you enter that country. Present the passport that you used to book a flight when you get on that plane. Present the passport that you used to enter a country when you exit it. Should be a simple enough as long as you don't confuse airline checkin with outgoing border control.

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One doesn't necessarily book flights with any passport. Airlines collect passport data for check-in; lately they give you the opportunity to provide the information at booking, but it is not necessary. I always check in for flights to Europe with my EU passport, and for flights to US with my US passport; these are almost always return tickets, and it has never caused the slightest problem, nor has anyone even seemed to notice. –  phoog Sep 11 at 12:27

Since you are a US citizen, you don't need to worry about the US using passenger records to implement the electronic I-94 system, and the possible confusion that using multiple passports may cause there.

You will obviously require your US passport upon returning to the US. You can book all your flights using your EU passport, and keep your US passport somewhere safe for the duration of your travels.

On your final flight back to the US, you may be asked about the lack of an ESTA on your EU passport to enter the US (which normally an EU passport holder would require). However, showing your US passport to the airline agent at that time should clear up any question about whether you will be allowed to enter the US.

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You can avoid being asked about the lack of an ESTA on your final flight back to the US by checking in with your US passport. –  phoog Sep 11 at 12:24

You generally must always enter and exit a country on the same passport.

The passport you exit a country with does not have to be the same one as the one you enter the next country with.

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I have two passports, I generally book my flight using whichever one works better at the destination. I leave my country of residence using my passport-with-visa. There appears to be no connection between immigration control and the airlines - the airlines want to know that you are able to enter the destination country (or they get a nice big penalty) and my country of residence simply wants to know that I didn't overstay my visa.

On more than one occasion I have used the "wrong" passport to book the flight and simply handed the other one to the destination's immigration. They don't even blink.

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Indeed. The airline is mostly concerned with your identity. The only point at which they care about your nationality is right before you get on the plane, when they want to be as sure as they can that the destination country will let you in. I always show my Dutch passport when I'm flying to the EU and my US one when flying to the US. No blinking for me, either. –  phoog Aug 18 at 23:38

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