We have the report of a Ghanaian-American dual citizen, recently naturalized, presenting their new USA passport at the UK border answering "yes" to the question "have you ever had any problems with immigration anywhere" and getting in some trouble (although no refusal).

We have the CBP answering in essence, the two passports of a dual citizen are completely independent.

Is it the person or is it the nationality? Is the question "have you ever had any problems with immigration anywhere" to be understood on its face value, where "you" is the biological person or is it "you as a citizen of the country your passport you are presenting to us" and they do not give this tirade every time because for the overwhelming majority of passengers the two are the same? Is your new passport a clean slate? Or do you carry the problems resulting from the heightened scrutiny of your other citizenship forever? Is it possible for a border guard to swipe my Canadian passport and be aware of the history of my Hungarian passport? How entwined are my two inner citizens :) ?

Let's restrict the question to those who have at least one citizenship in the Five Eyes countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) and one of the Five Eyes borders.

  • 1
    If the names are matching it's probably easy to sync up.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 8:29
  • 2
    Would you mind narrowing down your question to one country, e.g. UK border controls? Otherwise I am afraid it is much too broad IMHO. Also I would always err on the side of caution here and disclose both passports/immigration histories, as you can well be interpreted as the biological person you are, in fact I would be surprised of a different reading.
    – mts
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:10
  • What @mts said. As it stands now, it's a near duplicate of travel.stackexchange.com/questions/67808/… or any similar question. You seem to be after a Canadian/Hungarian case and that's awkward for getting a serviceable answer in the near term.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 11:43
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    Courts in the USA (including immigration courts) have held that when asked a question with ever, it unambiguously means its use in ordinary life and covers the totality of your life. No wiggle room whatsoever. There are similar questions on multiple USA immigration forms. In reality a human being who is under evaluation by immigration is more than just his passport, and rightly so. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 11:47
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    I think you're reading something into the CBP response in the other question that isn't there. I would read it simply as "in a situation where you can enter on either passport, we don't care which one you choose to use". I think that's a much weaker statement than your summary of it as "the two passports of a dual citizen are completely independent".
    – djr
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


"You" always applies to you, the natural person. "You" does not change, regardless of how many citizenship or passports you hold - you are still only a single person.

Thus questions like have "you" ever had issues with immigration relate to you over your entire life - not just on the passport you are choosing to use at that time.

As to whether countries can match up passports, the answer will depend on the country. Your new passport will generally have the same name, date of birth and place of birth as your previous passport. Based on what I've been told by a reliable source for at least one major country, presuming you have entered the country previously, this correlation will trigger a soft match in at least some immigration systems. The immigration officer will then see the photo of the previous passport photo and the current one, and will be able to link them if he determines they are the same person.

If you have not entered the country previously then this becomes a question about data sharing between countries, which is information that is generally not going to be public - so anyone that actually knows the answer will not be able to disclose it...


From personal experience, yes.

I'm an EU citizen who acquired Australian citizenship. I visited the US several times on my previous EU passport, then got a new ESTA (which IIRC did not ask about other nationalities, only other names) for the Australian passport and visited again.

First visit on the new passport, I was asked:

  • "Have you visited the US on a different passport?"

  • "Yes, last November."

  • "Welcome back." stamp stamp

Second visit:

  • "You're a dual citizen."

  • "Yes sir."

  • "Are you also an Iraqi or Syrian citizen?"

  • "No sir."

  • stamp stamp "Next!"

Note that this doesn't necessarily entail that the US and Australia share information, as the US could figure it out simply my matching my almost certainly globally unique name. (To be clear, I know they do share it, it's just not required here.)

  • 3
    Note that (possibly hypothetical) passport matching algorithms actually have it much easier than they would if they had only names to match. They also have the date and usually place of birth. There may be hundreds of people with any particular name in the world, but there will be far fewer who were born on the same day in the same place.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 5:33

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