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I have dual nationality, Canada-Poland (EU). Born and raised in Canada, but parents are Polish. Normally reside in Canada.

Background: back in November 2021, I flew to the UK via Toronto > London > Toronto for three days for a wedding, and used my Canadian passport.

So now in March 2022, I have been traveling around Europe for the last few weeks, having entered Europe on my Polish (EU) passport.

I was in Spain last week, and wanted to cross the border into Gibraltar (UK sovereign territory).

Because I was entering Gibraltar, i.e., UK sovereign territory, I thought it would be wise to use my Canadian passport again — since I had used it for the UK a few months ago.

I went to Gibraltar border control and handed the guy my Canadian passport. He scanned it, flipped through it…and stamped it. Which I thought was weird, since the UK never stamps, but I thought, “Ok, maybe it’s just a Gibraltar thing.”

Shortly after, I checked the passport and saw it was an exit stamp from Spain!

So now, I have an EU exit stamp on my Canadian passport, and literally nothing else. No entry stamp (obviously, since I entered Europe on my EU passport). Passport is quite new and blank except for this EU exit stamp, since I’ve only used it for Canada, America, and the UK.

I crossed back in Spain from Gibraltar on my Polish passport, no issue—they didn’t scan it or stamp it or check or anything, just waved me through.

However, I’m concerned that there is now a “record” of me leaving Spain as a Canadian, but no record of my entry as a Canadian. Also, that I am permanently overstaying in Gibraltar, since I entered on a Canadian passport, but never technically “left”.

Don’t know why the officer didn’t remark about lack of proof of entry to Spain on that Canadian passport, but who knows.

Anyway, I’m quite worried now about how things will play out.

Thoughts? Or am I overreacting?

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  • Thanks for the swift and thorough reply. Regarding applying for visas though … I don’t want other countries to know I am a dual citizen, but I guess that is self-evident now from the single exit stamp 😕 Mar 9 at 16:45
  • Re: dual citizenship. A stray stamp might raise questions if someone studies your passport very carefully but oversights are not rare. Case in point: A border guard applying a Schengen exit stamp is always supposed to look for the corresponding entry stamp. Yet, what happened to you is that they didn't find it but stamped anyway.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 9 at 16:49
  • Yeah I’m worried about the Gibraltar side of things, and the UK, and if I ever enter the UK on my Canadian passport again (which I usually do). Mar 9 at 16:49
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    A brief comment, you should read up on your rights as an EU citizen in Poland and elsewhere in the EU. They are wide-ranging, from living and working to running for town council ...
    – o.m.
    Mar 9 at 18:14
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    On a side note, a sole exit stamp can also easily happen just by going to a country where you get stamps when talking to an officer and no stamps when you use the automated gate. Just enter through the automated gate and exit through a booth with an officer.
    – AndreKR
    Mar 11 at 5:15

2 Answers 2

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None of this matters. You're a Polish citizen, you have a right to be in Spain more-or-less indefinitely (with some small caveats but nothing that matters in this scenario). Using your Canadian passport doesn't change that basic fact and, in the highly unlikely event that someone anywhere in the EU ever questions you about that stamp or any incomplete travel record, establishing your Polish citizenship will be enough to clear up the issue.

I crossed back in Spain from Gibraltar on my Polish passport, no issue—they didn’t scan it or stamp it or check or anything, just waved me through.

That's pretty typical. Spanish border guards are aware of the rules I just mentioned. They are forbidden from stamping your Polish passport and have absolutely no reason to check anything else. They could scan it if they suspect it's fake or stolen or want to check if there is an alert for your arrest but other than that they would not deny you entry. In particular, previous stays or the purpose of your travel are completely irrelevant.

I am not so sure about the Gibraltar side of things. The UK relies on passenger manifests and data from transportation companies but with Gibraltar being accessible by road and still figuring out its relationship with Spain after Brexit, I am not up to date on exactly how they handle immigration.

Importantly, overstaying is a material fact. If you are out of the territory, you cannot be overstaying. What a stray stamp could potentially do is create some confusion or reverse the burden of proof but it doesn't mean you're overstaying anywhere. Again, I don't know about Gibraltar but EU law is explicit about that.

Generally speaking, oversights are not uncommon and there are a lot of inconsistencies in stamping. For the UK specifically, you can always mention your Polish/EU citizenship and show your other passport while still using the Canadian passport.

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    To avoid questions about overstaying in Gibraltar, keep receipts for travel to and from (air fare, ferry tickets, whatever). Also, keep receipts for purchases made outside Gibraltar for the week after you left. Having proof of hotel stays, meals, etc purchased in Spain, the UK, anywhere but there should relieve concerns should anyone decide to question it. As noted in the answers so far, you shouldn't have any problems, but this is an extra level of insurance.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 10 at 12:43
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    Just to support this answer, I have had a similar thing happen to me (UK/US national, back when the UK was in the EU). For some reason I showed a border guard in the EU my US passport. He flipped it open to a random page, smacked the stamp down without even looking at me, and waved me on. I don't even remember what country it was, or even that it had happened until I read this question. So +1 to "don't sweat it" :)
    – Sompom
    Mar 10 at 15:52
  • Oh wow, interesting that the same happened to you! How long ago was that? Mar 10 at 21:16
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You are overreacting, as you guessed.
First of all, if there is any question at any time, you can show both passports and explain that you expected to get an entry stamp into the UK/Gibraltar. Neither Canada nor Poland has any problem with dual nationality.

But even more important, that stamp in your passport is just that, a stamp, it does not have a corresponding digital registration as those are not yet made in the Schengen area. This makes it very unlikely you will ever be asked about that exit stamp.

Other countries may be interested if you apply for a visa, but that should not be a problem either, as you can proof you entered the Schengen area on your Schengen area passport.

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  • Thanks for your help and patience! Hypothetical question: if someone who is not-EU (example, Canadian) flew Canada > Switzerland, and then drove through France to Spain, and then crossed Gibraltar on foot, they would also just get an exit stamp only, correct? Since Switzerland does not stamp and land borders don’t stamp either. So my exit stamp might not be so weird; could have come through Switzerland. Mar 9 at 17:53
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    @PierogiGirl Switzerland is part of the Schengen area, you should get a stamp upon landing in Switzerland. What makes you think they don't?
    – Relaxed
    Mar 10 at 0:08
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    So you have always been lying on visa applications? Not a smart move. If found out lying you can get a ban, not just for that country but for many more. If asked for something tell the truth.
    – Willeke
    Mar 10 at 11:16
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    I would suggest a whole new question, @PierogiGirl, about your concerns about what effect having dual Polish/Canadian citizenship on planned or hypothetical future travel plans. This is obviously something that concerns you as well, and it deserves a whole new topic here. Folks here won't be able to give you good, thorough answers down here in the comments, plus it's just not how Travel is designed to work.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 10 at 12:46
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    @PierogiGirl You can post it here I think but as a new question, spelling out exactly what your concern is (possibly which countries you want to visit, etc.)
    – Relaxed
    Mar 10 at 14:33

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