I have dual citizenship (Japan and USA). I have been to Iran with my Japanese passport.

I would like to know if a US citizen with dual citizenship should hand in both passports when entering USA, and, if the other passport has arrival visa of Iran, can the US government deny me entry in the USA?

  • 72
    A USA national can always enter the USA, no matter what.
    – ugoren
    Sep 14, 2017 at 12:56
  • 11
    During WW2, right? Sep 14, 2017 at 15:51
  • 6
    @PatrickT it seems rather that a US national of Japanese descent (regardless of other citizenships) who sought to enter the US at a port of entry might have been detained on entry, and no doubt interned, but not denied entry to the country.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2017 at 17:34
  • 19
    I thought Japan didn't allow dual citizenship.
    – JoL
    Sep 14, 2017 at 19:01
  • 12
    @JoL Japan allows dual citizenship for kids having a Japanese and a foreign parent, once you turn 18 you must choose one of the citizenships (source: Japanese wife)
    – Konamiman
    Sep 15, 2017 at 7:20

4 Answers 4


I would like to know if dual nationality US citizen should hand in both passports when entering USA

There's nothing requiring a US citizen to show foreign passports on entering the US, or even to mention other nationalities. As mentioned in other answers, there is a US law requiring you to "bear" a US passport when you enter the US, which strongly implies that you must also use it to do so.

As far as the immigration interview is concerned, once you establish that you are a US citizen, the interview is over and you must be admitted. (You can continue to be detained, however, for reasons related to the customs inspection, or for investigation of other crimes.)

I have never shown my foreign passport to a US immigration inspector, because I've heard a few anecdotes from people who've done so and had some degree of trouble as a result. I am always tempted to show it to see what kind of reaction I get, but so far my desire to get home and get some sleep has always prevailed over my curiosity.

From the CBP Inspector's Field Manual, which is available in at least two redacted versions online (emphasis added):

When you are convinced that an applicant for admission is a citizen of the United States, the examination is terminated. This is not to say that your role as an inspector is always completed at that time. Listing of the subject in a lookout system may dictate further action, such as notifying Customs or another agency of the person's entry.

It must be emphasized that the grounds of inadmissibility contained in 212(a) of the INA are applicable only to aliens. Consequently, the examination of a person claiming to be a United States citizen is limited to matters required to establish present citizenship. Once you are satisfied the person being examined is a U.S. citizen and any required lookout query has been completed, the examination is over.

  • 6
    Having a bear would certainly make the border crossing easier!
    – user4188
    Sep 16, 2017 at 11:59
  • 5
    @chx Customs might have a problem with it, but as long as you can scare them off long enough to leave before backup arrives, you should be ok. Future border crossings might become difficult, though.
    – reirab
    Sep 16, 2017 at 23:46
  • Do not show your Japanese passport in the US. None of their business.

  • Do not show your US passport in Japan. You would lose you Japanese citizenship.

As others said, you cannot be denied entry in the US. Also, you have to enter the US with your US passport.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 17, 2017 at 9:12

As a US citizen you cannot be refused entry to the US.

They may (theoretically) give you a living hell if they feel like it, suspect you of associating with terrorists, or whatever. But they can never refuse you entry into your own country.

  • 21
    And there is no reason to even show them your other passport or mention that it exists.
    – WGroleau
    Sep 14, 2017 at 13:09
  • 2
    Thank you for your comments. I didn't know that there is no reason to show my other passport. That's important information for me. I can sleep well today. thank you very much. Sep 14, 2017 at 15:47
  • 1
    @MargaretBenjamine Yes, when you land you¨ll scan your US passport at a kiosk (at most Airports) and get a receipt. Present the US passport and receipt to the officer
    – Crazydre
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:00
  • 1
    Indeed they can give you a very hard time indeed, and detain you as long as they want, before admitting you. But they must eventually admit you if you have a valid US passport. Don't show them any documents you don't need to show them. Answer any questions they ask succinctly and respectfully, without elaborating or volunteering anything they didn't ask about. Always address them as "sir" or "ma'am" as you would any police officer.
    – O. Jones
    Sep 14, 2017 at 21:10
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    @O.Jones "as long as they want": not really. They have to have a reason for detaining a US citizen at the border.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2017 at 23:14

As per the U.S Embassy & Consulates in Japan website:

Which Passport to Use

Section 215 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1185) requires U.S. Citizens to use U.S. passports when entering or leaving the United States unless one of the exceptions listed in Section 53.2 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations applies. Dual nationals may be required by the other country of which they are citizens to enter and leave that country using its passport, but do not endanger their U.S. citizenship by complying with such a requirement.

  • 6
    The source you've quoted actually mischaracterizes the statute, which requires only that US citizens "bear" a valid US passport; it doesn't require them actually to "use" it. This is significant for those leaving the US, who may want to check in for a flight with a foreign passport if they'll be using that passport on arrival abroad.
    – phoog
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:38

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