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I was looking for some advice on going to China from the US. I have dual citizenship, Japan and US, and I want to use my Japanese passport to enter China.

US to China

  • At the counter: show JP passport.
  • At immigration: show US passport (LAX doesn't have leaving immigration?).
  • Entering China: show JP passport.

China to US

  • At the counter: show US passport.
  • At immigration: show JP passport.
  • Entering the US: show US passport.

I am worried about being asked where I was when I re-enter the US. Will it matter if I tell them China, even if I didn't go through immigration with my US passport?

marked as duplicate by mts, Giorgio, Mark Mayo Supports Monica Jul 6 '18 at 13:01

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  • 4
    US doesn't have exit controls – user102008 Jul 20 '17 at 22:58
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    I would be more worried about leaving China than entering the US. As a US citizen you constitutionally cannot be denied entry to the US no matter what. – user102008 Jul 20 '17 at 23:02
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    When leaving China, Chinese exit controls may wonder about how you are going to enter the US (they have been known to do this with people leaving on Chinese passports to detect people who have already lost Chinese nationality by naturalizing abroad; not sure whether they will do this with foreign passports; Japan is part of the VWP, but then that would require an ESTA to enter the US). Not sure if they will be okay with you showing both passports. Also, the airline may wonder why you do not have a Chinese departure card in your US passport. – user102008 Jul 20 '17 at 23:03
  • You may need to show both passports on check-in in the US. Your JP passport presumably does not have a US entry stamp or associated arrival record. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 20 '17 at 23:24
  • Japanese citizens can go to the US for up to 90 days on a travel visa. Would that explanation go through? – Josh Shigaki Jul 20 '17 at 23:49

The US accepts the idea of dual citizenship (sort of reluctantly, but they do). If the immigration official asks on entering the US where you have been, say China. In the event that the immigration officer notices that you don't have a corresponding entry stamp for China in your US passport, you can say you used a different passport.

  • Thanks for the quick reply. Does the rest of the process look okay for me to get through to China and back? – Josh Shigaki Jul 20 '17 at 23:06
  • @JJJ22142: I don't foresee any issues. Japan and the US both have allowed you dual citizenship, and China has to be okay with that (they can't really argue with another nation's citizenship laws). Airline staff deal with this sort of thing all the time. – Greg Hewgill Jul 21 '17 at 0:11
  • Does Japan allow dual citizenship? – Patricia Shanahan Jul 21 '17 at 1:03
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    @PatriciaShanahan: In some cases, yes. Not in general. See Japanese Nationality Law. – Greg Hewgill Jul 21 '17 at 1:04

Yes, your sequence is correct. At least, it's what I do all the time and never had any problems.

  1. Always use your US passport to leave and enter the US.
  2. Always enter and leave a country on the same passport.
  3. Obvious: if you need a visa, make sure you use the passport that has the visa in it.
  4. Check in for a flight with the passport that you will use to enter the destination. If your departure country has advanced exit controls, use both passports.
  5. If in doubt, ask the airline agent. They actually are pretty good with this. I recently checked in with two passport: using my German one to leave Germany and the US one to enter South Korea. The check in agent wanted to see both for the paperwork.
  • 1
    "To leave the US": there are no exit controls. – phoog Jul 21 '17 at 1:09
  • @phoog: For now viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2017/01/28/… – Hilmar Jul 21 '17 at 1:14
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    My understanding of the biometric entry/exit tracking system (BEETS?) is that the exit records would continue to be created by the airlines. It was originally proposed 15 or so years ago after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. – phoog Jul 21 '17 at 1:28
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    ... so it will be moderately surprising if it is completed while the current president remains in office. – phoog Jul 21 '17 at 4:16

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