Irish citizen entering Ireland on US Passport, or should I use my Irish passport?
September 14, 2011 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Which passport do I use entering Ireland; US or Irish? I'm a recently naturalized US Citizen, who was born and reared in Ireland. I plan to travel to Ireland and am unsure which passport to show when I enter Ireland; my brand spanking new US passport or my Irish passport?

I'm worried that if I enter Ireland on my Irish passport that when I return the to the US that the US authorities will question me as to why I don't have a stamp from the Irish authorities. Will the Irish authorities care if I show my US passport? And will either country's authorities try to confiscate the other country's passport?

I am aware that when I re-enter the US that I must show my US passport.

Anyone been in the same situation?

Thanks! :)
posted by zaphod to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Irish law governs what passport you use. The US doesn't care according to the US State Department:

Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. Most U.S. citizens, 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 does not endanger U.S. citizenship. ...
posted by zippy at 9:45 PM on September 14, 2011

The general rule is that you enter on the passport of the country you are entering, if you have one. I always enter UK on my UK passport and Australia on my Oz one. This has practical benefits--might be no form to fill in, and the line may well be shorter. In some countries at least, if you are a citizen you must enter on their passport (or so I understand).
posted by Logophiliac at 9:46 PM on September 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ditto Zippy. Enter and leave the U.S. on the U.S. passport, enter and leave Ireland on the Irish one. As a bonus, you get to use the shorter E.U. line.
posted by Diablevert at 9:47 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are lots of previouslies about this, discussing the different permutations. Basic rule: "always present the passport which shows the requester what it wants to see."

So: Irish passport when entering Ireland, US passport when entering the US, but...

enter and leave Ireland on the Irish one

is now a tiny bit more complicated for the "leave" bit. Leaving the US, it's much of a muchness. But if you're flying back direct to the US from Dublin or Shannon, US Customs and Border Patrol now has branches in Ireland's international airports, so there's a very good chance that you'll actually pre-clear customs and immigration (showing your shiny new US passport, of course) before you get on board the plane. Aer Lingus has a page explaining the situation; if you're flying with another carrier, check to see if pre-clearance applies for the flight you're on.

If you're not able to pre-clear, then you should use your US passport at check-in, as presenting your Irish passport would lead to questions about whether you'd registered with ESTA. If, in addition, there's an Irish passport agent doing exit control, show that agent your Irish passport.

Neither passport will be confiscated, nor should it raise questions: the very fact that CBP now operates Ireland is a reflection that both countries know how many travellers carry both passports, and they're familiar with the shuffle.
posted by holgate at 11:05 PM on September 14, 2011

Oops: "operates in Ireland", though I'll toast Dr Freud for the original.
posted by holgate at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

As a bonus, you get to use the shorter E.U. line.

for this reason and this reason alone, I would show the Irish passport. I have unpleasant memories of Heathrow, a Canadian passport and a great deal of time standing in a very long line grumbling about Britain turning her back on her colonies.
posted by spindle at 7:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

And I now realise (in relation to this previously) that it's actually illegal for US citizens to exit the US on a foreign passport -- even though there's not really a formal exit control, just the passport stuff at check-in -- and that you'd want to show your US passport to the airline on the outbound flight anyway, as showing your Irish passport would raise ESTA/visa questions.
posted by holgate at 11:32 AM on September 15, 2011

Despite the legality of using your Irish passport, in my experience (using a British/US passport combo when traveling to England), not having all the relevant stamps for a single trip in my US passport leads to awkward questioning at best, angry berating at middle, and 2 hours of delay at worst.

So I use my US passport for the first point of entry and last point of exit in the EU and then make a decision on the fly when traveling between EU countries or from an EU country to another country (because hey, if your fellow travelers are mostly EU folks, then that line can actually be *longer* than the "all other passports" line).
posted by obliquicity at 1:08 PM on September 15, 2011

I'm Icelandic/American, and have always used my Icelandic passport in the EU and American for entering/exiting the States. It's like express customs, never even had an eye batted at me for speaking like an American while being Icelandic in Europe.
posted by hypersloth at 1:34 PM on September 15, 2011

Thanks for the comments.

I do know that I need to show my US passport when I leave and reenter the US. As a newly naturalized US citizen I'm worried that INS will give me grief when I return to the US for using my Irish passport to enter Ireland and not getting a stamp in my US passport (as @obliquicity said). In these days of "heighten" security, they may suspect that people with 2 passports are trying to hide the countries they visit from the US authorities.

I was hoping that there would be some other Irish people who have been naturalized who've experienced this (as opposed to native born American's who've gotten Irish passports). I'd read through the previous questions and none were specific to Ireland, and most seem to apply to Americans who've obtained a passport from a 2nd country and not naturalized Americans).

@holgate: Every time I've flown out of Ireland I've pre-cleared INS. If I show an Irish passport to the Aer Lingus agent without proof of residency or a visa to enter the US they won't issue a boarding pass. Showing 2 passports may cause confusion, and in this area of "heightened security" bring attention to oneself can mean missed flights or delays. :(

@everyone: Yup the Irish Nationals and EU line is always faster than the non-Nationals line! Most times when I've entered Ireland they've barely glanced at my Irish passport.

U know I may just decide when I get there and see how long the line is! :)

If anyone is wondering why I'm keeping both passports (at least for now) is that I still have a lot of family in Ireland; having the Irish passport will mean that if I have to return for an extended period (due to ill-health of someone at home) it will be easier than using my US passport.
posted by zaphod at 2:03 PM on September 15, 2011

In these days of "heighten" security, they may suspect that people with 2 passports are trying to hide the countries they visit from the US authorities.

That's an issue if you want to get a government job with a security clearance. But there are a lot of people with two passports in the US. The Irish government issues thousands a year to the US-born, US-raised grandchildren of Irish immigrants. The Israeli government issues thousands a year to Americans under the Law of Return, and they'll return from Israel without stamps in their US passports.

Neither 'heightened security' nor the risk of encountering a pissy CBP agent should mean that you have to sacrifice your right to enter a country of which you are a citizen as a citizen. The notion that you have to choose one and one only belongs to a world where people emigrated on a boat and never went back.

I asked a friend today who's been naturalized for about five years what she does: she enters Ireland on her Irish passport, and the US on her US passport, but she only gets a "welcome home" from the American side.
posted by holgate at 3:55 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cheers holgate!
posted by zaphod at 4:38 PM on September 15, 2011

As a bonus, you get to use the shorter E.U. line.

Not in Dublin Airport. You have two choices: the EU line or non-EU line. Every time I've been there, there's been a massive 50-deep EU line, compared to the two people in the non-EU line.
posted by Xere at 12:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not in Dublin Airport. You have two choices: the EU line or non-EU line. Every time I've been there, there's been a massive 50-deep EU line, compared to the two people in the non-EU line.

Depends where you're coming from, I suspect. Direct from JFK or Logan, for about 10 months out of the year --- trust me, the EU line is shorter.
posted by Diablevert at 12:34 PM on September 20, 2011

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