I live in the US where I have a green card. I am in France (of which I am a citizen) and I lost my passport. Can I just use my green card to fly back to the US?

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    Do you have a French national ID card? – phoog Nov 16 '17 at 18:57
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    I edited the title to match the question body, since the answer may vary by destination country (especially if the destination country is also in the Schengen area.) Note also that if you're transiting a third country on the way to the U.S., you might also need the appropriate documents to enter that country if there is no international transit zone at the airport where the connection takes place. – reirab Nov 16 '17 at 22:11

You cannot use just a green card to fly from France to the US because you cannot clear the passport control for departing passengers with the green card. For that, you'll need either a French passport (which you do not have) or a French national ID card.

Even if you have both the green card and the national ID, the airline might require you to have a passport, but TIMATIC, the database they normally use to verify immigration documents, suggests that the two documents are sufficient, so you might be in luck.

If you do not have an identity card, you cannot get one urgently, but you can make an urgent application for a passport. Acceptable reasons for such an application are limited, however.

As you have lost your passport, you may want to review the relevant page at service-public.fr.

  • Is there a document that can be obtained rapidly that can allow me to clear the departing passport control? – azani Nov 16 '17 at 18:59
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    @azani you can try an urgent passport application, but you must have an acceptable reason; see the link above. – phoog Nov 16 '17 at 19:09
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    @azani Do you have a carte d'identité? – Crazydre Nov 16 '17 at 19:54
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    In my experience, the passport services in the small town mairies usually are most helpful in expediting passport delivery for emergency and work-related reasons. Last year, I realised a week before summer vacations that my son's passport had expired and managed to get a new one two days prior to departure, as the local officer called the préfecture to ask for priority processing. – Xi'an Nov 17 '17 at 7:22
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    I accepted this answer because it was most helpful to me. I ended up bugging the consular staff to issue me an emergency passport instead of a laisser passer (which they already had) and so I did not end up in the above situation after all. The answer was helpful mostly because it told me I really really needed to avoid the above. – azani Nov 17 '17 at 9:56

You will need either a valid passport or valid carte d'identité (CNI) to exit France.

To enter the US, the Green card is enough, as stated in Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Passport Exemptions: - Passengers with a Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551).

If you have a CNI, and end up using that and the Green card, you should print the linked Timatic extract and underline the quoted section with a pen, as it is not widely known among check-in staff that green cards constitute a passport exemption for the US.

If they decide to double-check for themselves, remind them to put US in the "Alien residency" field, or the green card won't be listed.

  • Even if the traveler had a passport, the US residency would have to be noted because otherwise the system would require a visa or ESTA, no? – phoog Nov 17 '17 at 3:10
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    I travelled from the UK to the US with only my Green Card last year. I carried a print out from Timatic and a print out of the relevant section of US law. It was a pain and I had to wait around as the airline confirmed with their immigration officer and I got a pointless scolding from them, but I was able to travel. – Dancrumb Nov 17 '17 at 4:57
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    @Dancrumb Could you please share the relevant section of US law that you showed to them? – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 17 '17 at 6:21
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    @phoog Yes, but check-in agents often think a passport and green card is needed. Not correct – Crazydre Nov 17 '17 at 13:01
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    @FranckDernoncourt Could be this help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1191/~/… – Crazydre Nov 17 '17 at 13:02

Besides the legal requirements, you would always have to check with the airline. I know first hand of a case where a passenger was denied at check-in with a combination of documents that immigration officer had confirmed to me were acceptable.

Because of the fines they receive when passegers are rejected, airlines tend to be overzealous about this.

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    The airline won't tell you anything on advance, so this advice is useless. In reality you have to check Timatic to verify what the airline's agent will see when you're boarding. – JonathanReez Nov 17 '17 at 11:14
  • You seem to be assuming that front desk employees at a check in station in a small airport are able to read the exceptional cases in several paragraphs of a Timatic record. I can assure you, by personal many-times experience, that's not the case. – Martin Argerami Nov 17 '17 at 12:19
  • @MartinArgerami They are able to, but you might indeed need to "guide" them (for example by saying "put France in nationality and US in Alien residency. Then check below "Passport exemptions") – Crazydre Nov 17 '17 at 13:03
  • @JonathanReez Also it's usually not even the Airline that checks you, but a local handling Agent. So if anything you might want to contact them – Crazydre Nov 17 '17 at 13:04

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