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let’s say I am asking for a friend. My friend wants to enter country X with his Italian passport. He has already entered that country once previously, around 10 years ago, however with a different citizenship. He has since obtained an Italian one.

Would passport control instantly see the link between those two passports and know it’s the same person in spite of the different citizenship?

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    "this person has been here before" is not actually a super important piece of information to most countries on arrival. Perhaps for getting a visa, but you don't mention visas. Is there a reason you would prefer this visit be considered a first-ever? Perhaps a problem on a previous visit? Jul 29, 2023 at 17:19
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    Any answer would depend on which country 'X' is, since not all countries retain that information. The Schengen countries, presently, do not. Others do. Jul 29, 2023 at 17:24
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    The question suggests that there's more to the story than so far disclosed. Might Country X be interested in the person who previously entered? Perhaps the friend is or was involved in a domestic County X police matter. If so (or similar), Country X's passport control might check other databases, not just one for persons who previously entered Country X. Jul 29, 2023 at 19:29
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    As others have said, this is highly variable. Some will know immediately because all foreigners have their biometrics taken (fingerprints, pictures…). Others don’t have any records except stamps in passports. Many are somewhere in between, use bio data (name, date of birth…). Also some have started to record things at various dates, and others may have limits on how long they keep records (which may be different for regular visitors and those who had issues). So without details of the country and the issue you are trying to avoid, hard to give any meaningful answer…
    – jcaron
    Jul 29, 2023 at 21:12
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    One thing to consider, if it is relevant, is that if the person is wanted by the police for a criminal matter then they will be casting a wider net. People often report being sent to secondary inspection because police are looking for someone who has a similar name, let alone the same name and the same date and place of birth. If they're interested in the traveler because of a previous immigration violation then they are likely to make a match, but perhaps less likely than for a criminal violation.
    – phoog
    Jul 29, 2023 at 22:32

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This is the reason why passports tend to include family name (and optionally name at birth), given name, date of birth, and place of birth. The assumption is that the combination of all four is unique and permanent, unlike citizenship which may change.

There are plenty of reports about people whose information produces a match or near-match to someone on a watchlist, and who needed to go through extra checks at immigration.

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