Hypothetical question:

If you are a dual national of two countries and have two passports. Suppose this is an Australian passport and a British passport. If you are in Australia, and wish to travel to the UK, if you exit the country on a British passport, and then try to enter Australia again, it is my understanding you can stay in Australia visa free for 90 days.

If you were to exit Australia again on the British passport, what would happen, if you have overstayed your 90 day limit, despite being an Australian citizen?

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    "it is my understanding you can stay in Australia visa free for 90 days": this understanding is incorrect, as the answers should make clear. But in any event you shouldn't be using your British passport to leave or enter Australia. Show your Australian passport to the Australian officers and the British passport to British officers. For more information, see I have two passports/nationalities. How do I use them when I travel?
    – phoog
    Jan 15, 2023 at 23:39
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    Note that you can typically enter and stay in a country of which you have citizenship without any documentation (after some administrative delay). You have the right to do so, and this right does not depend on the presence of any documents. Lack of documentation just makes it harder to verify your legal status, and thus your rights. (That said, the airlines which are effectively made deputy sheriffs will, equally typically, deny your boarding unless you have documentation, even though that is utterly wrong.) Jan 17, 2023 at 17:14

3 Answers 3


As an Australian citizen, you have an absolute right to live in Australia, and thus cannot "overstay" in your own country. This is regardless of what passport you used to enter: you don't stop being an Australian citizen just because you used a British passport.

Your hypothetical situation of entering and exiting on a different passport would be quite unlikely in practice, because all visitors to Australia need to get a visa (ETA), which will (should) not be granted if you are an Australian citizen.

But if you do manage to get one, stay longer than the allowed period and then try to leave, you will most likely stopped at the airport and held up until they can confirm that you are indeed an Australian citizen and thus have not overstayed. Once they do, that's it, you've committed no crime. And while you "should" use an Australian passport to enter and leave Australia, anecdotally you will be allowed to leave without one, although this will occasion considerable grumbling -- mostly because they're rightfully concerned that airlines will not let you return without one.

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    "you don't stop being you just because you used a British passport": more to the point, you don't stop being an Australian citizen just because you used a British passport.
    – phoog
    Jan 15, 2023 at 23:42
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    Well, doesn't it depend if it's during COVID times. Australia was one of those countries that prevented its own citizens from returning home. Jan 16, 2023 at 8:08
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    Australia didn't prevent citizen to return home, just made it very expensive and time-consuming to do so. It was possible with a mandatory 14 days quarantine in a pre-determined hotel, like a lot of other countries. I don't think any country could legally block their citizen from entering without revoking the passport, which is a much more severe affair. web archive of immigration rules for australia from the end of 2020: web.archive.org/web/20200929204235/https://…
    – bracco23
    Jan 16, 2023 at 10:17
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    @FrancescoCarzaniga do you have a source? I am an Italian Citizen and I was abroad the first week of March 2020 and I was able to come back. As I said, the rules often made it difficult and/or expensive, especially because of the lack of commercial flights and quarantine procedures, but I seriously doubt they can legally outright deny it completely. See also law.stackexchange.com/questions/52972/… for the legal aspect of it.
    – bracco23
    Jan 16, 2023 at 14:12
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    @bracco23 Covid crisis: Australians trying to return home from India face up to $66,000 fine or five years’ jail. And that's apart from having only a very limited number of quarantine places and long, long waiting lists.
    – Voo
    Jan 17, 2023 at 8:54

Please note: some countries require (i.e. it is the law) that you to enter/leave their country (of which you are a citizen) with the passport of that country.

Not doing so (when not required by law) may lead to you have wasted a lot of peaple's time by not using the passport of the country of which you are a citizen of when entering or leaving that country.

Also note: The country you are leaving does not care, in any way, shape or form what you told a non-official (commercial) organisation (such as an airline) which passport you will present to the destination immigration authority

  • they will only be interested in the passport that you present to them
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    Some countries do care. E.g.: Chinese citizens leaving China must prove to the Chinese immigration authorities at the port of exit that they have the right to be where they're going to. This is one way Chinese detect their citizens who accepted a foreign nationality (and thus lost their Chinese citizenship). Some other countries have some similar controls for various reasons (Philippines for example).
    – littleadv
    Jan 16, 2023 at 0:46
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    @littleadv Yes, when they ask you to show the second passport during their exit control, but not because of what you told the airline (that is passed on to the destination immigration control). Jan 16, 2023 at 8:59

In Ivory Coast, theoretically, yes, you can actually overstay as a dual-national, but this entails that you have no Ivorian documents, so I think that would be outside the scope of that question

Abidjan airport states :

Attention : un passager n'ayant aucun papier d'identité ivoirien (passeport ou carte d'identité), est considéré comme un passager étranger même s'il bénéficie d'une multi-citoyenneté. Il doit en conséquence être muni d'un visa.

Warning : a passenger who doesn't hold any Ivorian identity document (passport or ID card) is considered a foreign passenger, even if they have dual-citizenship. They must hold a visa

I don't know how it works in practice, but it is theoretically possible that if you overstay your visa and don't have an Ivorian ID card or a passport, you'll face repercussion for overstay or at least be denied exit until you get such documents

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    I wouldn't read too much into that page, which is solely meant to advise arriving passengers of entry requirements. International laws on the Right of Return notwithstanding, you're gonna have trouble at the check-in counter until you get your paperwork in order.
    – Sneftel
    Jan 16, 2023 at 9:35
  • Further to @Sneftel's comment, this doesn't imply that a dual citizen who enters with a foreign passport and visa is also required to observe the visa conditions after being admitted.
    – phoog
    Jan 16, 2023 at 10:07
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    This however just applies to the handling at the airport itself (and likely isn't even enforeceable there), it's just a sign so they can avoid the hassle of verifying identities and so on
    – Hobbamok
    Jan 16, 2023 at 15:52
  • That statement is probably only applicable at a particular point, e.g. at the immigration desk, e.g. "We will presume you are a foreign national until you show otherwise". They can't possibly be saying that lack of possession of documents suspends or annuls a citizenship which you actually do have. Jan 17, 2023 at 0:32

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