I have dual nationality of UK and Canada but was born and live in UK and have never been to Canada. I obtained the citizenship and passport through my dad who was born in Canada. I am traveling to the US to visit some English friends who are driving from San Francisco to Vancouver (they are English and have been living in Vancouver for 2 years). I am then flying from Vancouver to Montreal and driving down to Vermont to visit an American friend. I will fly back to UK from Montreal. The whole trip is less than one month. Can I just use my Canadian passport and not bother with an ESTA? I hope that makes sense, any help much appreciated!


  • Related question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/134515/…
    – Traveller
    Apr 6, 2019 at 11:44
  • Sure, but as the linked question explains, you should use the UK passport for the return journey. Apr 6, 2019 at 14:54
  • @MichaelHampton it's probably better to check in for the return flight with the Canadian passport so the US will be less likely to record an overstay.
    – phoog
    Apr 6, 2019 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Yes. As a dual citizen, you can choose which passport to present to the United States. If you use your UK passport (without a visa), you will be treated as a visa waiver program applicant, which means that you will need ESTA authorization to fly to the US.

If you present your Canadian passport, you will be treated as any other Canadian citizen, which in this case means that you will not need a visa. As a prospective "visitor for pleasure," you will be a B-2 applicant for admission. Entering in B-2 status has several advantages over the VWP, most notably that you will normally be admitted for six months rather than 90 days.

You will of course have to check in for the flight with your Canadian passport as well, because the airline will only allow you to board the plane with your UK passport if you have valid ESTA authorization.

For the return journey, I would actually recommend checking in with the Canadian passport so your departure is more likely to be correctly recorded in the US system. When you arrive in the UK, of course, it will be simplest to show your UK passport.

However, it is not strictly necessary to use the Canadian passport. Even if the US does not record your departure, you can set the record straight after the fact. You can check at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov.

As noted in a comment, you also should not hesitate to show the UK passport when you check in if there is any question about your admissibility to the UK after you've shown the Canadian passport. You can explain that you checked in with the Canadian passport because you used it to enter the US and you wanted to make sure your exit record was matched to your entry record.

  • 1
    You can show both passports to the airline, although your Canadian passport would get you into the UK now. Might change in the future, in which case you need to show the UK passport on boarding.
    – Willeke
    Apr 6, 2019 at 18:33
  • @Willeke the UK is exceedingly unlikely to impose a visa requirement on Canadians at any time, though it is of course possible. But if they can't already, airlines' systems will at some point have to be able to cope with sending different document information to the ports of departure and arrival. I'm not looking forward to the combination of ETIAS and stricter US exit controls for citizens.
    – phoog
    Apr 6, 2019 at 20:29
  • Thankyou, that's very helpful of you.
    – Fred
    Apr 7, 2019 at 10:23
  • This raises a question, if he flies into the US but drives out, as described, does the driving exit get recorded by CBP?
    – krubo
    Apr 7, 2019 at 20:33
  • 2
    @krubo if he drives to Canada, yes (because Canada and the US share entry records at their mutual border so the other country can create exit records); if to Mexico, no.
    – phoog
    Apr 7, 2019 at 21:18

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