In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne is rescued from the Mediterranean Sea by Italian fishermen who tend to his bullet wounds and deposit him safely upon European soil. Upon arriving in Zürich with nothing but amnesia and the clothes on his back, Bourne discovers a bank lockbox filled with international passports and cash that seem to indicate he’s a high-level spy.

Those half dozen passports come in handy as he crisscrosses the globe evading the villains and pursuing the truth. And aside from the bad-guys-chasing-us-with-guns part of the story, how many of us have dreamed of taking our travels to the next level with a handful of passports from around the globe?

While obtaining multiple passports through dual citizenship is an option for some, establishing a second homeland is often an expensive process that takes years to complete. But two passports from the same country? That can be a more readily attainable goal. A host of countries will issue a second, concurrently valid passport to their citizens who can prove the need for more than one. 

An African-American woman with long braids and a blue blazer looks up hopefully at a departures board in an airport. She is holding a passport and her tickets in her left hand
Business travelers sometimes need two concurrent passports to ease visa wait times © FatCamera / Getty Images

Who needs more than one passport?

If you frequently travel internationally, a second passport could help when you’re obtaining visas, since you need to submit a valid passport with the visa application. Having a second passport means you can continue to travel while your original is waiting at the embassy.

Two passports may also help if your travel plans include politically sensitive countries. After Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, Serbia banned travelers with Kosovan stamps from entering. If you’re from a country that requires a visa to enter the United States, you’ll have to apply for it before you step foot on American soil if your passport has a stamp from Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen

And while Israeli immigration officers now issue slips of paper rather than passport stamps, an older Israeli stamp or visa in your passport could complicate your entering Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.

And, with an increasingly complex political climate evolving around the world, a second passport could become beneficial with the Spratly Islands dispute, the China-Taiwan debate, or any number of African border issues.

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A woman with short light brown hair hold up two maroon passports with gold lettering, one for Espana and one from the Palestinian Authority. She is wearing a white and black scarf and is standing by the sea in Gaza
In addition to concurrent passports issued by one country, some travelers with dual citizenship opt for passports from each for ease of travel © Mohammed Abed / Getty Images

How to acquire a second passport

So how do you get a handy second passport? For most countries, it requires submitting an application along with a letter specifying the reason for the need along with proof of travel plans, such as a booked flight itinerary. It can also help to have supporting documentation from your employer if the travel is work-related. 

With sufficient proofs, the countries that will grant a second passport include Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States. 

While Italy and Switzerland will issue second passports to citizens with valid circumstances, they will officially only allow travel with a single passport at any given time. In the meantime, your second passport must be surrendered to the issuing agency for safekeeping. Malaysia will issue a second passport only for business travel, not for personal leisure travel, and the bureaucratic red tape can be daunting. 

Canada and Australia’s passport rules state that a second, short-term passport can be issued, but these are generally only to citizens who are doing business in both Israel and Arab countries where Israeli stamps or visas could be an issue (despite the previously mentioned fact that Israel no longer stamps passports). And even under those circumstances, citizens who have reported obtaining a second passport are few and far between.

Some countries will issue a second passport but only for diplomatic purposes. Jamaica allows two passports under these circumstances, as does India. In India, the diplomatic passport is typically issued for a particular work assignment, and the individual’s personal passport has to be surrendered to the government until the assignment is concluded. But the rules are vague, and many travelers report that senior officials are often allowed to keep their personal passports along with the diplomatic one.

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The United Kingdom will allow its citizens to have up to three concurrently valid passports, and there appears to be no restrictions on the number of passports citizens of Georgia can have at one time.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some countries that specifically forbid their residents to have multiple concurrent passports under any circumstances, including the Philippines and Trinidad & Tobago.

If two passports don’t satisfy your travel desires and you’re still dead set on acquiring dual citizenship, then be sure that your second homeland has a high passport mobility score. Start your research with the annual Henley & Partners Passport Index and the International Citizenship Index, which ranks the benefits of being a citizen in each country around the world, including the power of its passport.

However, if your goal is simply to be a perpetual traveler, then two passports from your current country of citizenship can help you explore the planet. 

Too bad they don’t come with Bourne’s lockbox of cash.

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