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I understand the generic answer show passport b when checking luggage passport a when leaving etc etc. This makes sense when traveling to a country where you benefit from having the local passport. However, I would like some specifics if anyone knows the answer.

I am traveling to Germany in May of this year. I am a USA/Canadian dual citizen with two passports. I also have a USA military ID (husband is disabled retired, not sure if that matters but throwing it out there.)

Should I bring both of my passports?

Would it benefit of hinder me in any way?

  • Now I'm curious why you would use one passport to check your bags and a different one to get yourself on the plane. I'd be concerned that somewhere a computer would spit out a report saying the bag-related ID doesn't match that of anyone who boarded the flight, so the bags would be (figuratively) dropped back on the tarmac (i.e. not go on your journey with you). – FreeMan Jan 31 '17 at 18:42
  • @FreeMan "leaving" means "at the exit check with the country's immigration service," and you would do this if you're traveling to a country where you'll enter using a passport other than the one you used to enter the country you're leaving. So if you enter Germany with the Canadian passport and fly to the US, you check in with the airline using the US passport (to show you're a US citizen) and you show the German border officer your Canadian passport (because that's where your entry stamp is). At the gate you should use the document you checked in with, as you thought. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 18:50
  • @phoog ah! That makes much more sense. Thank you. – FreeMan Jan 31 '17 at 18:53
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    Some time ago, a military ID would allow you to shop in the PX of larger US bases. Not sure if that is still current, so it is a comment and not an answer. – o.m. Jan 31 '17 at 19:10
  • @o.m. in the 90s you could even take Germans into the PX in Ramstein and Kaiserslautern with a military ID. I was taken there several times as a kid by a friends' mom and I loved the pizza. – simbabque Feb 1 '17 at 7:30
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You should decide whether you want to enter Germany using your Canadian or US passport. Based on what you've told us, there is no reason to prefer one over the other, since US and Canadian citizens have the same privileges of visa-free entry into the Schengen area.

Absent any other reason to prefer one passport over the other, you should just pick the one that makes your life easiest. For example, if you can use one passport for the entire journey, do that, so you don't have to worry about switching passports while you're traveling.

This will largely depend on where you're traveling from to reach Germany, and where you're traveling to after you leave. If your trip is a round trip from the US, use your US passport. If it's a round trip from Canada, use your Canadian passport. If it's a round trip from any other country, use the passport that you used to enter that country.

If you are planning to use only one passport, should you take the other one? This is a matter of debate. It's useful to have a spare, as noted in pnuts's comment, but more to the point, you may find yourself in a position where you need the other passport and don't have it.

For example, if you're traveling with your Canadian passport when an emergency arises requiring you to travel unexpectedly to the United States, you would be in a difficult position if your US passport were still in Canada. On the other hand, if you don't have your second passport with you, you're perhaps less likely to lose it.

I prefer flexibility, so I generally bring both of my passports with me whenever I travel internationally, but others disagree.

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    Note: I tend to travel with multiple pieces of ID too, just in case, however I specifically avoid putting all my eggs in the same basket. Or in this case, all my IDs in the same piece of luggage. Primary ID in my wallet, secondary ID in my hand luggage, hopefully I won't lose both. – Matthieu M. Feb 1 '17 at 11:54
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    @MatthieuM.: This is valuable advice especially if your government issues multiple types of valid ID. I lost my passport during travels abroad but still had my government ID card back at the hotel which made the procedure at the consulate much easier, faster and cheaper since I didn't have to get new temporary ID. Instead I received a signed statement from the consul that my government would recognize the other ID upon reentry, so the border agents would let me board the plane home (though they were still confused and had to ask up their chain of command). – David Foerster Feb 1 '17 at 12:19
  • Thanks, it was kind of what I was thinking but I was not 100% sure so figured I would ask people with more experience in the matter. I appreciate everyone's answers, thanks all. – Kathy Perry Feb 1 '17 at 20:05
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In Australia it is imperative to use the same passport for entering and leaving the country, but they don't care if you show them your Australian passport or your overseas passport. If you don't do it like that, they will get confused. I once was in transit from Australia to South Africa, and in Bangkok they couldn't give me my boarding pass for the connecting flight, because the Australian computer system told them I had never left Australia...

Apart from that, just take them both as the commenter said. It's useful to have a spare if you loose one. Just don't loose both!

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    What does Australia have to do with anything in this question? – Henning Makholm Jan 31 '17 at 18:13
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    @HenningMakholm presumably he is interested in engaging with the site and wants to contribute something. We should celebrate noobs, but I agree that your enquiry is in order. – Gayot Fow Jan 31 '17 at 19:02
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    Folks, it's a clear anecdote about traveling with multiple passports, and demonstrates a cautionary tale about problems that might arise from switching passports mid-travel. It seems very relevant. – SnakeDoc Jan 31 '17 at 19:34
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    @GayotFow, thanks for your encouragement. As a matter of fact, I would have added my two cents as a comment, but since I do not have enough reputation yet, I just posted it as an answer. I'm not too worried about downvotes yet :) I can see the problem though that my answer does not apply to the same country. Honestly I have no idea if it's the same with other countries than Australia, but I expect there to be similar issues when using multiple passports to engage with one and the same government. – Michael Paul Jan 31 '17 at 19:46
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    Not just in Australia. And you don't say whether you are departing from the US or Canada. Also, even if you are a US citizen, you may not be allowed to enter the US from Europe unless you have your US passport with you, even as a dual Canadian. This is from unpleasant and expensive personal experience. – mickeyf Jan 31 '17 at 21:59

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