Help! My 21 year old daughter is leaving the US tomorrow for London and her US passport is out of date. As her expired passport was issued as a minor she has to apply as a first time applicant for a us passport and with the bad weather and weekend she can't do that today. Some one suggested that she leave on her British passport and apply for US passport from US Embassy in London before her return. Problem on line check in will not accept details of expired US passport or UK passport without visa no.

  • Welcome to travel.SE. Can you clarify what your question is?
    – Karlson
    Feb 14, 2014 at 22:09
  • "Problem on line check in will not accept details of expired US passport or UK passport without VISA no" I don't quite understand this, can you clarify please ? What if she leaves with her UK passport ?
    – blackbird
    Feb 14, 2014 at 22:29

2 Answers 2


Legally all US Citizens must depart the US using a valid (non-expired) US Passport. This includes people with dual citizenship.

Thus your daughter, a US Citizen, can not legally travel to the UK using only her UK passport - she must do so using her US passport.

As the US does not have any (physical) outbound immigration it is possible that she will be able to depart using only her UK passport - but as I said this is not legally allowed.

I don't know why she would not be able to check-in online. On many airlines, including United, it is not uncommon for foreigners (as she is if she's using a UK passport) not to be able to complete the on-line check-in process for an international flight until the airline has physically seen your passport. When that happens with United you will be able to complete check-in, but instead of receiving a boarding pass you will recieve a document that says "This is not a boarding pass" and has instructions to see an agent at the airport - but that doesn't sound like what you're hitting here. A UK citizen would obviously not need a visa to travel to London, but perhaps their system is smart enough to realize that she is a US citizen and thus has to use a (non-expired) US passport.

So really she has 2 options - either go to the airport tomorrow and attempt to travel using only her UK passport (which is illegal, but may work), or delay the trip and obtain a new US passport.


Like Doc said, legally, all U.S. citizens must enter and leave the U.S. with a valid U.S. passport. However, the U.S. has no exit checks, so one does not have to actually do anything to satisfy "leaving the U.S. with a U.S. passport". Theoretically, the CBP could perform random checks on outbound passengers, but I have never seen that happen. I have also never heard of any consequences for someone violating the rule when leaving.

An airline can only, and should only, care about how you enter the destination country. They care about how you enter the destination country because they are liable to transport you back if you do not have permission to enter. But there is no point for the airline to check whether you can leave the originating country, even in countries that have exit checks, because if you can't leave, then you don't fly, and it doesn't hurt (might even benefit) the airline.

Even people who have no status (or had never had status) in the U.S. are free to leave at any time, without encountering any problems. So I doubt your daughter will have any problems leaving the U.S.

Theoretically, the embassy in London could get pissed at her for leaving the U.S. when her U.S. passport is expired, but it's not likely to come up, because they would first have to figure out when she left the U.S., etc., which is only found on her other passport. Plus, for all they know, she could have never realized that her passport was expired, since it is never checked on exit; or she could have never realized such a rule existed in the U.S. (I'll bet most U.S. dual nationals don't know).

  • The US DOES have exit checks - however they are fully automated using APIS (Advance Passenger Information System) and data provided by the airline. In this case, those systems will detect a departure by a UK citizen who did not previously enter the US, and whilst it is not likely they will attempt to detain her as a result, this could cause problems in the future.
    – Doc
    Feb 15, 2014 at 18:44
  • @Doc: But to provide "correct" information to APIS for dual nationals who must use a different passport to enter the destination country, that means that airline has to be provided with the information of multiple passports. I doubt most airline staff will ask for multiple passports, and if you give them multiple passports, they might get confused.
    – user102008
    Feb 15, 2014 at 21:11
  • @Doc I've been exiting the US using my non-US passport for the last few years, with no consequence. The US system is designed to match entrances with exits; if there's an exit that doesn't match with an entrance, nothing happens (at least, I've seen some news articles about congressional testimony to that effect).
    – phoog
    Apr 12, 2016 at 19:25

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