Lucky enough to have dual citizenship? Tips for travelling with two passports

2020-01-23 10:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Obtaining that second passport has become a dream for many South Africans with itchy feet looking to travel without the drama of visas.

But what do you do if you actually happen to snag yourself a strong second passport?

It might sound like a bit of a juggling act, but as long as you keep a cool head, you'll pass through immigration without any hassles, much to the dismay of your fellow one-passport travellers. If you happen to be one of these unfortunate single passport holders, who might be applying for another citizen ship, either for immigration, spousal or ancestry for example, as a South African you are in the fortunate position that you do not need to forfeit you South African citizenship.

You can hold dual citizenship, with the Department of Home Affairs confirming dual citizenship is only possible on a reciprocity basis - in that each country's immigration policy must allow for it.  

SEE: Dual Citizenship: Here's what Saffas need to know

Always travel with both

Even if you think you'll only be using one passport, always have both in case of emergencies.

You may have to leave unexpectedly for a different country where your other passport has better visa options, and having two passports means you'll have access to two embassies if you get in trouble while overseas.


Always make sure what the visa situation is for both your passports, as this can affect which passport you use in different countries.

You can use this handy tool to compare the visa requirements for each of your passports to see which is best to travel with.

ALSO SEE: How to renew your passport

Booking and checking in

While it doesn't matter which of your passports you use to book your flight, many advise that the preference would be to book with the passport you will be using at your destination.

The airline just needs to know that you'll be able to enter the country you're flying to, but if you happen to book with your other passport just have both on you in case the check-in officer asks for it.

Immigration: Departure

For departures, always exit with the passport that proves that you're allowed to be where you are now.

For example, if you have an SA and UK passport, you'll always leave South Africa with your SA passport, and if you leave the UK coming back to SA, you leave with your UK passport.

SEE: UK visa remains expensive and time-consuming for Saffas, but SA's British High Commissioner has some advice for you

Immigration: Arrival

With arrivals you apply the same principle - you just need to prove that you're allowed to be standing in the country you're in. If you're coming back from the UK and you're arriving in SA, you use your SA passport to come back into the country. 

Basically by the end of your return trip between SA and UK you need two stamps in each passport.


Generally you only show your passport at the gate check-ins, where no one really cares which passport you use.

If you exit the international area, just make sure you use the same passport coming in and going out, although this doesn't really affect where you're going.

ALSO SEE: Passport Guidelines 101: Could smiling for your ID photo protect your identity?

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