My 10 year old son and I are due to fly to Ireland in 10 days time. He is a dual US/Irish citizen. I just realized his US passport is due to expire in 2 weeks time. Can he leave the US on just his Irish passport? We are spending an extended period in Ireland so we can have his US passport renewed before his return to the US. I'm just concerned with leaving the country on a non-US passport. Will I encounter any problems?

  • His passport will be valid when he leaves, won't it? There's no problem in that case.
    – phoog
    Jun 12 at 4:36
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Expired US Passport / Dual Citizenship Traveling
    – phoog
    Jun 12 at 4:37
  • It will be valid but I won't have it on my person as I'll have to submit his existing passport as part of the application for the new passport which I'll do this week before I fly out.
    – kmulkere
    Jun 12 at 4:50
  • 1
    Wouldn’t it be better to renew it in Ireland if you’re going yo be there for an extended period of time?
    – jcaron
    Jun 12 at 9:15

Thanks to 8 USC 1185(b) it is

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.

(There are exceptions, but they mostly cover things like entry by land, or by sea from nearby islands -- see 8 CFR 235.1(b) if you want to know the details).

The US has no exit controls, one often hears, but it is more precise to say that the US has no systematic exit controls. They do perform spot checks, though these are very rare. Still, there is a very small chance that you could encounter one. If you do, the immigration officer will probably prevent your son from boarding the plane.

Accordingly, the safer option would be to take your son to Ireland with his valid US passport and renew it in Ireland, or, if you intend to return to the US before the end of the year, use the expired passport to return (related: Can a US citizen fly to the US with an expired US passport?).

Another option is to try to apply for an expedited passport using the in-person service for those with travel within 72 hours, but as explained above it should not be necessary. Furthermore, the state department says that appointment availability is "extremely limited," so it might not even be possible.

  • The odds of encountering an exit check that would go as far as block you from leaving the country are… astronomical. I agree it’s better to just go ahead and extend it but mostly because the US consulate in Ireland might be restricted if another Covid wave shows up or OP might end up realizing they’re missing some crucial document to extend it.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 12 at 16:07
  • @JonathanReez I think you mean infinitesimal. The odds of being blocked from leaving the country if encountering an exit check are quite high. Apparently the exit checks are quite common on certain routes, even if they are rare overall. Although the chance of being blocked is low on most routes, the cost of being blocked is very high, so it definitely makes sense to keep the passport. If US passport services in Ireland remain closed until the end of the year, they will probably extend the validity of expired passports for return to the US beyond December 31st.
    – phoog
    Jun 12 at 21:39
  • An expedited passport application before departure might make sense if kmulkere lives near a passport office, but it ought not to be necessary. Furthermore, the state department says that appointments are "extremely limited."
    – phoog
    Jun 12 at 21:40
  • Thank you. So if I chose to just travel on his EU passport to Ireland, what should I enter in for the passenger details for the airline? When I enter his Irish passport details, it states I need to apply for an ESTA (as it's a return flight to the US) or should I enter his US passport details, even though I might not have that passport on my person. The other alternative to renew in Ireland is difficult as there are no embassy appointments available in Dublin and his Dad will not be traveling with us which makes it harder to apply for a child passport as both parents need to be present.
    – kmulkere
    Jun 12 at 22:56
  • @kmulkere what airline is this? I have never been asked for ESTA when departing the US.
    – phoog
    Jun 12 at 23:23

EDIT: I was mistaken. U.S. law requires you to use a U.S. passport to leave or enter the US even if you have a dual citizenship.

That being said, your US passport is stil valid at the time of your exit, and you already have plans to renew it in Ireland before reentry, so there shouldn't be any issues.

There is no difference between leaving the US using a US passport or an Irish one. There are no controls when you exit the country. Considering you're traveling toward the EU, using a European passport is probably convenient anyway in the unlikely scenario any issue arises.

The US, like many other countries, only has controls on entrance. That's where the difference comes into play, making the process much faster for US citizens over anyone using a foreign passport. But if you'll have his US passport renewed before then, you shouldn't have any issue on reentry.

  • But there are, sometimes, checks of departing passengers by CBP officers. The risk of being blocked is real: small chance, to be sure, but big consequences if the traveler is intercepted. Jun 22 at 1:26

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