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Dual citizenship - which passport to use and when?

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Dual citizenship - which passport to use and when?

Postby DualMan » Sat 14 Jun 2014 16:19 GMT

Hello

I recently acquired dual citizenship (South African and British). I live in the UK. I have a question about which passport to use and when.

I think its easier to use a recent example. I travelled to Turkey for holiday but to enter Turkey you need an e-visa which can be applied for online. I found out that South Africans don't have to pay anything for the Turkey tourist e-visa (but the British do and its £20). So I applied for the tourist visa with my South African passport details and booked the flight using my South African passport details.

When I left the UK I checked in at the flight desk with my SA passport and showed them my Turkey e-visa. No problem at all.

When I arrived in Turkey I went through immigration with my SA passport and e-visa. Again, no problem.

When I needed to leave Turkey (holiday was over!) I gave the check-in desk my SA passport which started some problems! Unfortunately they were all talking Turkish but finally someone said to me that there was a problem letting me on the plane as I didn't have a UK visa in my SA passport which would allow me entry to the UK (FYI: My SA passport had been renewed recently so it didn't even have the ILR stamp in it).

I then explained to them that I had a British passport as well and they all laughed and said: Why didn't you just say so! And they issued me the ticket and I went through Turkish immigration with my SA passport to get the exit stamp and all was good. When I arrived in London I used my UK passport.

Having thought about this, what is the correct way of travelling on two passports (taking the above into account)?

There will be times when I want to travel on the SA passport as tourist visas are cheaper/free (India is a good example as well as Turkey) and I will most definitely need to travel to South Africa on my SA passport.

From what I can tell, the problem is that the airlines are doing a visa/passport check before checking you in.

So using my holiday to Turkey as an example, how should I have done it?

1) Which passport should I have booked my flight with

2) Which passport should I have used to check in with when leaving the UK

3) Which passport should I have used when leaving Turkey

Can someone assist please? :D

I do realise that I need to enter/exit the UK with the British passport (same applies to entering/leaving SA with the South African passport) and that I also need to enter/exit any other country with just one passport (ie: don't enter on one passport and then leave on another)
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Postby Graeme » Sat 14 Jun 2014 17:28 GMT

They are very interesting questions and probably need an in depth answer which I'm sure Dave can provide (no pressure Dave) I'd be interested to know the answers too. I see quite a few Canadians with both passports and have often thought about using mine to enter the UK (it's a lot easier than entering on my Canadian passport) but I also wondered about entering and exiting on different passports.
Thanks for the questions; Dave, over to you :D
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Postby Dave » Sat 14 Jun 2014 17:34 GMT

Hi, DualMan, and welcome. Great question! :-D

As I understand it:

The airline needs your passport at the time of booking for identification purposes - it doesn't necessarily have to be the passport you use to travel with throughout, but you might find you need to produce it at the check-in desk [Edit: in addition to the one you're planning to use while travelling]. (That said, Kay and I have never had to, as far as I remember. There have been times when I've booked flights using our British passports but we've used our Irish passports to enter and leave the other country - it's never bothered the departure check-in desk on the return flight.)

The check-in desk are checking two things - a) that you are the person who was booked to travel [Edit: changed from 'who booked the flights'], and b) that you have a valid visa or the right of visa-free entry to the destination country - the airlines get fined (about US$ 2,000, I think) for bringing passengers who don't have either of those.

The immigration authorities of the country you're in are checking a) on arrival to see that you have the right to enter the country and b) on departure to record the fact of your leaving and to see that you haven't overstayed (and collect any fines due if you have).

Based on that, I'd say the answers to your questions are:

1) It doesn't particularly matter as long as it's valid;

2) The South African one - but have the British passport ready to show them as well if you used it to book the flight;

3) The South African one at the immigration desk, because that's the one you used to enter Turkey - but show the British passport at the check-in desk because that's the one you're intending to use to enter the UK.

[Edit: Graeme posted his while I was composing mine. :lol:]
Last edited by Dave on Sat 14 Jun 2014 23:00 GMT, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby DualMan » Sat 14 Jun 2014 19:44 GMT

The airline needs your passport at the time of booking for identification purposes - it doesn't necessarily have to be the passport you use to travel with throughout, but you might find you need to produce it at the check-in desk. (That said, Kay and I have never had to, as far as I remember. There have been times when I've booked flights using our British passports but we've used our Irish passports to enter and leave the other country - it's never bothered the departure check-in desk on the return flight.)


