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I have a European passport which is currently valid (born in Europe) and a US passport (parents are American) which expired a while back (issued before I turned 16). Because of this I don't think I can "renew" as one normally would -- I would need to make a new passport application.

Issue: I need to make a business trip to the US in 7 weeks; I first thought an ESTA would do fine (and I suppose I technically could, if I did not mention during my trip that I am a US citizen), but it seems clear that legally, I need to enter/leave the US with a US passport if I'm a citizen.

What is my best course of action here? If the trip were in 3 months I would obviously get a new passport, but this is a tighter time frame, and I also need to provide my passport details to the agency with which I work for booking travel.

Any help would be appreciated.

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    why bother telling the airline about the US passport, do they care which document you use? then tell the us about the expired passport at customs. does the person at the customs checkpoint know what document the airline used? do they care? – Sam Sep 5 at 2:37
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    @sam there's no way the airline will let you board with a European passport only and no esta. And there's no way to get an esta in that scenario without lying, which would be a really bad idea. – Flexo Sep 5 at 7:15
  • Does anyone think that if the time frame was shorter then rerouting the trip to fly to Canada or Mexico and then entering the US via land would be a good option? – user3067860 Sep 5 at 13:26
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    @user3067860 That would work; in fact flying to Canada is possible with only e.g. a US birth certificate – Crazydre Sep 5 at 16:26
  • I haven't looked into when you're outside the U.S., but at least when you're inside the U.S., you can pay a bit extra to expedite your application, even if your travel is only 2 weeks out. – reirab Sep 5 at 20:16
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7 weeks should be enough time for a new passport. I would suggest you contact your local US consulate immediately and get the process started, letting them know of your time constraint. There are likely to be ways to expedite the process if necessary, but I don't think it will be necessary.

As for the agency, I would just explain to them that you have applied for a new passport and you will give them its number as soon as you get it. There should not be any real need to have this information until you actually check in for your flight.

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I just checked the processing times for a US passport application at a few embassies:

I just checked the appointment offerings in London as an example, and they have 38 spots open tomorrow. They have at least one spot on every weekday this month except for the 9th, 16th, 26th, and 30th.

Wherever you are, seven weeks is more than enough time.

  • Did you consider the wait time to get an appointment? (I admit I don't know how that works with the US, but that would take the lion's share of I tried to renew my Spanish passport at London) – Diego Sánchez Sep 5 at 10:35
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    @DiegoSánchez I did consider that, but I could not find a way to determine how long it would be. In my experience it wasn't very long, but that was nearly 20 years ago and it was for adding pages, not applying for a new passport, so it is probably not particularly relevant. – phoog Sep 5 at 11:26
  • I would at least mention it for completeness. – Diego Sánchez Sep 5 at 15:03
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    @DiegoSánchez done. It seems not to be a problem, certainly not in London. – phoog Sep 5 at 16:04
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While indeed there's enough time for a passport, since we are a QA site let's review whether flying with this combo is feasible. The problem is not the border because citizens are let in one way or another and an expired passport is enough to prove citizenship, the problem is at check in. The question is whether airline would let them check in with a valid passport to prove who they are and an expired passport proving citizenship. Airlines are required to fill APIS data for everyone departing to the USA (and AFAIK APIS shows them whether a passport has ESTA or not) and the eAPIS portal does support entering two documents:

There are some rare instances where a traveler may choose to have two travel documents submitted (most likely an alien registration card number and a passport) on his/her behalf. When a traveler has an alien registration card number, it must be submitted as the primary travel document.

source and the same PDF details validation elements and it would seem it's possible to enter an expired document, only the well formedness of the data is validated. I do not know whether the version used by airlines support the same. Contacting the CBP is in order, I will do so and report back.

Here's a worksheet from that PDF showing two documents:

enter image description here

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    You had me at "the problem is at check-in". – Harper Sep 4 at 17:39
  • I doubt the system would authorize boarding a passenger with an expired US passport because that would violate 8 USC 1185(b). Also I've read the APIS documentation and if I recall correctly the secondary document cannot be another passport; it has to be a visa or green card or the like. I well check later if I have time. – phoog Sep 4 at 17:44
  • the second document is most likely meant to be a refugee status card or something of the kind. – jwenting Sep 5 at 3:33
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    If your other passport is Canadian this whole rigmarole doesn't apply because Canadians don't need an ESTA so the airline will let you board with a Canadian passport no matter what. – chx Sep 5 at 17:53
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    A point of reference re: "an expired passport proving citizenship". I would hope a federal gov't agency (CBP) would be more reasonable about an expired passport than my state's BMV was. They wouldn't accept an expired passport as proof of DOB after I discovered they'd put the wrong DOB on my driver's license. I ended up having the wrong DOB on my DL for nearly 20 years until I got a copy of my birth certificate to prove they'd made a mistake. Different scenario, I know, but not everyone applies common sense if the document is expired. – FreeMan Sep 6 at 12:41
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I didn't think this would work, but I successfully bought a plane ticket on a Canadian Passport, and went through immigration on a EU passport (both current.) There were multiple windows open for EU passports, and a single for non-EU citizens. I would have missed my flight if I waited at the Other Passports window, and decided to chance it at the EU terminals. Went right through, no extra questions asked.

This was in 2018 or later at a human-staffed window, but sadly I can't remember at which EU airport.

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    the question asks about entering the US. Unlike most other countries, the US insists that dual citizens enter with their US passports only. This creates a dilemma that doesn't apply to a Canadian with a European passport entering Europe. – Kate Gregory Sep 5 at 12:18
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    @KateGregory but the implication is that it should be fine for OP to give her non-US passport details to the travel agent now if that is necessary before buying the ticket. It's not usually a problem to travel with a different passport than the one given at the time of purchase. I do it all the time. – phoog Sep 5 at 12:33
  • @phoog yes but the EU passport isn’t sufficient without a visa, which can’t be obtained without deceit. – Notts90 Sep 6 at 9:50
  • @Notts90 the travel agent can take the EU passport details to book the ticket. It's not necessary to confirm visa or ESTA details until just before the flight to the US. They or the airline can enter the US passport details when the US passport becomes available, or when the traveler checks in for the flight. – phoog Sep 6 at 13:52
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    I was born in the UK and that fact is in my Canadian passport. I have entered the UK on that passport multiple times, and sometimes tell the officer I was born in the UK. It is a non issue. It might be an interesting question to sort the countries of the world into no dual citizens, dual must enter on our passport, dual can enter on either passport. My guess is more #3 than #2. – Kate Gregory Sep 6 at 22:06
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From personal experience. They will cause a fuss, but given you are still an american citizen, they can't really turn you away. I know you can get a certain type of visa at airport if you ask travel staff.

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    True, but some of us would rather not sit in the back room for a few hours... – Michael Hampton Sep 6 at 9:42
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    What do you mean by "travel staff"? I was under the impression that there is no kind of visa on arrival available in the US and, in any case, US citizens are not eligible for US visas. If you mean at the departure airport, perhaps you mean getting an ESTA? That used to be possible (and didn't require any staff; just internet access) but now ESTAs must be applied for 72 hours in advance; previously, 72 hours was only a recommendation. – David Richerby Sep 6 at 10:28

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