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Passports: What are the rules for dual-nationals travelling in France?

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Passports: What are the rules for dual-nationals travelling in France?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports - so what are the rules for crossing borders and which passport should you show?


For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled - but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long 'non EU' queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But when travelling there can be issues - put simply; which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Dual nationality

People often assume - not unreasonably - that dual passports are somehow 'linked', so that for example when you scan your US passport, the system realises that you are also a citizen of France.

This is, however, not the case, and how you are dealt at the border depends on which passport you are showing, not any other passports that you might own.

That means that the issue of which passport you show at the border is important.


For example, Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force "detained" his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport - and not her British one. 


He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her "and asked why she was travelling on her German one".

Likewise The Local has heard stories of dual French-US nationals refused boarding at Charles de Gaulle airport because they were travelling on a French passport but had not completed the necessary ESTA visa (required for European tourists into the US).

In short - if you're showing a French passport you will be treated as French, not French-American, and so on.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it's worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you'll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip - and you may be able to avoid visa requirements as well as benefiting from shorter queues at the border.

For example, if you're entering France on a British passport, your passport will be stamped and you will be limited to 90 days in every 180 (unless you have a visa). If you enter France on a French passport, then there are no restrictions. 

Likewise if you're entering the UK on a French passport you may be stopped and required to show proof of where you are staying and asked whether you intend to work - entering on a British passport will avoid this.

A spokesman for the UK's Home Office said: "An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present."


The US has slightly different rules and American citizens - including dual nationals - are required to use their US passport when entering and leaving the country.

This also entitles you to a shorter queue and fewer immigration restrictions when you enter the country.

Do I have to carry both passports?

There's no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won't get the benefits associated with each passport if you're not able to show it. Again, don't assume that the two passports are 'linked' or that the official will know that you are a dual national.

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

In general, it's best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.


The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving - and they will either stamp or scan the passport - this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn't overstayed their time in the country. 

So for example if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter the EU or Schengen zone, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.

If you enter the EU on a non-EU passport, your passport is likely to be stamped under the 90-day rule. If you are a citizen of an EU country you are not, in fact, limited to 90 days and can prove your right to stay by showing your EU passport.

You may, however, face questions when you leave the country if your passport has a 90-day stamp in it. 


Comments (10)

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Bryan Woy 2023/06/27 22:43
What an informative article - thank you, The Local, for all your good advice. This is exactly what I've just done, showing my French passport when leaving and arriving in France, and my UK passport when arriving in and leaving Britain. It all seemed to work OK.
Carol Schoen 2023/06/27 18:43
My British passport was stamped by mistake (I wasn't quick enough to produce my carte de séjour) at the Gare du Nord going to the UK. I hope it won't be a problem later on future trips to and from the UK !
Robin Kellett-Navellou 2023/06/27 15:04
If you're visiting the UK from France, carry both passports. Leave the EU/Schengen on your EU passport, enter the UK on a UK passport and vice versa, leave the UK on your UK passport and enter the EU on your EU passport. Also get a double passport holder and if you have a family with dual citizenship buy different coloured holders for each of you for ease of identifying which document belongs to which of you.
Anonymous 2022/10/31 18:35
I hold both Canadian and British passports. What's to stop me entering the Schengen zone with my UK passport and staying the maximum 90 days? At that point, I leave Schengen for a day and re-enter with my Canadian passport. Can I then stay another 90 days?
eileen_483776 2022/09/21 18:34
I agree with Steven above - many countries require that you enter the country of your nationality on that passport. For example Canadians CANNOT enter Canada on anything other than a Canadian passport. But when travelling back to Ireland, I need to use my Irish passport meaning that, as far as Canada know, I am still there, drifting around without a job or home.
Anonymous 2022/09/06 12:09
Those with an Irish passport just need to carry that one: the benefits of an EU citizen entering France and unrestricted UK access due to the Common Travel Area.
Anonymous 2022/09/03 11:24
It’s a no brainier really and the journalist from the FT should simmer down. It’s obvious that they must go by the passport presented. I think reasonable to ask why you didn’t use your UK passport. My partner is dual German/British. By ferry from Caen to Portsmouth. UK at checkin (booking on UK) German at French control. UK at Portsmouth Dual nationals are so lucky, take all your passports :-)
Anonymous 2022/09/02 17:30
As a dual EU/UK national I’d understood best practice is now to use the EU passport when entering and leaving the EU and the Uk passport when entering and leaving the Uk. A pain to carry both but allows a quicker passage, ensures the systems in each country register who’s coming and going and avoids issues with visas etc. Usually no problems doing this, but recently at Eurostar terminal where the UK and French controls are next to each other a member of staff tried to stop me doing this. Said I had to leave the Uk and enter EU with the same passport. Another then stepped in and said it was fine… so it seems clarification would indeed be helpful!
Anonymous 2022/09/02 13:25
If you have a Swedish and UK passport, leave Sweden with your Swedish passport and enter Britain with your UK one. On return, leave Britain with your UK passport and enter Sweden with your Swedish. Simple. And if you travel to elsewhere in Europe, use your Swedish passport, unless you love queuing!
steven_454846 2022/09/01 18:32
You mentioned above that "The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country." However, many countries require you to enter with the passport of that country if you are a citizen of that country. E.g. from this official US government site: "U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States."
  • Emma Pearson 2022/09/02 08:26
    Hi Steven, yeah we mention the US rule further down in the article - but this is focusing on travel between the UK and EU for dual UK/EU nationals

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