I am a US citizen holding multiple passports. The problem is that my US passport is getting very full despite having 6 more years on it. There are Visas on my passport which I do not want to lose when I get a new passport. I will be traveling to few countries and was thinking of using my non-US passport to exit the country. My intent is to ration my US passport usage. I also know a US Citizen must have US passport to enter and exit the country. Entering is a "no duh". Exiting.. well, we don't have exit checks in the US so I consider that a gray area. see para (b) https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1185

Question 1. Can I use this non US passport to exit the country? Does the airline even care I as a US citizen am not using a passport to travel as long as the destinations are valid for entry with this non-US passport? This passport has no US visa on it to allow me to enter. Therefore, I cannot enter or reside in the US with this passport.

The first leg of my trip includes a 1 day layover in Japan which I plant to exit the airport and walk around tokyo. My non-US passport will allow me into Japan visa free.

The next leg is from Japan to Vietnam. Vietnam requires a visa authorization letter (from both my passports) and then they will issue a visa on arrival (which takes up an entire page on my passport plus half a page for entry/exit stamps). My intent is to obtain a visa authorization and arrival on this non-US passport.

Question 2: When I check to my flight leaving the US. Can I just show my non-US passport with the visa authorization for vietnam? Or will I will I be rejected as I don't have an authorization for my US passport?

Alternatively, I was thinking of getting visa authorization letter for both passports. They are cheap. I can just show US passport at check in with visa authorization. This will clear the airline to let me board. when I arrive in Japan I can whip out my non US passport. When I arrive in Vietnam I can whip out my non-US passport with the visa authorization letter. this way I have avoided losing 2-3 pages in my US passport.

The next leg is to the country of my non-US passport. This is inconsequential to my issues.

The final leg is back to the US and I will enter using US passport. No stamps on entry.

  • 1
    Why don’t you take both passports with you, exiting the US with your US passport and entering the other countries with your non-US one? You can check in with the US passport and if they ask for your visa/authorization to enter your destination, you show the other passport too.
    – mdd
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 12:42
  • If you get a new US passport, will that void the visas in the old passport?
    – Newton
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 12:47
  • 1
    @Newton it depends on the country issuing the visa. For Russia, at least, yes.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 13:00
  • 1
    @Andy S wrote " Therefore, I cannot enter or reside in the US with this passport." Not sure if this is just badly worded or indicates genuine confusion. A US citizen does not need any document at all to reside in the US. Once a US citizen enters the country lawfully, the passport that was used becomes irrelevant. Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 13:38
  • 2

2 Answers 2


There's no law requiring you to "use" a US passport when you leave the US. The statute you link to requires only that you "bear" a valid US passport. If you have it with you, you are certainly bearing it. Furthermore, there is no penalty for violating that law; the penalty was removed in 1978.

I check in all the time for flights departing the US with my non-US passport. Nobody has ever asked about my immigration status. If they did I would simply show my US passport. If they asked me why I didn't check in with it, I would say that I'm going to use the other passport at my destination and I don't want to get the airline or myself in trouble by showing a different document from the one on the passenger manifest.

  • I think we already had that discussion, but it happened to me on a few occasions when leaving the US on a non-US passport that they asked the question. It was probably back when there were paper I-94s and she didn't find the stub attached to the passport. Not sure if the electronic system in use now would provide any immediate feedback of a missing matching I-94 record.
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 13:54
  • @jcaron yes, they normally should have asked in the days of paper I-94s, but they never asked me. They weren't exactly diligent about that; my wife has half a dozen or so uncollected paper I-94s stored with her old passports. The degree of interaction between the airline and CBP seems to depend on the airline. I usually fly to Europe on European airlines, which never say anything when I present my EU passport, and neither did United when I flew to Portugal last summer.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 14:17

Regarding Vietnam, to save pages, at least as a US citizen (what is your other citizenship?) you can simply get an e-visa instead of an authorisation to get a visa on arrival. You will then only get entry and exit stamps in the passport.

Also, airlines don't usually care about your immigration status, and as you said the US doesn't do border control on exit. So when checking in for the flight to Japan, you can show either passport and it won't make any difference regarding the space in your US passport.

  • Sorry, previous comment interrupted. "airlines don't care about your immigration status": this seems to be changing. When I checked in with my wife to fly from JFK to Dakar on Delta in 2016, the kiosk asked her to scan her visa (she has a non-VWP-eligible passport, but her status would require a visa regardless). We were a bit pressed for time, so I decided not to scan my (VWP-eligible) non-US passport, since I wasn't going to use it to enter Senegal. I suspect that this may have had something to do with the US government's enhancement of its exit controls (the "biometric entry-exit system").
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 14:12
  • @Coke thanks for the e-visa info. I will get a e-visa for my US passport to enter Vietnam as my other passport is not eligible and avoid the VOA line. This way, I will only lose 1/2 page for entry/exit stamp. Another thing I realized is that my names don't match on my two passports! Another new event is that I will be going to a yet another country on same trip. I will also use my non-US passport to enter that Schengen country. The next time around, I need to bite the bullet, get the US 52 page passport and to fix my name!
    – Andy S
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 9:52
  • @AndyS You only use one passport to enter/exit a country, so your names differing is not a problem
    – Crazydre
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 10:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .