The U.S. is just one of the more than 60 countries that permit dual citizenship, allowing its citizens to hold passports from other countries in addition to their American passports.
Dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality, allows you to work, live and study (among other benefits) in each country you hold citizenship, without the risk of losing your U.S. nationality.
There are multiple ways Americans can qualify for a second citizenship, including via marriage, birth, or citizenship by investment, a concept known as Golden Visa.
In addition to having two passports from different countries, Americans can also simultaneously hold two U.S. passports.
This story explains how dual nationality works in the U.S. and how to obtain multiple U.S. passports.
Can I have a U.S. passport and another passport?
As mentioned, federal law does not restrict Americans from becoming a national of two countries simultaneously and therefore holding passports from two different countries, a concept known as dual nationality.
“A child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth,” according to the State Department. “Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national.”
This means that U.S. citizens may “naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship,” thus making Americans eligible to hold passports from other countries and their U.S. passports.
Keep in mind that should a country such as Japan require you to renounce your U.S. nationality, you wouldn’t be able to hold two passports. Otherwise, you wouldn’t lose your American citizenship. Be sure to double-check that the second country allows you to dually hold an American passport in addition to theirs.
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Can I have a second U.S. Passport?
A little-known fact is that Americans are eligible to hold two U.S. passports at the same time, which can be particularly helpful for travelers who frequently travel to places that require visas.”As I work on trying to visit every country, I have to apply for a lot of visas. Sometimes these can take a long time,” explained TPG credit card writer Ryan Smith. “When I am planning an upcoming trip to multiple countries that need visas, I often don’t have enough time to wait for my first visa to be completed and then start the application for the second visa. Therefore, this helps me apply for two visas at the same time.”This application process works the same as it does for your normal passport application, but there’s an extra form you need to submit, explaining why you need a second passport. Applicants must submit this form, along with the other requested documents, photos and fees via mail.
Know you must meet several additional requirements in order to be deemed eligible for a second U.S. passport book, which the State Department outlines here. Valid reasons for applying for a second passport book include frequent international travel to places that require visas; travel to a foreign country that will deny entry based on previous travel to other countries and international urgent travel that does not provide enough time to process a visa, among others.
Applicants can choose from three types of standard service through the State Department, including expedited service, which takes three to five weeks, not including mailing times. Routine service currently takes six to nine weeks, according to current processing times.
Also note that your second U.S. passport will only be valid for four years, while your primary U.S. passport will remain valid for the normal 10 years.
Because you typically need to have an international trip coming up within the next three or four months to get approved for a second passport, Ryan recommends paying extra to go through a private agency to process this application. Options include ItsEasy Passports & Visas, Travel Visa Pro and Visa HQ.
“It’s simpler than doing it in the mail and having it get messed up or waiting until the absolute last minute and trying your luck at a passport agency location,” he said.
Another piece of advice from Ryan is to avoid having both U.S. passports on you at the same time to curb any potential confusion by border agents.
“This was a massive problem when I was stopped for a baggage inspection on a trip to several African countries. They lost their minds when they found that I had two passports and I had to contact the U.S. Embassy to provide approval and verification that both of my passports were valid and that neither one was fake,” he recalled. “That involved several hours.”
How do I apply for a different country’s passport?
The passport application process is country-specific, and you’ll need to go through the process for each passport you intend to obtain.
To apply for passports for other countries, start online by visiting the official government website of your respective country to verify you are eligible for another passport. Applicants will likely have to meet certain characteristics to obtain citizenship, such as having resided in a country for a certain amount of time. For example, the U.K. government explains how to apply for a U.K. passport online, which involves living in the country for at least 12 months, unless married to a U.K. citizen.
Holding passports from two different countries provides users with multiple benefits, including making it easier to obtain visas necessary to work or study in another country or simply just to enter the country.
For example, Ryan has a Brazilian passport in addition to two American passports, and which one he uses depends on the country to which he’s traveling.
“For countries that charge money for a visa, I can use a passport that has a cheaper or easier visa,” he told me. “Some countries have better rules for Americans, so I use that passport.”
Since no country in South America requires a visa or passport for Brazilian travelers, Ryan uses his Brazilian passport to travel between South American countries with just an ID. Even so, he would need a passport to travel to places beyond South America, such as from the U.S. to Brazil or vice versa.
Secondly, having multiple passports also allows these people to live in a country that is not their home country long-term, instead of being subject to the usual rules limiting the amount of time a tourist can stay within a respective country.
If you are a holder of a U.S. passport and another passport, a U.S. national or dual national, you must use your U.S. passport to travel in and out of the country.
Certain countries may also require dual nationals to use its passport to enter and leave that country, so consider bringing both your U.S. passport and any other passports you hold when traveling.
Having passports from two countries is possible for U.S. passport holders, in addition to many other countries. Not only can it make it easier to enter another country, but also helps users find employment opportunities abroad more seamlessly, as well as stay for extended periods of time within the country you hold a second passport.
If you are interested in obtaining a second passport to complement your American one, start with the government of the country you are targeting to determine if you are eligible for such.
If you are a frequent international traveler who could benefit from having a second U.S. passport, you can apply for one online through the State Department, though you may want to consider a private agency for expedited service and assistance.
For more information on the U.S. passport application process, be sure to read: