I am a German citizen and my current passport expires in March. I applied for a new one two weeks ago and also got the new passport number. I expect to be able to collect it from the town hall at the end of next week.

Question: I wanted to fly to America for two weeks at the beginning of next week (i.e. before the new passport can be collected). Can I do this with my current passport? Or should I book the flight ticket with the passport number of the new passport without having the new passport?

My concern is that, even though my current passport is not expired yet, the immigration check may somehow see that I have requested a new passport (which may even be ready to be collected at the day of departure) which renders my current passport invalid?

(My ESTA shows the passport number of my current passport.)

  • I can't speak for Germany, but when I renewed my NZ passport I was told the previous one was considered cancelled the instant I applied.
    – Midavalo
    Jan 19 at 21:16
  • I can't speak for Germany, but in France, your old passport gets punched in and you only get it back if you have a valid visa in it. Else it's destroyed Jan 19 at 22:22
  • @Midavalo I would definitely understand that in the case of an application for a new passport after the current one was lost or stolen, but for a regular renewal that seems a bit harsh…
    – jcaron
    Jan 19 at 22:38
  • @jcaron "If your passport is still valid when you apply, you should consider it cancelled once you have sent your application to our office. Do not attempt to travel on that passport." - this line copied from an email conversation I had with the NZ Passport Office sums up their response.
    – Midavalo
    Jan 19 at 22:46
  • @jcaron A possible distinction for NZ passports vs some other countries is that NZ passports are applied for 100% online. I applied for mine and had it in hand in Mexico (sent from NZ) within 8 days (normal application, not rushed/emergency etc), so it was never an issue
    – Midavalo
    Jan 19 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


In France, when you apply for a new passport, the current one remains valid until you pick up the new one. Whereby it will be canceled ("ANNULÉ" stamp on some pages, and a corner of the cover cut off), and handed back to you only if there's a valid visa in it. You don't get the new passport's number ahead of time. But as long as you haven't picked up the new one, your old passport can be used. You actually have something like 3 months to pick up the new one. And in between you can use the old one.

I've done that a lot, including recently. I used to renew my passports every 18 months, before Covid, because they would get full quickly. Every time I renewed, Consulate staff would confirm I could use the "old" one until the new one arrived. So check with German authorities and ask.

But the real concern is not that: your passport is not valid long enough to visit the US. I believe it needs 6 months beyond your proposed stay. You'll need to wait for the new one, and apply for a new ESTA.

  • 1
    In Germany, in October 2022, they cut out the machine readable zone of the main identity page and returned the old passport together with the new passport. They did not check for any visas. I was not given the new passport number beforehand. Jan 20 at 2:38
  • So almost like France – except France is a bit pissy about handing back the old passport... They're taking the "Passport belongs to the government" thing too seriously...
    – dda
    Jan 20 at 2:39
  • 1
    In Germany they are 'pissy' about the ID card. They will cut out the photo if you want it, but keep the rest. Jan 20 at 2:43
  • 1
    The 6 months rule does not apply to citizens of country (which includes Germany) with an aggreement with the US that allows them to return with an expired passport up to 6 months. See: 9 FAM 403.9-3(B)(2) - Countries That Extend Passport Validity for an Additional Six Months After Expiration Jan 20 at 5:25
  • @MarkJohnson I honestly can't remember their attitude re: ID card in France, as I haven't had one in ages. I wouldn't be surprised if they took it away too.
    – dda
    Jan 20 at 6:54

The "standard" procedure for passport renewal ensures that you only have one valid passport at a time and that the old one gets invalidated at the time, the new one becomes valid.

This requires a "hand-off" procedure. Either you need to send your old one with the renewal application (which leaves you unable to travel during the renewal) or you need to bring the old passport when picking up the new one.

The old one is physically invalidated. The US punches holes into it. At my last German renewal, they cut off a corner of the photo page and stamped "invalid" on the first page. That makes the old one invalid as a travel document by itself, but all contents like Visa, admission stamps, etc. are all still valid. That's why you get it back.

Can I do this with my current passport?

Yes. As long as it has not been invalidated and it isn't expired, that's the passport you should use.

Or should I book the flight ticket with the passport number of the new passport without having the new passport?

No. As long as your old passport is valid, I would assume that your new one has not been "activated" yet. Also: if you don't have it you can't present it at check-in and/or immigration.

(My ESTA shows the passport number of my current passport.)

Another reason to bring the old one.

I applied for a new one two weeks ago and also got the new passport number.

You are a lucky dog. In the US this takes multiple months and you cannot travel during the renewal process. It's a bit unusual that they gave you the new number before you have the physical passport in hand. I've personally never experienced that with my German passport.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .