Which passport(s) should you show at the border?

It feels like you need to get it right when you get to the border. But what is "right" if you've got two or more passports or nationalities? And, with Brexit coming on 1 January 2021, how do we make sure we show the correct travel document? As long as your travel documents are legal, not expiring and actually show your name - I may have failed on this third checkbox before - you'll be fine. Here are three approaches to showing your passport if you've got more than one nationality.

Duel Nationality Blog Two Passports at Border Brexit 2021 dual nationality riutbag riut sarah giblin

Which passport do you show in a third country?

If you're travelling to a third country unrelated to your nationalities, you can choose which passport you show. Use the passport that gives you the easiest way in: e.g. the most visa freedom, the longest visit, the most protection. If you have travel insurance, you may have to make sure your nationality fits with the one on your insurance documentation. 

Which passport do you show in a country where you are a citizen?

If you're travelling between your two nationalities - for me that's between Germany and UK - there are three approaches.

1) Show the passport of your nationality in that country. At the UK border on my way to Germany, I show them my UK passport. Then, at the German border on arrival, I show the German passport or identity card.

However, with Brexit rules coming on 1 January 2021, it feels the process should change. 

2) You need to show that you are able to enter into the country you're travelling to without a visa. So, now you'll enter using the passport of the country you're going to. E.g. At the UK border on my way to Germany I'll show my German passport. However, they may wish to see the visa that allowed my German self to be in the UK at all. At that point I'll have to show my UK passport too.

3) I think, until Brexit has settled, I'll just show both passports in the UK and Germany. That will confirm that I'm allowed to be in Germany or UK and I'm allowed to go to the other country without any further documentation. But we'll see. 

Can I show both my passports at the border?

I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm busting my cover as a double-agent when I show both my passports to the authorities. But honestly, there's no problem showing both. It turns out, the border staff already know all your nationalities and documents. I know this because I used my UK passport in Germany just after my German passport was stolen in Vietnam.  When I showed my UK passport at the German border they said: "Have you replaced your stolen passport yet?" 

I felt like I was in the Matrix and was suddenly completely transparent. Seen through in every possible direction. THEY KNOW?! Of course they know. But, THEY KNOW. 

So given thy know, you can show them everything required and let them choose what they need to see. You can ask them because they know more about it than we do. 

This blog relates to movement between two countries without political and geographical disputes. My experience moving between Germany and the UK may differ to yours. Which countries do you move between with your passports? Have you got any tips or experience dealing with this?

Thanks for reading! More soon.

Sarah Giblin

Duel Nationality Blog author and RiutBag designer

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