So my US passport expired a few weeks back and I expedited the renewal process, however, I'm not sure it will arrive in time for me to fly out the Mexico in a couple weeks. I have dual citizenship for the US and Ireland, and I'm wondering if it would be any issue for me to leave the US with my Irish passport? I know I need my US passport for reentering the US, so I can either have my sister fly it down when she comes to meet our family as she'll be leaving a few days after me (or I believe I can have it FedEx-ed to a secure place if not)... Aside from the obvious question as to whether I'll get my US passport back in time for my departure, can anyone please tell me or confirm that exiting the US without my US passport won't be an issue?

3 Answers 3


The US doesn't have exit controls, so you won't have a problem usually. The regulation doesn't have a penalty to be enforced anyway. You don't need to be worried about the US here, but whether the airline will let you board or not, which depends on if you'll be able to enter your destination. I assume that on an Irish passport, you'll be able to enter visa-free in Mexico, although under a bit harsher conditions than with a US passport. You would probably get a migration/tourist card, which you have to keep on your person and give it back when leaving.

  • Yeah according to all the sites I've looked at, Irish passports don't need visas for getting into Mexico, and I've already updated my information for that passport on Delta so it shouldn't be an issue with the airline. I just had a bit of a panic attack when remembered they check your passport at the kiosk and the gate, but since that's not technically any sort of passport control or customs I suppose that won't be a problem... Thank you for the reassurance!! Definitely needed it
    – Bobbie
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 20:03
  • 1
    It's a statute, not a regulation, though that doesn't change the answer. @Bobbie there is one very unlikely scenario in which you might be prevented from flying, which is if you encounter a CBP spot check at the gate. They'll look into your immigration status, which means they'll discover that you're a US citizen, and then they would most likely prevent you from boarding because of this law. You might be able to talk your way onto the plane if you explain what you did to get the passport and that it nonetheless didn't arrive in time.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 3:22
  • thank you @phoog - I remembered that wrong then, thought there was no such consequence. How likely are such checks?
    – JakeDot
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 7:33
  • 1
    "How likely are such checks?" I've never seen one except on TV. There's a user at flyertalk who reports encountering them regularly on flights to some destination that is associated with money laundering and/or organized crime, so it seems to depend on one's itinerary.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 13:28


U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.

The US doesn't have consistent exit controls, but some users online report of random checks being carried out by Customs. Personally I've never seen any, or know anyone who did, so I'd assume they're fairly rare.

Assuming you find a workaround, or leave anyway, I would strongly suggest bringing the expired passport with you.

DO NOT HAVE YOUR SISTER CARRY IT FOR YOU. Generally speaking, you're not allowed to carry someone else's password, if they're not traveling with you. I know in the US to legally carry it she would need an authorization letter from you, but I'm not sure it would be enough to cross the border. It might be illegal.


can anyone please tell me or confirm that exiting the US without my US passport won't be an issue?

It's not an issue. US has no exit controls. You can enter a third country with any passport you like.

I know I need my US passport for reentering the US,

Since it's so hard to renew passports, there is a Covid exemption in place: https://www.state.gov/return-travel-on-recently-expired-u-s-passports/ You probably board a US bound plane with an expired passport, although I would check with the airline first.

  • "US has no exit controls": Customs and Border Protection does spot checks at boarding, and an officer performing such a check could prevent a US citizen who lacks a US passport from boarding the plane. The checks are apparently fairly frequent on some flights, according to a user at flyertalk who has posted several messages about this over the years, but I've never flown any of those routes and I've never seen one of these checks except on television.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 14:57

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