I'll be going back to the US in February for 10 days or so and up until this year, I've always traveled with my US passport and my Italian ID card to prove my EU citizenship since I live in the EU. This year I decided to get an Italian passport as well since Dutch customs were being problematic about my Italian ID card each time upon re-entry. Id I travel to the US on my US passport and travel back to the Netherlands on my Italian one, am I required to get an ESTA on my Italian passport for the trip back or is that not necessary?

  • European customs often get upset about Italian paper IDs, especially when they are renewed with a stamp than replaced as any ID is supposed to be on expiry Nov 13 '18 at 9:56

No. ESTA is only for entry into the US. You do not need ESTA to leave the US.

Source: I am also an EU/US dual citizen, and I routinely use my EU passport to leave the US. I have never applied for ESTA.


US citizens must declare their citizenship when entering the US; and they are never eligible for ESTA (nor would they ever need one).

So you must always use your US passport when you enter the US - and can use whichever one you want when leaving.

Source: see https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html?execution=e1s1# :

[...] If you are a citizen of the U.S., and also of a VWP country, you should not be applying for ESTA. One of the requirements of being a naturalized U.S. citizen is that you apply for, and use, a U.S. passport for your travels. [...]

  • 3
    There are actually a few reports on this site of dual citizens obtaining ESTA despite disclosing their US citizenship on the ESTA application. So the US (unlike Canada with its eTA) apparently does not take the position that its citizens are ineligible. On the other hand, there is also a report here of someone who was stopped at preclearance when she tried to fly to the US with a foreign passport and ESTA, so it seems that if one wants to do this one should avoid pre-cleared flights.
    – phoog
    Nov 12 '18 at 16:38
  • With regard to your edit, it is certainly correct that US law requires US citizens to have a valid US passport, but I note that the wording of the quote you've added is not inconsistent with the earlier comment. Where the US says "should not be applying for ESTA," Canada says that its citizens "cannot" apply for eTA (canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/…). (The CBP page also errs in assuming that a dual citizen is a naturalized US citizen; passport requirements for US citizens are the same regardless of whether they are naturalized.)
    – phoog
    Nov 12 '18 at 16:56
  • 2
    I am not sure why you think it is important to point out to the OP how he might be able to get away with not following the policy. I focused on how he is supposed to do it.
    – Aganju
    Nov 12 '18 at 17:11
  • 4
    I agree with the focus on how things are supposed to be done, but the statement that "US citizens are never eligible for ESTA" appears to be incorrect.
    – phoog
    Nov 12 '18 at 17:54

Simple rule for dual nationals:

Present the passport of each nationality to immigration officials of that same nationality - whether entering or leaving the country. For example, when you’re in the USA, show your USA passport to border officers; and when you’re in Italy, show your Italian passport.

This establishes to them that you’re one of their own citizens, therefore there are no restrictions on your immigration status.

When dealing with airline staff, present the passport of the country you’re travelling to.

This confirms to the airline that you have permission to enter your destination country.

Edit: And to nail down the point to answer the question: no. You’re a USA citizen. You don’t require an ESTA, because you’re one of their own citizens... as demonstrated by your USA passport, which you will present to USA border officers on entry.

For exit, it’s a moot point anyway.

  • The only part of your answer that actually deals with the question is the last sentence, and you don't explain the one thing the asker needs to know. They want to get an ESTA for leaving the US: nobody needs an ESTA to do that. Nov 13 '18 at 16:34
  • I said: “For exit, it’s a moot point anyway.” Nov 13 '18 at 17:18
  • And I very much doubt that will make any sense whatsoever to somebody under the mistaken belief that you need an ESTA to exit the USA. That was the whole point of my comment! Nov 13 '18 at 17:18
  • Don’t you understand what a moot point is? Having read the main answer about holding USA citizenship, and therefore not being subject to immigration restrictions, it’s plainly obvious. ESTAs don’t come into it for USA nationals, either way. Nov 13 '18 at 17:23
  • Yes, I understand what a moot point is but please bear in mind that many users of this site are not native speakers of English. Your answer would be improved by directly answering the asker's question, rather than making a long series of statements from which they can deduce the answer, assuming they understand everything. I really don't understand why you're so resistant to just explicitly answering the question. Nov 13 '18 at 17:27

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