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How do I travel to a country where a visa is required for one of my citizenships, but not the other?
May 9, 2006 8:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm a US citizen, but through my dad I also have Swiss citizenship and a Swiss passport. I have to travel to Brazil for work and I found that for US citizens a visa is required (about $160), but Swiss citizens are exempt. Is it possible for me to travel to Brazil on my Swiss passport? If so, how would I go about doing that?

I know that at the US airport, they will ask if I have a visa to enter Brazil. Do I just show my Swiss passport? When they see the Swiss passport with no stamp from US immigration, they'll want to know how I got into the US. Then do I show my US passport? It's all very confusing.
posted by yasny_jp to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
 
(The Brazilian visa should be only $100, and it's in reciprocity for the screwing Brazilians get when applying for visas to the US. I know that doesn't answer your Swiss-US question, but it's $60 less irritation to feel over it if you can't swing it.)
posted by whatzit at 8:13 PM on May 9, 2006


I don't know about Brazil specifically, but I've travelled around using two passports (British and Australian), showing whichever was the cheaper option. No hassle whatsoever. I don't think the Brazilians would care how you got into the US.

The one time I was asked about this (leaving the UK when I only had my Australian passport - sans visa - on me), the official asked me about it and I said "I'm dual citizen, and I don't have my British passport with me. The home office have it just now", and he said "OK" and let me go.
posted by pompomtom at 8:14 PM on May 9, 2006


i got curious, so I did some research. According to this site, found via the wikipedia article on Multiple Citizenship, you must use your US passport to enter and leave the country. That does not mean that you do must enter Brazil under your US passport.

As for what you should do at the airport, this page on the law of dual citizenship seems to imply that it'd be a good idea to carry both, but attempting to re-enter the US with your foreign passport and not your US passport while you are a US citizen could net you a $100 fine.
posted by SpecialK at 8:25 PM on May 9, 2006


Although his FAQ says not to ... see #12.
posted by SpecialK at 8:33 PM on May 9, 2006


You can just show up with whatever passport that is legally yours and enter as per that nation's requirements for that particular kind of passport. I know people here in China who do that all the time.
posted by taschenrechner at 8:33 PM on May 9, 2006


It's quite common and not at all illegal to travel with two passports and use whichever is more beneficial to you. I.E., when entering Brazil, use the Swiss passport, when returning to the U.S., use the U.S. passport and get in the short "U.S. returning citizens" line.
posted by jellicle at 8:46 PM on May 9, 2006


Contact the Brazilian consulate nearest you and ask them for instructions. It would suck to arrive in Brazil and promptly go to jail for being a US citizen who tried to enter without the visa, which would even be a true (if uncharitable) description of you.

As Maher Arar can tell you, when a dual-national enters a third country, that country gets to pick which nationality you are, and the traveler does not necessarily get a say in the matter.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:14 PM on May 9, 2006


Asked here, and the poster says he/she '[l]eft the US and visited Brazil on my Swiss passport without a hitch. On return I used the US passport to get back in, no questions asked.'

Anywya, that FAQ covers everything you need to know, but you should certainly not feel compelled to travel under a US passport if you have another citizenship that is more advantageous when visiting another country. Yes, you should talk to the consulate; no, Brazil isn't going to render you.
posted by holgate at 10:47 PM on May 9, 2006


Listen this is REALLY important. Be sure to use the US passport when returning. There are a number of actions that can be interpreted by the state department as a relinquishment of your American citizenship. Being a US citizen and using another passport is one of them.
posted by zia at 11:11 PM on May 9, 2006


I always see that "US citizens/permanent residents" line at the airport and assume that if I was carrying both my US passport and another passport, I'd just show them the US one and be all squared away, because the line doesn't say US passport holders.

Honestly, your airline might give you more trouble about this than the Brazilians - they might demand that your name and nationality be the same on your tickets, and that you've got to choose one for their purposes. Ask your airline.
posted by mdonley at 5:58 AM on May 10, 2006


you should certainly not feel compelled to travel under a US passport if you have another citizenship that is more advantageous when visiting another country

But you'll need your US passport with you to get back into the US, and if they search your bags for whatever reason that will come out. At that point, you're whichever citizenship the border agent in Brazil says you are.

Just ask the consulate or embassy nearest you. They actually know minor details like, say, Brazilian law.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on May 10, 2006


Talk to the Brazilian consulate/embassy.

You should carry your US passport, regardless. I don't know anything at all about Brazilian border guards, but have plenty of experience with US border guards, and they have a lot of discretion - some will just eyeball you and go with their gut feeling, and others will require reams of documentation. If you have a passport to prove your citizenship, there's no difficulty.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:17 AM on May 10, 2006


Listen this is REALLY important. Be sure to use the US passport when returning. There are a number of actions that can be interpreted by the state department as a relinquishment of your American citizenship. Being a US citizen and using another passport is one of them.

This used to be true, but is no longer as of 1994. It's State Department policy that you have to forcibly resign your citizenship by assuming a high-level government position in another country, walking into an embasy and signing away your citizenship, performing a treasonous act or act of war against the united states, etc. Things like voting in a foreign election, using another country's passport that you also have citizenship in, marrying a foreign national, etc. no longer renounce your citizenship.

However, this is *policy* as opposed to law. Congress could, at any time, tell the State Department to reel it in and they'd have to ... even in violation of Supreme Court orders, which is where most of the State Department policy comes from.
posted by SpecialK at 10:54 AM on May 10, 2006


I have heard from friends with 2 passports that using the non-US passport to enter the US may result in delays, questioning, searches, etc. They don't care if you miss your connecting flight.
posted by theora55 at 4:05 PM on May 10, 2006


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