It’s only February, but if you are planning to go overseas this summer you are likely looking into booking flights and hotels already now. At least, you should. Usually, six months before starting a trip is a good time to take advantage of some good prices before they will rise, the closer you get to your chosen travel date.
As a dual citizen you have the privilege of owning passports from two different countries; as a CaliforniaGermans, you likely have one passport from Germany and another from the United States.
You probably are already aware of the fact that you should always have both passports with you when going on a trip to a foreign country, but are you equally sure about, in what situation you need to use one passport over the other?
How about when you book your flight? Does it matter what passport you use or will you risk getting in trouble with customs later?
We spoke with Petra Korn, owner of pKorn Law, who specializes in Immigration Law, e.g. dual citizenship, re-gaining German citizenship, other US immigration issues, and assists with immigration to Germany as well. She has offices in both, California and Germany.
CaliforniaGermans – Petra, are there any particular rules that I, as a dual citizen, must follow when going through passport control upon entering Germany? Can I use either customs line, the one for European citizens or the one for foreigners?
Petra – That is a very good question. First of all, one should travel with both passports. You leave the US with the US passport.
As a German citizen, it is actually the law that you have to enter Germany with the German passport. Otherwise, it would be considered a so-called “Ordnungswidrigkeit.”
When returning to the US, you probably need to show both passports as you don’t get a stamp in your US passport and thus, the customs office will know that you hold another passport. I always show both passports.
CaliforniaGermans – What about traveling from the US to France, Italy or any other county in the European Union. Does the same “passport rule” apply to a German-American dual citizen, as if he/she was entering Germany or is there a difference? Which passport does one best use in that scenario?
Petra – Whenever traveling to/entering a EU country, I would use the German passport, so the same advice as mentioned before applies.
CaliforniaGermans – What about traveling to other non-European Union countries. What’s the deal there?
Petra – When traveling to a country that’s not within the European Union, it is important to familiarize oneself with the respective policy for entering that country and the possible need to obtain a Visa.
One should do some research about the respective Visa regulations for the country one intends to visit with sufficient time to obtain a Visa, if needed. Depending on the country, decide which passport to use, meaning which one makes it easier to enter the country.
CaliforniaGermans – When booking a flight to Europe you are asked to give your passport information at some point. Which passport do I need to use when booking a flight? Is there a preference? Will choosing one over the other get me in trouble with the airline at check-in later on?
Petra – When booking a flight to Germany, for example, I enter my German passport information. At check-in, the airline will then also ask me for Visa/passport information since I usually have a return flight to the US and thus, you need to have a Visa, Green Card or Passport to re-enter the US.
Thank you, Petra, for taking the time to clarify some pressing travel questions for us!
pKornLaw – A Professional Corporation:
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pKorn Law – advises domestic and international clients mainly in the fields of German Law, Business Law (company formation, drafting and revising contracts), and Immigration Law, for example, dual citizenship, re-gaining German citizenship, and U.S. citizenship. PKornLaw has over 18 years of expertise in the German and the U.S./California legal system
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Images: PassportsImage ©CaliforniaGermans; Portrait ©PetraKorn