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Can I have two passports at once?
March 15, 2008 2:58 AM   Subscribe

I was born and live in the UK but I have a US passport. Can I get a UK one as well?

I was born in the UK and have lived here all my life; my father is a UK citizen. To the best of my knowledge that makes me (very) eligible for a UK passport. However, I also have US citizenship through my mother, and I have a US passport. I definitely want to keep the US passport as it's much harder to get and rather more useful.

However, it is often inconvenient living in the UK without a UK passport For instance, to apply for a drivers license I had to mail my original birth certificate and NI card to the DVLA; with a passport they verify identity automatically. It's also mildly useful to be able to use two different passport queues when travelling; it speeds up passing through Customs.

So, I was wondering what the policies are on having two separate passports. Can I just get a UK passport without worrying about it? Would I need to see an immigration lawyer to hack through the details? Is there a special process for having two passports? YANAL, YANMY etc.
posted by katrielalex to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have dual Australian/UK citizenship and for some years held both passports, although the Aussie one has now expired and I haven't got round to renewing it. It was never a problem, but then it was Australia, not the US.

I would check with the US Embassy in London to see if there's any objection to you holding a UK passport too.

A US citizen voluntarily acquiring British citizenship may lose his US citizenship; and a dual citizen who makes use of his British citizenship in certain ways, for example joining HM Forces, taking an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty and in certain circumstances exercising other rights or privileges of British citizenship, may jeopardise his US citizenship. The US authorities expect dual citizens to travel out of and into United States territory only on US passports. British citizens who are also US citizens are therefore advised to consult the US State Department (or if overseas a US Consul) before taking any action which might be regarded as inconsistent with their status as US citizens.
posted by essexjan at 3:10 AM on March 15, 2008

yes. lots of people are US/UK citizens. in fact, if you are a UK citizen you are legally supposed to enter the UK on a UK passport. this also holds true for the US - you are, by law, supposed to enter the US on a US passport.

simply means you that travelling between the two countries you need to bring both passports.

you do not lose your UK or US citizenship by acquiring the other, so there is no conflict.

just download the UK passport application from the Home Office passport website
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:21 AM on March 15, 2008

to answer essexjan's point above, while second nationalities are not recognised by the US, in practice it is nearly impossible to lose your US citizenship without formally renouncing it. taking the UK oath of citizenship does not require renouncing any other citizenships, so there is no conflict. there are thousands of American dual nationals who carry more than one passport.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:25 AM on March 15, 2008

if you are a UK citizen you are legally supposed to enter the UK on a UK passport

oo-er. I've entered the UK with a US passport nearly 20 times with no trouble (using a stamp for "leave of indefinite entry" or something). Have I been doing something wrong? None of the customs officials have ever blinked an eye...
posted by katrielalex at 3:26 AM on March 15, 2008

Yes. you can have both. I used to work at a british consulate and many of my coworkers had a british passport, but met american spouses, got married, got us citizenship and got us passports as well. Which passport they used depended on where they were going. If you are a British citizen, apply for a passport!
posted by necessitas at 4:02 AM on March 15, 2008

oo-er. I've entered the UK with a US passport nearly 20 times with no trouble (using a stamp for "leave of indefinite entry" or something). Have I been doing something wrong? None of the customs officials have ever blinked an eye...

so I dug out my new citizenship pack:

"as a British citizen, you now have a right of abode...your previous leave to enter/remain or settled status no longer applies to you. if you wish to travel on a non-British passport, it must be endorsed to show you have right of abode..."

so (to correct myself above) you don't have to have a UK passport, but you do have to get your US passport endorsed by the Home Office with a right of abode sticker, because your ILR is no longer officially valid.
posted by wayward vagabond at 5:42 AM on March 15, 2008

I have two passports, American and German. In my case I was born with a claim to German citizenship since my dad's German, so I didn't have to become a German citizen, I just had to apply for the passport. I think becoming a EU citizen in the normal way might involve renouncing your American citizenship, but being born with dual citizenship is different. The only way to know for sure is to ask your embassy. If they tell you that it's possible, then it will be very simple and you won't need a lawyer or anything; at the most you'll need your birth certificate and your parents'.
posted by creasy boy at 6:19 AM on March 15, 2008

Questions and answers on dual US/other citizenship
posted by normy at 6:19 AM on March 15, 2008

I'm an American who married a Brit and after a few years of living in the UK, I got my UK passport (and have kept my US one). My kids also hold both UK and US passports. It's not a problem and you don't need an immigration lawyer or anything like that. Just fill out the forms and after you receive your UK passport make sure you carry both passports when you travel back and forth to the US.
posted by gfrobe at 6:47 AM on March 15, 2008

I chose to become a Canadian citizen, and I now have two passports. I've never had a problem, but I was told by the US consulate here that it's a crime to enter the U.S. on a foreign passport. The Canadians are fine with a citizenship card, so I carry one.

You are in a grey area with a second passport. I would want a British passport incase I had some unpleasantness at British customs. Customs seem to be getting more arbitrary and nastier where ever I go.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:01 AM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

(As the British-born son of a Canadian father and British mother)

If you were born to a father who was a British citizen at the time, then you are a British citizen - regardless of what other citizenships you may hold.

If you were born in the UK to a British citizen parent, you don't even need to fill out any special paperwork to get official acknowledgment of this.

Just fill out the regular UK passport form that regular UK citizens fill out, because, you know, that's what you are!
posted by thparkth at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2008

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