I'm a dual US/Italian citizen and before my most recent trip to the US I had always used my US passport to enter the US when going there. When exiting, I would use my US passport and then also show my Italian ID card to Dutch authorities when arriving there to prove my EU citizenship (I live there).

This year I decided to also get an Italian passport as proof of my EU citizenship since the ID card was starting to wear and Dutch customs officials were pointing this out each time. Now not being familiar with how to travel with two passports, when I checked-in at the self-service kiosks at the airport in the US on my date of departure I used my Italian passport instead of my US one (which made sense to me at the time). I did use my US one to get in the country, but I've read that one must use their US passport to both enter and leave the country.

Are there consequences I am going to face for this? Is there any way to correct my departure information from the US with the authorities?

2 Answers 2


Don't worry about it. I have been doing this for years. The only reason to be concerned about having your US departure recorded correctly is to ensure that the US does not record you as an overstayer. But since you're a US citizen, you cannot overstay.

The law concerning US citizens entering and leaving the US does not actually require you to use a US passport. It requires you to bear it. Furthermore, there is no penalty for failing to comply with that law.

There are some future developments you may want to keep your eye on. The EU is planning to implement ETIAS in a couple of years. This is a pre-boarding authorization system similar to ESTA in the US. I have seen a couple of documents saying that EU citizens will be required to use their EU passports to enter the Schengen area after the system is implemented, though most documents, including the actual regulation, are silent on this. Additionally, the US is tightening its exit controls, controversially including plans to collect biometrics from US citizens on exit. Either one of these could remove the ability of a dual US/EU citizen to choose which passport to present at check-in when flying from the US to the Schengen area, and, taken together, they would require such travelers to present both passports.

  • 1
    I think the requirement to bear a US passport is so that you can prove citizenship on any subsequent re-entry attempt. If you left the US without a US passport, authorities might not believe you are a citizen and might not let you back in, especially not as easily or quickly (connecting flight?) as you'd like. Pointing to this law, immigration agents can say it's your responsibility to have the passport; anything they do to help someone who has failed to meet this responsibility is at their option and on a timeline convenient for them, not necessarily for the traveler.
    – WBT
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 15:44
  • @WBT Immigration agents never had any responsibility to help people have the proper documents. Even a US citizen who can prove no intention ever to return to the US, or that he or she would be spending a year living 100 meters from the US embassy with ample opportunity to get a new passport, could be prevented by a federal officer from leaving the US without a valid US passport. Conversely, the officer could not use that law to prevent the person from leaving on the passport's expiration date, even though they wouldn't be able to return without getting another passport abroad.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 16:05
  • "Additionally, the US is tightening its exit controls, controversially including plans to collect biometrics from US citizens on exit." Do you have a source for this?
    – Sam Skuce
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 20:08
  • 1
    @SamSkuce reginfo.gov/public/do/…
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 20:28

I've read that one must use their US passport to both enter and leave the country.

Let's read 8 USC § 1185(b) (Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, § 215(b)), “Travel Control of Aliens and Citizens":

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.

That doesn't say anything about using one, only bearing one and that's hardly a surprise because there are no exit checks. You are checking in to a flight but that is not an exit check conducted by the authorities. But this legal wrangling is pointless because the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1979 have removed all penalties. This is a crime you can commit without consequences. Yay, laws.

Now that's cleaned up, head over to I have two passports/nationalities. How do I use them when I travel? and reda how to use your passports. Bon voyage!

  • 1
    Many states now offer enhanced driver licenses to US citizens so that they can travel to Canada and Mexico without passports. This fact alone makes this law completely pointless.
    – Evgeny
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 18:17

You must log in to answer this question.

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