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When Do I Need to Get a Second Passport?
Movies may make you think that owning various passports is some sign of illegal dealings.
Believe it or not, there are many reasons why you may need to have a second passport. And no, none of those reasons involve identity theft. That’s still illegal.
Having two passports has its advantages and disadvantages. It can help you gain more access to different countries, it could waive potential visa fees, and you will be able to stay in the country for a longer period of time.
A disadvantage to holding two passports is the risk of not having the proper paperwork with you.
Never forget one of your passports or you may not be identified as a national in the country that you’re traveling to. This could cause conflict with authorities and could take away some of your rights (depending on the country).
There are three main reasons for why you would have more than one passport:
If you are a citizen of more than one country at a time, you will need a passport for both countries.
Dual citizenship is legal in the United States, but it’s not legal in every country. So, you would have to check with your other country to make sure that you would need two passports.
But, if you can in fact be a dual citizen, you can also have two passports. Dual citizenship usually occurs due to a marriage to a foreign national or if a child has parents that are U.S. citizens, but the child is born in a foreign country.
Either way, the U.S. requires you to have a U.S. passport upon exit and entry into the country.
Another reason why you would need to have more than one passport is if you are a U.S. diplomat or are an active duty military personnel. These jobs require government-ordered business passports which are different than a passport used for leisure.
Government workers are only allowed to use their government-issued passport on work-related trips. They need to have a standard passport for all personal travel.
A new passport is required every 10 years (if you have a child who is under 15, they need their passport renewed every five years).
If you apply for a new passport, the U.S. Passport Agency will mail your old document back. Some people may want to keep this for sentimentality reasons. Although, even if it can’t be used to leave the country, the passport can be helpful for identification purposes.
Do you have any other questions about passports? Do you need to apply for one, or a second passport, before an upcoming trip? Passport Health can help! Give us a call at or check out any of our other passport and visa services.
Written for Passport Health by Kaitlyn Luckow. Kaitlyn is a freelance writer, photographer and English teacher in Milwaukee. She has a passion for capturing and writing other people’s stories. You can find her at her website.