My daughter has dual citizenship: US/German.

We will be flying from Germany to the US in 6 weeks. Her US passport will expire during our stay in the US, but not on the day of our flight (4 days later). Do you think I should get ESTA for her? Just to make sure that the airline will let her board the plane? Will there be any problems with getting back to Germany without ESTA and with an expired US passport?

  • 1
    Although not a direct answer to your question, this travel.stackexchange.com/questions/52100/… might be useful reading
    – Traveller
    Jan 21, 2019 at 14:09
  • 17
    You should consider renewing her passport while you are in the US. Jan 21, 2019 at 16:36
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    Just to be clear, does she IN FACT HAVE IN HAND a valid EU passport? Which is not expiring?
    – Fattie
    Jan 21, 2019 at 19:13
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    @Dragonel yes, US embassies and consulates issue US passports. It's quite possible that that her current US passport was issued in Germany.
    – phoog
    Jan 22, 2019 at 2:00
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    @Fattie with regard to JJJ's comments on your now-deleted answer: I've flown to the EU without showing my US passport on numerous occasions. The late lamented Gayot Fow reported being asked to show his US passport when trying to leave the US on a non-US passport. I think it depends on the airline (I usually fly on European airlines, but I suspect that (some) US airlines cooperate more closely with CBP) and it may depend on whether the traveler is visiting the US (for example, on a ticket from Europe to the US and back) or lives there (for example, on a ticket from the US to Europe and back).
    – phoog
    Jan 22, 2019 at 2:08

4 Answers 4


Legally, she can enter the US with her US passport (since it will not yet have expired), but she will need to renew it before leaving:

Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport. (8 USC 1185 (b))

This would apply even though she is also a citizen of another country and has that country's passport.

That said, my understanding is that this law is not enforced, there are no prescribed penalties for violating it, and there are no exit checks on leaving the US. So practically speaking, if she were to not renew her US passport and depart with her German one instead, I wouldn't anticipate any legal problems arising. But it is technically against the law to do so.

(It's conceivable that the airline might raise some sort of objection. I'm afraid I don't have any specific knowledge on that point.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 23, 2019 at 6:57

No. She is a US citizen, so she can remain in the US indefinitely, so neither the airline nor US officials will require that her US passport is valid beyond her date of entry to the US, and she will not be denied boarding.

For the return flight, an ESTA is not required to leave the US, nor is there any passport control at the US border, so she can use her valid German passport to return to Germany. You won't have any issue in either direction.

  • 1
    That's great! Thanks for your quick response!
    – user90945
    Jan 21, 2019 at 14:03
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    If she is a US citizen she must enter the US as a US citizen. Jan 21, 2019 at 16:14
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    @Keeta That's a good point, but I based my assumption on the fact that they're contemplating applying for an ESTA, which they would only do if they had a valid passport, I would have thought!
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 21, 2019 at 16:18
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    @Marianne013 Yes, she should present her US passport, but I don't think that I am suggesting otherwise?
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 21, 2019 at 16:20
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    @Keeta you must show pasport to airline, not to leave the country, but to enter the other country. If you get to the other country and they refuse to land you, the airline is responsible to fly you back, and also they must pay fines for negligently allowing you on the airplane (unless the refusal was for something they could not have foreseen, like blowing the entry interview). Jan 21, 2019 at 17:33

As others pointed out, legally she must leave the US with her US passport. As an anecdote though, from my personal experience - I am a dual US/UK citizen and whenever I visit USA, I enter on my US passport. On an occasion, when leaving, I showed my UK passport during check in and had no problem. This was usually with either BA or Virgin Atlantic.

Again, this is not a suggestion to do that, but rather a confirmation that the law on leaving with the US passport may not necessarily be enforced.


I have done this with my son, travelling to the UK when we lived in the USA. His US passport had expired but his UK passport had not, so we presented both at US immigration and he was allowed to leave and re-enter.

This would have been at least 15 years ago, so rules may have changed since then.

  • 3
    This answer isn't relevant because 1) ESTA didn't exist 15 years ago, and 2) the question askers passport hasn't expired as at the time of entry
    – Doc
    Jan 22, 2019 at 2:56
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    My son's passport hadn't expired the previous time he entered the USA, either. Jan 22, 2019 at 3:09

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