Turns out there are lots of dual citizens from Australia and America (and other countries) and there is lots of differing advice that comes out about which passport you should travel on when traveling to and from the US and Australia. Putting asides all the opinions – which passport should you actually travel with?
So first things first, you are a dual citizen, if you:
- are an Australian citizen, are granted citizenship of another country and don't lose your Australia citizenship, or
- remain a citizen of another country and become an Australian citizen
That bit, I hope you do know! Not all countries actually allow for this, so it's worth checking before you start down the path. The U.S. does allow for this.
Which passport to use traveling to and from Australia
The first thing you must know is that you are not allowed to get an Australian visa if you are an Australian citizen (including dual citizen). So do not apply for a visitor visa if you're popping back.
Australian citizens should use their Australian passport to enter and leave Australia.
If you have a passport from another country, you can use that after you leave Australia.
This includes if your Australian passport is expired.
The world “should” is listed there from the Department of Home Affairs, because:
You might still be able to enter Australia if you are an Australian citizen without an Australian passport, but it will be more difficult. The airline might also stop you from boarding a plane to Australia.
So, technically it's possible, but knowing how difficult immigration is even at the best of times, I wouldn't test it.
You should show the passport
So in summary: Entering or leaving Australia, Australian passport. But pack both always to save confusion.
Which passport to use traveling to the U.S.
When you arrive in the U.S., if you have a U.S. citizenship, the same rules apply.
From the U.S. Department of State:
U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport to travel to or from a country other than the United States is not inconsistent with U.S. law.
If you enter and show a foreign passport with a visa, then you will have that visa's status attached to you. Therefore, if you hold permanent residency (a “green card”), or citizenship and passport, you want to make sure that they are what you use to enter and nothing else (like an old visa in your passport).
For many, this will mean highlighting to the officer when you arrive exactly what your situation is, and making sure it is understood and stamped accordingly.
You don't want to have to go through changing this in the future because it's time consuming and often incredibly difficult.
So in summary: Entering or leaving the U.S., U.S. passport. But pack both always to save confusion.
Tips for passports at the airport
You can in many cases actually ask the airline to link your two passports which may make your life easier. You will have to do this per airline, but it will mean that there should be less confusion moving forward.
If you are a dual citizen: Arrive and leave countries with your passport from that country.
Always pack both passports so that you don't have any last minute emergencies.