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What is a Diplomatic Passport?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A diplomatic passport is a passport which is issued to someone who must travel internationally on official state business. Diplomatic passports are classically given to diplomats and consuls when they are posted overseas, and they may be issued to other people within the government as well, depending on the circumstances. Diplomatic passports are usually a different color from other types of passports, making them very easy to identify; black is a classic color for diplomatic passports. Carrying a diplomatic passport does not entitle someone to diplomatic immunity.

In order to receive a diplomatic passport, someone must indicate that he or she will be traveling overseas on state business, representing a national government in another nation. Many nations issue diplomatic passports and other special passport types through an agency which is separate from the regular issuance agency, and these passports also require special application forms along with forms which confirm that the bearer specifically needs a diplomatic passport, rather than a regular passport or another type of special passport.

If someone qualifies for a diplomatic passport, his or her immediate family qualifies as well. Once the passports have been issued, the bearers must apply for diplomatic visas, although some countries allow people to travel visa-free with diplomatic passports. Generally, visa information is provided when someone is given a new international posting or assignment, and it doesn't hurt to confirm visa information with a consulate or embassy.

This passport can only be used for someone who is on official business. If a diplomat wants to travel as a tourist, he or she will need a regular tourist passport. Some diplomats carry both, as for example when someone is posted to Saudi Arabia, but wants to visit Egypt as a tourist. In these instances, it is important to get both passports stamped when entering or exiting with a diplomatic passport, and to make sure that the stamps match up. In other words, someone cannot enter a country with one passport, and exit with another, as this will cause an incongruity in the visa records.

Some companies claim to be able to provide diplomatic passports, along with diplomatic immunity, for a fee. These business enterprises are fraudulent. People are only entitled to a diplomatic passport if they are an official state business, and they will be provided with information about how to get a diplomatic passport if they are given an international assignment. Furthermore, diplomatic passports are no-fee passports, and people should not have to pay for their diplomatic passports and visas.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon991362 — On Jun 15, 2015

Re: Post #6: An ordinary soldier is not going to possess a Diplomatic Passport, rest assured. However, someone like a Marine Security Guard, serving at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad will definitely be given a Diplomatic Passport because of his or her unique mission. They would need that special immunity due to their having a security mission at Post and in theory, can and will use weapons to protect property and personnel.

A run of the mill military member could need an "Official Passport" for travel, for example to travel overseas to meet their ship or travel to their component. They will have a set of military orders, a Military ID card, now referred to as a "CAC CARD" (Common Access Card) as well as a Maroon "Official Passport" endorsed to show that he or she is abroad in the service of the US Military."

All that being said, a soldier could be given a Diplomatic Passport if, for example, they were assigned to some special research facility overseas. But it would be likely that the soldier would be someone like a doctor rather than a lower level enlisted person. But there could certainly be exceptions, like someone assigned special security duties.

By anon991361 — On Jun 15, 2015

In response to post #2: Those serving in the Peace Corps are not abroad "in the diplomatic service of the Government" and so they are not diplomats in any sense legally. They are therefore not entitled to Diplomatic Passports. They do, however, receive a no-fee regular passport, which will be endorsed "No fee" and indicate that the bearer is abroad as a member of the Peace Corps. The passports are blue in color and are the same as regular tourist passports, except there is no cost to the applicant and they contain the special endorsement on the back page.

In many countries, the applicant is given a "Gratis" (no cost) visa by the host country to show that the person is lawfully in the country serving the Peace Corps. It would be highly unlikely that the visas they are given are diplomatic, since the Peace Corps volunteers are not abroad on "Diplomatic Business For the United States Government." They would not be on the diplomatic list of the host country, nor would they enjoy diplomatic immunity.

By anon281881 — On Jul 25, 2012

How do you contact one of these companies that get you diplomatic passports?

By anon261863 — On Apr 17, 2012

@CopperPipe: As the article says, "Once the passports have been issued, the bearers must apply for diplomatic visas, although some countries allow people to travel visa-free with diplomatic passports". Meaning, if you're in the Foreign Service and you're posted to India, you need to get an Indian visa in your diplomatic passport. However, since you're traveling on behalf of the government as part of your job, you don't need to pay for it. Diplomatic passports aren't 'free tickets' around the world. You can only use them to travel if you're traveling on diplomatic business. Even if you're a diplomat by trade and you're traveling somewhere for pleasure (e.g. to Egypt from Saudi Arabia), you wouldn't use your diplomatic passport for the pleasure-end of your travel.

By anon257639 — On Mar 28, 2012

I need a diplomatic passport but I am not a state official. How best do you think I can acquire one?

By anon154074 — On Feb 19, 2011

I have a friend who is an american soldier who is serving in afghanistan and he is coming to Australia to see me. He told me he has a diplomatic passport. Would that be correct?

By anon150135 — On Feb 07, 2011

Peace Corps members do not normally receive diplomatic passports unless the individual happens to be the country director or regional director which places them on the embassy staff. Volunteers usually have the maroon 'official' passport.

They may enjoy similar privileges as a diplomat if the host nation grants them a particular status as an employee of the quasi NGO.

The USG does not issue diplomatic passports to non-USG employees except as directed by the President or Secretary of State which is rare, e.g. a special envoy, or ex-president conducting business on behalf of the United States.

By Charlie89 — On Aug 14, 2010

@anon45753 -- I think what the article is describing is a company who promises to give you a diplomatic passport without any kind of diplomatic position.

For instance, I know some companies promise to get you cheap visas for your trips, or a diplomatic visa even when you aren't doing any state business. These types of companies usually are fraudulent.

It's just a common sense thing -- if you're not doing diplomatic travel or have a diplomatic position, then you probably don't have a legal right to have a diplomatic passport, and someone who says you do is either confused or out to take your money.

By CopperPipe — On Aug 14, 2010

So if you have a diplomatic passport then you don't need to apply for any tourist visas? Is that how it works? Because that would be so, so convenient.

By TunaLine — On Aug 14, 2010

I'm pretty sure that you get a diplomatic visa when you go into the Peace Corps too.

I have a friend who's going to Morocco for the Peace Corps in a few months, and she said she's getting a special passport -- I know she doesn't have diplomatic status, but I would think that working in the Peace Corps would count as diplomatic travel.

I do know she has to give it back when she finishes her trip, which I think is a total bummer -- that would be such a cool souvenir!

By anon45753 — On Sep 19, 2009

There are companies who negotiate directly with governments on behalf of another person to get that person a diplomatic position, with which comes a passport. I would hardly describe that as fraudulent.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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