How to travel with two passports: A tale of two passports

How to travel with two passports

I am very fortunate enough to be the passport holder of two amazing countries. One my birth country of the United Kingdom. The other is my Canadian passport which I acquired after my family immigrated over when I was a child. I’ve always travelled on my British passport everywhere I went. When I finally got my Canadian passport I only ever used it to enter Canada with.

Although I knew it was perfectly legal to travel on two passports, I just never did and never had the need to. Until now….

Travelling on two passports

Enter- stupidity! I would pride myself on being a fairly seasoned traveller. I plan well, am fairly organised and can get myself and partner to our destination fairly easily. The only time I get stressed out is when I’m booking tickets as I have (once) made an error with the booking.

So in December, I was merrily searching and carefully booking flights for our weekend away to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I knew my passport was expiring in June but June was miles away. Having always travelled in Europe, I also wasn’t really aware some countries didn’t let you in if you didn’t have 6 months remaining on your passport.

I continued on in travel bliss until in January, I was booking another trip to Bangkok and the airline prompted me to check that I had 6 months left on my passport….. panic! I definitely wouldn’t by the time of my trip in March.

So I was left with a little dilemma. My Employment pass for working in Singapore was tied to my British passport but I had a perfectly good Canadian passport that wasn’t expiring for another 8 years and had never been used. What do to? Well, I didn’t want to book this trip last minute and face skyrocketing flight prices. So I booked with my Canadian passport with the intention of renewing my British passport before the trip.

But what about Cambodia?

All was fine for my trip to Bangkok in March but I still had my upcoming trip to Cambodia to deal with. Luckily after a few phone calls, I found out that I could return back to Singapore on my British passport that would have been shy the 6 months requirement by 3 days. My saving grace was that my employment pass was still valid.

But that still meant I had to travel on two passports to Cambodia.
So how do you do this without looking like your Jason Bourne?

How to travel:

How to travel with two passports

The rules are simple really. Basically, you have to enter and leave a country using the same passport.
So in further detail. Here is what I did for my trip from Singapore to Cambodia. Passport A is my British passport, Passport B is my Canadian passport.

Step 1: At check in for your flight, show passport B (the one you want to enter your destination with).
Example: I checked in with my Canadian passport

Step 2: At exit immigration of the country you are presently in, show passport A (the passport that demonstrates you have the right to be there, citizen, birth). Example: At exit immigration in Singapore I showed my British passport as it is tied to my Employment pass.

Step 3: At the gate, show either
Example: I showed both

Step 4: Fly (yipee!)

Step 5: At arrival immigration show Passport B
Example: I showed my Canadian passport upon arrival in Cambodia.

When returning home reverse the steps:

Step 6: check in with Passport B (but be prepared to show Passport A that demonstrates your right to be in the country you are travelling to)
Example: I showed my Canadian passport (and my British in this case as I wasn’t sure they would let me travel to Singapore without proof of my working visa.) at the airline check in desk.

Step 7: At exit immigration  show Passport B (the passport you used to enter the country)
Example: I showed my Canadian passport at Cambodian exit immigration

Step 8: At the gate show either
Example: I showed both

Step 9: Upon arrival of your home country show Passport A (the passport that demonstrates you have the right to be there)
Example: I showed my British passport and thankfully had no trouble returning to Singapore.

Lesson Learned: Renew your passport on time!!!!

Another example. If I was travelling from the UK to Canada.

How to travel with two passports

wixmaster via pixabay

Step 1: Present Passport B at online check in and desk check in for destination (Canada)

Example: I show Canadian passport at airline check in for flight to Canada

Step 2: Present Passport A at home country immigration desk.

Example: I show my British passport at UK exit immigration

Step 3: Show Passport B (the passport you are travelling on) at the gate. 

Example: Show Canadian passport (I always have both ready)

Step 4: Fly (Yipee)

Step 5: Show Passport B at arrival immigration in Canada

Example: I show Canadian passport (but again, I always have my British one handy)

And again, to leave you reverse the steps.

Step 6: Show Passport A (and probably Passport B) at check in to return to the UK. You need to demonstrate the airline that you have the right to enter the country you are travelling to, but they may want to check you had the right to be in the country you are departing.

Example: I show my British and Canadian passport

Step 7: Present Passport B at exit immigration to leave destination (Canada) country.

Step 8: Present Passport A at arrival immigration upon returning back to home country.

How to travel with two passports

photo credit: graceful via pixabay

So there you have it. It is perfectly legal to have and travel on two passports and there are plenty of benefits to doing so. Namely, not having to pay for visas and having more freedom of mobility.  

If you have any questions on how to legally travel on two passports, comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them. 

*Please note: I am not an immigration lawyer and when in doubt it is always best to consult your embassy or immigration (as I did when I was in Singapore) to double check the best way to travel. 

Happy travels!

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travel with two passports

16 Comments

    • I wouldn’t be surprised with increasing globalisation and the growth of TCK (third culture kids) that more and more of the population start to acquire two passports to travel on. While I’ll admit it can still feel like you are doing something wrong or Jason Bourne like, it may be a part of the future of travel.

      Reply
  1. I didn’t even know that something like traveling in dual passports does exist. I always thought you pick the one that is relevant to your travel and thats it. This is a really interesting read and led me to think into the benefits of traveling with two passports.

    Reply
    • I’d say for the most part it’s not necessary. It becomes a problem for dual citizens. I didn’t really need to travel on two passports until Canada made it mandatory for citizens to have a Canadian passport when travelling (which makes complete sense as before you could enter on another passport plus your citizenship card). So when I would go back and forth from the UK to Canada I would need to present two different passports. Initially I would just present both at every turn identification was required as unsure of what to do.However, after numerous immigration officers and airport staff/airline staff informed me, I learned what I needed to do.

      Reply
  2. Interesting read. I now understand having 2 passports can be a whole lot confusing while traveling. Your step by step guide is definitely going to help for those who are in this situation.

    Reply
    • Yes it does complicate matters. Usually, I’m fine. I tend to travel on one more than the other but when I travel between my two ‘home’ countries it can be annoying.

      Reply
    • Really? I didn’t realise there would be much gains from having two passports from the same continent if that makes sense. Does your friend enjoy having the two or find it a complicated process?

      Reply
    • haha really? I’ve always found it to be a complicated affair (and slightly costly having to maintain the upkeep of two passports).

      Reply
    • Thanks Joanna. I have yet to figure out how to work the self-serve kiosks when I have to present both passports. I never know which one to scan in. It’s still a learning process.

      Reply

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