I haven't been able to find a straight answer on this anywhere. I have dual US/German citizenship. I know that I have to enter and exit the US on the US passport and the EU on the German one. But where exactly do I "exit" the United States? There is no passport control for departures in the United States. And based on what I've read, airlines send your check-in information to your destination. So when flying to Italy, I'd have to scan my German passport at airline check-in because I'd be using that one to enter Europe. Is that correct? How do other dual US/EU citizens deal with this? I want to be sure I do it the right way on an upcoming trip. It's been years since I've flown internationally, so there was always a person I could show both to at check-in, but I've heard from friends that now it's all just kiosks and that the people at the counters don't check you in - they just direct you back to the kiosks.

Edit: The thing that's confusing me about previous threads on the topic is that many, including the one someone said my question is a duplicate of, say to show both at check-in in the United States. Kiosks only allow you to show one, so which one?

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    I always check in for EU-bound flights with my EU passport. It's never been a problem. If anyone ever asks about my US immigration status ("where's your stamp" or the like), I'll just say I'm a US citizen. If they insist that I check in with my US passport, I will. So far nothing like that has happened, but if the US ever implements its planned biometric entry-exit system, or the Schengen area its planned ESTA-like system (Etias), this may change.
    – phoog
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 20:34
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    In fact, you would not be likely to have problems if they send your US details to Europe and you enter with the German passport. You're German, so you have the rights of a German, period. Airlines also send departing passport information to the US authorities, but as far as I know they can't handle multiple passports in a single check-in record.
    – phoog
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 20:39
  • In response to your edit: I would show my NL passport at the kiosk. It would not necessarily ask for more information because NL visitors to the US don't usually have a machine readable visa. If it insisted that I scan my visa or green card, which I of course do not have, I might try scanning my passport. I expect that it would direct me to the check-in counter for human intervention. If you prefer the simpler approach, you can just check in with the US passport. The EU immigration officers really will not care.
    – phoog
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


Your assumptions about the EU are wrong. The US definitely requires airlines to give them Advance Passenger Information and technically makes it mandatory for citizens to use their US passport but most other countries don't and all this is far less systematic than you seem to imagine.

Specifically, there are many advantages but certainly no obligation to disclose your EU citizenship when entering the EU. Individual countries might theoretically have a requirement like that for their own citizens but you're not an Italian citizen so it wouldn't concern you. And if you choose to show your US passport at a kiosk, there is nothing preventing you from using your German passport at the destination anyway.

The problem with doing something like that in the other direction (flying to the US) is that almost everybody requires prior authorisation (a visa or ESTA). So if you would use your German passport to fly to the US, it would be flagged because you have no ESTA (and could not get one without lying as US citizens are not supposed to and the form asks you to disclose any other citizenship IIRC). But that's not an issue in this case, as US citizens do not require a visa or authorisation to enter the Schengen area.


You should leave the US on your US passport and enter the EU on your German passport. Vice versa on return..

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    I think the OP's question is how effectively to "leave the US on your US passport" since the US doesn't have exit immigration. The simple answer is that there's nothing to do: simply having the US passport is enough to satisfy the requirement that a citizen leave the US on their US passport. It doesn't need to be a US passport that is scanned into the airline's computer. Commented May 19, 2017 at 21:14
  • Sure. In reality, since the user is outbound and will re-enter the USA, he will have his passport with him. He should check in on both sides with his US Passport but enter through immigration in the EU as a EU citizen to enjoy the rights afforded to him. I don't see any point entering the EU as an American when you do not require such permission to enter. Commented May 19, 2017 at 21:19
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    @ZachLipton I hasten to add that the law says US citizens must "bear" a US passport, which, of course, says nothing about who they must show it to or whether any electronic record of a US citizen's departure must show a US passport.
    – phoog
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 21:20
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    There's no requirement to check in with a US passport, and in some cases, that would be impossible. If the OP were, say, a Russian citizen flying to Russia, and they checked in with a US passport, the airline would refuse because they wouldn't have have a Russian visa. As phoog notes, the requirement is to "bear" the passport, not to use it to check in. In this case, as a practical matter, the OP can show either passport at check-in and it's unlikely to matter. Commented May 19, 2017 at 21:27
  • @RodneyHawkins why should she check in with the US passport when flying to Europe? What will she do when Etias comes online?
    – phoog
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 22:04

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