I have always been asked for my passport when checking in (unless its a domestic flight and then I only produce a drivers license)

I think this confirms what I was thinking (and experienced in Turkey), the check-in desk doesn't care what passport you use so long as its valid and the names match the ticket? When I booked my flight to Turkey I entered my SA passport number which is why I was surprised when they accepted my British passport when checking in at the desk in Turkey!

Based on that, I'd say the answers to your questions are:

1) It doesn't particularly matter as long as it's valid;

Ok, so I can book any flight online and provide the passport number of either passport and it shouldn't matter

2) The South African one - but have the British passport ready to show them as well if you used it to book the flight;

I'm assuming this is correct as the visa was issued for the SA passport

3) The South African one at the immigration desk, because that's the one you used to enter Turkey - but show the British passport at the check-in desk because that's the one you're intending to use to enter the UK.

This is important as when exiting Turkey I saw the immigration office look for my entry stamp!



Thanks for the answers! See my comments in BOLD above...A further question/comment would be:

4) In theory it doesn't matter which passport I presented to the check-in desk at Turkey when wanting to fly back to the UK but because South Africans now need a visa to visit the UK they were worried about letting me board the flight. So I'm guessing here that I could have presented the SA passport in the UK when checking in (as this passport had the Turkey visa) but then presented the British passport when checking in on the Turkey side to return to the UK? In other words I am using a different passport to check in with on each side.

Sorry to overcomplicate this but I just want to make sure I understand this 100%.

Thanks again!
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Postby Dave » Sat 14 Jun 2014 23:12 GMT

DualMan wrote:I have always been asked for my passport when checking in (unless its a domestic flight and then I only produce a drivers license)


Sorry, ambiguity on my part. (It was after midnight here, that's my excuse!) What I meant to say was that you might conceivably need to produce the passport you used to make the booking as well as the one you're planning to use to travel with.

DualMan wrote:I think this confirms what I was thinking (and experienced in Turkey), the check-in desk doesn't care what passport you use so long as its valid and the names match the ticket?


Not quite. The check-in desk want to see the passport you'll be using at the other end, to make sure you have a visa (or right of visa-free entry) into the destination country. If you're not, then the airline will be liable for a fine.

Your comments in bold are spot on. So is your No.4, except I'd substitute the word "should" for "could" in
I could have presented the SA passport in the UK when checking in (as this passport had the Turkey visa)
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Postby DualMan » Sat 21 Jun 2014 16:04 GMT

Thanks for all the help regarding this! I have a further set of questions!

In the past I have travelled to countries on my South African passport (before I had the British one). Some needed visas and some didn't.

For countries I have entered before with a South African passport, can I now use my British passport rather?

There are a couple of countries I visited years ago that required a tourist visa in advance and if/when I visit that country again I would much prefer to use the British passport as no tourist visa is needed.

So the question is: Can I, from now on, use my British passport wherever I go? Even for countries previously visited on a South African passport?

Thanks!

Edit: One further point about which passport to use when when booking into a flight at the check-in desk. I thought the airline kept a note of what your nationality was when you checked in and originally booked your flight. Doesn't this make them suspicious if you check-in with one passport on one side and then using another passport on the other side?
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Postby Dave » Sat 21 Jun 2014 16:23 GMT

You can use either passport to enter any country. I suspect that in practice they'll identify dual nationals' passports as belonging to one person, so if you've been barred from a country on one passport I doubt whether you'd get in on a passport of a different nationality.

In answer to your second question: It's really not the airline's business to do the police's job for them. I think the airline's interest is limited to satisfying the legal requirements placed on them: ensuring that you are who you say you are, and that you're not an attempted illegal immigrant. As I say, Kay and I have been on several return journeys where we've used our British passports at one end and our Irish passports at the other, and the check-in staff have never batted an eyelid. (I should add that in every case, both British and Irish citizens were allowed visa-free entry to both the countries involved.)
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Postby DualMan » Sat 21 Jun 2014 16:29 GMT

Lucky for me I have never been barred from any country so I guess I'll be ok then using either passport to enter countries I have visited before! Some countries I have visited have taken my fingerprints so I just thought that may confuse them or cause them to become suspicious when I tried to enter on another passport.

What you have said about using either passport at the check-in desk confirms my experience when using the SA passport on the UK side and then using a different passport (British) on the other side for returning. When using a different passport to return to the UK, none of the airline people seemed to care!
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Postby Dave » Sat 21 Jun 2014 16:50 GMT

Yep - the check-in staff are the airline's employees and acting for the airline, not for the immigration authorities.
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