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Does one country know whether or not a person has another passport from another country?

If I have a US passport and a passport from another country and my last name is different in the two passports (father's surname, mother's maiden name), does this still mean that a person has two passports?

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    Do you have any evidence that a country really does know you have another passport? What makes you think it is true? – gmauch Feb 2 '15 at 21:22
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    @gmauch. I'm asking whether a country knows if I have another passport and if they do, how they know this. I didn't assume or state anything. – Dual Feb 2 '15 at 21:33
  • I believe they'd only know if you tell them. – DA. Feb 3 '15 at 0:04
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The U.S. government does not in general know whether you have another passport, nor does the U.S. government care that you have another passport.

Occasionally they could know, for example, if Customs searches your bags during entry and finds the other passports. But that is a rare case.

  • I wouldn't go so far as to say they don't care. If you're a naturalized US citizen, you're supposed to have given up your other citizenship when that happened. In practice, nobody really checks, but unless you're from a rather outlier country it'd be easy enough for the US to find out, if they wanted to. Naturally it'd be harder for them to find out if your other passport is in a different name, someone would have to use their head and that's not usually a feature of routine checks. But on the whole I'd be careful to keep the info to myself if I were you, you don't want to be a test case – George M Jan 8 at 19:40
  • @GeorgeM: "If you're a naturalized US citizen, you're supposed to have given up your other citizenship when that happened." Nope. The US has never required or requested an applicant for naturalization take any action with respect to their existing nationalities as part of naturalization. There is nothing to "be careful" about. – user102008 Jan 8 at 21:43
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It depends in part on your place of birth. If you were born outside the USA, then your parents would have filed a registration of foreign birth, so the USA would then know you could have dual citizenship. You also have to supply proof of citizenship, along with your parents birth countries when you applied for your US passport. So the government could know you might have a 2nd passport and/or dual citizenship.

Would they care? For the most part no, unless your birth country warrants watching or if your family name warranted watching.

Massive amounts of data are mined by governments all over the world. But most just sits in databases only to be pulled up when enough values match an issue at hand.

Is there a reason you are concerned about the 2nd passport being revealed?

  • My interest in the subject stems from how this relates to obtaining security clearances. In the recent past I was offered a job which would eventually need a security clearance. However, due to holding a second passport there was a complication. Now, this was based on conversation with the employer and not during the process of obtaining the clearance. What kind of checks are made in such process to determine an applicant has a second passport if the applicant makes no mention of a second passport? – Dual Feb 3 '15 at 4:42
  • I imagine the level to which things are checked would depend on the needed security clearance and the entity requiring that clearance. Likewise their access to less than public details. It would be difficult for anyone here to answer the specifics. But as is always good advice, honesty is best in these matters. – user13044 Feb 3 '15 at 5:23
  • "so the USA would then know you could have dual citizenship" Not really. There is no place where you tell them what other nationalities you have. Many people born abroad have no other nationality. Some do, but then the same is true for people born in the U.S. Also, having another nationality and having another passport are different things. – user102008 Feb 4 '15 at 0:05
  • "You also have to supply proof of citizenship, along with your parents birth countries when you applied for your US passport. So the government could know you might have a 2nd passport and/or dual citizenship." I don't understand how you can infer anything about other nationalities or other passports from applying for a U.S. passport. – user102008 Feb 4 '15 at 0:06
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    @Dual: They may ask you what other nationalities you have when applying for a security clearance. And they will know based on that. (Of course, you can lie, but that would be perjury.) I would think whether you have other nationalities is more pertinent than whether you have other passports per se, because even if you don't have a foreign passport, if you have that country's nationality, you can get a passport at any time. – user102008 Feb 4 '15 at 0:08
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A lot would depend on whether the countries share data, whether you actually use both passports, and how you use them.

By now, governments have noticed that one person can have alternative names, so merely matching on name, qualified by date and place of birth, is not good enough. There is a general and increasing trend to depend on biometrics, typically some combination of fingerprints and photographs that allow analysis of the structure of the person's face.

For example, if you enter the US on a non-US passport, DHS collects fingerprints and a photo, with a few exceptions such as diplomats and children.

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Yes, they will find out. And in addition, you cannot have a security clearance and passports from different countries, this violates ITAR which are laws which make it illegal to speak about the USA to other countries (and vice versa) regarding sensitive or classified information. So if you're looking to get a security clearance, do not have more than one passport, that makes you a citizen of more than one country which in itself is not illegal in most cases, if we have an agreement with that country, but it does make it impossible to gain a security clearance.

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    No, having a passport from a country does not make you a citizen of that country. You need to be a citizen of a country before you can get a passport from that country. (And it's being a citizen of a different country, not the bureaucratic fact of having a passport issued, that would raise security eyebrows in some cases). – Henning Makholm Mar 1 '15 at 1:22
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    @HenningMakholm Having a passport raises some security eyebrows by itself, because it means you're exercising the privileges of dual citizenship (as opposed to, for instance, having dual citizenship from birth but never having used anything but your US citizenship, which won't really raise any questions). I believe the US clearance process includes surrendering any foreign passports you may happen to hold. – cpast Mar 1 '15 at 6:38

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