Border police and airlines do not handle travelers with multiple passports.
They expect each traveler to have ONE passport. Showing two (or more) passports at border checks led to bad results for many people I met in my experience as an immigration lawyer: border officers may easily delay you and let you miss a connecting flight.
What should you know to avoid any problem at European border checks?
1. European countries have immigration checks on EXIT, too!
Most countries in the world have immigration checks only on their entrance. Not in Europe.
Most European States are tied to the Schengen Agreement. They share external borders and the area within, a common space uniting more European countries, is called the Schengen area. Each traveler is expected to show the passport to the immigration police upon arrival at any point of entry of the Schengen area and also at any point of exit.
Schengen states (26): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden.
2. You are supposed to show only ONE passport.
If you have more than one passport, which passport is it best to use?
International law requires a person to use the passport with the best connection with the country you want to access.
If you are traveling to Italy and have an Italian passport or ID card, Italian law requires you to use that to identify yourself. Most states in the world have a similar policy.
3. If you have an Italian passport
1. If you have an Italian passport, you MUST show that (and only that) upon entering or leaving Italy, at any airport or another border crossing.
2. If you arrive at any other point of entry in the Schengen area (and you do not have a passport of that particular country), again show your Italian passport. That is because Italy has privileged relations with all European Union countries.
Italian citizens can enter the EU countries freely, together with their family members. Follow the signs for European citizens and show your Italian passport.
4. If you do not have an Italian passport
If you are traveling to Italy and do not have an Italian passport, the most convenient choice is to use the passport of the state with which Italy has special border policy agreements, such as one of the countries of the Schengen area (see list above). That allows you to enjoy free access without the limitations for non-EU citizens.
Other convenient passports are those of states for which Italy has no visa requirement, at least for short stays. The list varies from year to year. You can check whether you need a visa according to your passport and country of usual residence: official visa website of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
5. How does the 90-days rule work with 2 passports?
Even if you are “visa-free”, a 90-days limit applies. The Schengen area policy is such that you can stay for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-days period.
If you have more than one passport and none is of a Schengen state (listed above), the same rule applies. Each person has a 90 days stay limit within the 180-days period.
6. Ticket data = passport data
Write your data carefully according to what is written on your passport when traveling to Italy and to Europe.
Border police checks start with matching your passport data (including the passport number) with your travel ticket, as well as an EU Passenger Locator Form and whatever other document they may request at any given time of the year.
If the border police notice any difference, a deeper and more time-consuming control will take place. The outcome depends on the law of the state in which you find yourself at the time of entry. Moreover, You can be denied boarding if your name on it differs in anything from that on the registered passport in your flight booking.
Not only the passport number on your travel ticket and forms can be an issue. In some cases, the same person’s name and last name may vary from your Italian passport to the passport of another country. For example, a married woman’s last name may be registered differently from country to country. Whilst many states apply the husbands’ name to a wife, in Italy the maiden name usually applies to all ID documents. Moreover, the spelling of the name spelling may vary, according to the law of each state. Italy applies the name(s) and spelling exactly as in the concerned person’s birth record. The name on the birth record must match exactly the name on the passport.
7. What if you already booked your trip with your other passport?
The risk is high that you will be denied boarding. So it is important to change your ID data on your travel ticket.
Most airlines allow you to change your data until checking in (for a fee). If you do not manage to obtain the change online or via the airline customer care before your departure date, you can obtain the changes at the check-in counter or at the airline office in the airport.
Show your Italian passport BOTH at entry and exit points. Your hassle-free journey starts with your booking. Remember to write the data on your Italian passport.
Would you like to know more? Download my free SPECIAL 2 PASSPORT TRAVEL KEY
Which checks are you meeting on your way IN and on your way OUT of Europe?
Which passport are you supposed to show at border checks outside of Europe, as an Italian dual citizen?
More details on how does the 90-days rule work with 2 passports
PASSPORTS TRAVEL KEY
My husband has italian and british passport and resides in the Uk.Can he book a return flight using his italian passport but enter the uk border with his uk passport? A friend told him he would have to book his outbound flight with his italian data and the return flight with Uk data (passport) this means him having to book one way flights.
Of course he will book a return flight using his Italian passport data. That will allow him to pass the entry and exit checks in the Schengen area. Your husband will show his British passport upon entering the UK.
Hi Lara, I am a dual British/Italian national. I am planning to fly to Italy via Amsterdam. Which Passport details (Italian or British) should I use for the KLM boarding pass/check in? should I show my British passport on exiting/entering the UK and my Italian passport on Entering/exiting Italy, is that correct? Or just show one or the other? Which Passport should I show in Amsterdam? Thank you
That’s correct. In Amsterdam – and everywhere in the EU – you will show your Italian passport. That is because it is your EU passport.
Hi Lara, so I am lucky enough to have Irish parents, so I’ve managed to apply for passport for myself and my kids, I see in a previous answer you say to just use the Italian (EU) passport for the whole journey when travelling from the UK to Italy, so, I guess this is also the case for me when I book for France, if this is the case do I really need to take my UK passport and if not do we really even need to hold a valid UK passport?
I really need to understand my options until it becomes second nature. I’d hate to be delayed in another country.
Thank you, it’s very much appreciated. 🙂
It is crucial to distinguish the entry and exit checks and between the different border police of each country. You should use the Irish (EU) passport at the entry and exit checks to the EU for the EU border police. You need to take your UK passport to come back to the UK. You will show it to the UK border police, anytime you meet them, and especially upon re-entering the UK, after your trip in the European Union. I hope this clarification works well for you.
Hi, as the UK has left the EU. For visiting Europe (e.g. France), I can enter and exit the EU on the EU passport and when leavinG/landing use UK?
So I would use my UK passport to leave the UK (enter UK details to airline). On landing use the European (Dutch passport). Then to get back to the UK, enter my European details for the flight to leave on Dutch passport and when I land switch back to the UK passport for immigration?
That sounds correct. Enjoy your trip!
So from what I understand, I should leave Australia on my Aus passport and when I land in Europe I should use my Polish passport and continue to use it until I come home to Aus and then when I land home in Aus use my Aus passport? Is that correct?
I plan to fly to Spain when the UK leaves the EU. I have a UK passport and an Irish passport. What would be your advice? I got my Irish passport because I wanted to retain some of the advantages of EU membership. Should I book my flight using my UK passport and go through Spanish immigration using my Irish passport: Book my flight using my Irish passport only but take my UK passport in case I need it for emergencies should I need to approach the consulate
I recommend using your Irish passport at all times to avoid any uncertainty. Do not show two passports at any time because that confuses the authorities and usually translates into delays and mistakes.