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The front cover of a contemporary German biometric passport
|Date first issued||November 11, 2005 (biometric passport)
November 11, 2007 (current version)
|Type of document||Passport|
|Eligibility requirements||German citizenship|
|Expiration||10 years after issuance for individuals aged 24 and above; 6 years for citizens under 23|
German passports are issued to nationals of Germany for the purpose of international travel. A German passport is, besides the German ID card and the German Emergency Travel Document (called "Reiseausweis als Passersatz"), the only other officially recognized document that German (and most other EU) authorities will routinely accept as proof of identity from German citizens. Besides serving as proof of identity and presumption of German nationality, they facilitate the process of securing assistance from German consular officials abroad (or other EU-members in the case that a German consular facility is absent). German passports are valid for ten years (for people older than 24) or six years (for people until the age of 24) and share the standardised layout and burgundy red design with other EU passports, albeit with a hard cover that is unique to Germany.
- 1 Physical appearance
- 2 Issuing process
- 3 Child's Passport
- 4 Airports with Easy-Pass system
- 5 The travel freedom of German citizens
- 6 Holding a second passport
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
German passports have followed since 1 January 1988 the standard European Union passport design, with burgundy red cover and the German Eagle emblazoned in the centre of the front cover. The word "Reisepass" (German for passport) is inscribed below the coat of arms, while "Europäische Union" (German for European Union) and "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" (German for Federal Republic of Germany) appear above.
German passports are normally 32 pages long; a 48-page version for frequent travellers can be issued on request.
Identity Information Page
The first two pages of a German passport are security laminated and the second page includes the following data:
- Photo of passport holder
- Type of document (P = passport)
- Code for issuing country (D = Germany)
- Passport number (9 alphanumeric digits, chosen from numerals 0-9 and letters C, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, T, V, W, X, Y, Z. Thus, "0" denotes the numeral, not the letter "O".)
- Surname (1)
- Given names (2)
- Nationality (3)
- Date of birth (4)
- Sex (5)
- Place of birth (6)
- Date of issue (7)
- Date of expiry (8)
- Authority that issued the passport (9)
- Holder's signature (10)
The page ends with a 2-line machine readable zone, according to ICAO standard 9303. The country code is not DEU as is the standard country code for Germany (according to ISO 3166-1 alpha-3), but D. This is the only country/citizen code which does not consist of 3 letters.
In November 2001, the so-called Identigram feature was added - a number of holographic security elements, including a three-dimensional eagle, a holographic copy of the holder's picture (the so-called Holographic Shadow Picture), a holographic copy of the machine-readable zone, holographic microprinting and kinematic elements.
The following page lists:
RFID chip with biometric certificate
Since 1 November 2005, German passports had a contactless smartcard (proximity card) chip and 13.56 MHz loop antenna embedded into the front cover page, in accordance with ICAO standards. The chip and antenna are not easily visually recognizable, but their presence is indicated using the ICAO biometric passport symbol at the bottom of the front cover. It carries all the data printed in the passport, including a JPEG file of the photo, protected by a digital signature.
On 1 November 2007, several changes were made to the passport:
- Applicants also have to provide – in addition to the traditional passport data – scans of two fingerprints, which are added to the chip.
- The previously 9-digit, all-numeric, sequentially assigned serial number was replaced with a new alphanumeric pseudorandomly assigned higher-entropy serial number, to increase the entropy of the serial number from the previous 35 digits to 45 bits. This improves the cryptographic key strength of the Basic Access Control mechanism of the RFID chip by 10 bits, which makes a brute force attack approximately 1000 times more expensive.
- The validity period of passports issued to holders under the age of 24 increases from five to six years; older applicants receive a passport valid for ten years.
Different spellings of the same name within the same document
- German names: German names containing umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and/or ß are spelled in the correct way in the non-machine-readable zone of the passport, but with simple vowel + E and/or SS in the machine-readable zone, e.g. Müller becomes MUELLER, Groß becomes GROSS, and Gößmann becomes GOESSMANN.
- The transcription mentioned above is generally used for airplane tickets etc., but sometimes (like in US visas) also simple vowels are used (MULLER, GOSSMANN). The three possible spelling variants of the same name (e.g. Müller / Mueller / Muller) in different documents sometimes lead to confusion, and the use of two different spellings within the same document (like in the German passport) may give people who are unfamiliar with the German orthography the impression that the document is a forgery.
- Some German names are always spelled with "transcription" such as the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or the Third-Reich politician Paul Joseph Goebbels; however, in the name of the German football player Ulrich Hoeneß, the umlaut is transcribed, but the letter ß is not (the spelling in the machine-readable passport zone is HOENESS, the ß being transcribed here).
- Non-German names: In some names of naturalized citizens, some special letters that are not available may always be replaced by simple letters, also in the non-machine-readable zone. The "Bundesdruckerei AG," which prints the German passports, uses the font LA8 Passport, which includes a Latin subset of the Unicode characters (ISO 10646), so that letters such as ł and ç can be displayed at least in the non-machine-readable passport zone. When in doubt, consult the "Bundesdruckerei AG". Names originally written in a non-Latin writing system may pose another problem if there are no internationally recognized transcription standards. For example, the Russian name Горбачёв is transcribed "Gorbachev" in English, "Gorbatschow" in German,"Gorbatchov" in French, "Gorbachov" in Spanish, and so on.
German passports are issued, just like German ID cards, by local municipal registration offices. Applicants have to apply for a new passport in person and the data in newly issued passports is essentially an authenticated copy of the personal data found in locally stored registration documents. Passports are then manufactured centrally at Bundesdruckerei.
If the necessity can be proven, more than one passport can be issued with overlapping validity (e.g. when travelling to Arab countries with an Israeli stamp in the passport, or when needed for professional reasons). In theory, a person can concurrently hold up to ten passports. The additional passports have six instead of ten years validity.
A German passport (32 pages, delivered within a month, issued to a person 24 years and older) costs 59 €. A passport for a person under the age of 24 which has a validity of six years costs 37.50 €. A 48 pages passport costs a premium of 22 €, express delivery a premium of 32 €.
A unique type of passport issued by Germany since 2006 is a Child’s Passport (in German: Kinderreisepass). Unlike a regular German passport, the Kinderreisepass does not include biometric features and lacks the insignia of the European Union at the top of the front cover. The exclusion of biometric information is due to the ongoing development of infants and young children and the low security risk they pose; nevertheless, the photo used in the passport does have to comply with biometric standards. All other features are similar to those of a regular passport: the burgundy red color and the German coat of arms engraved at the center of the front cover. Kinderreisepässe are issued for children up to twelve years of age and are valid for a six years period. When a child reaches the age of twelve, a regular passport must be obtained for international travel.
A Child’s passport has sixteen pages (unlike the regular’s 32), of which eleven are designated for stamping and the others are used for a title page, instructions and personal information. The first page features the words “Child's Passport” in three languages: German, English and French.
Unlike a regular passport, the information pages in a Kinderreisepass are not security laminated (yet do have other security features) and have a different format. The information included is more or less the same, with the following differences: The type of passport is PC (Passport for children) instead of P (Passport). As in other passports, the main information page ends with a 2-line machine-readable code, according to ICAO standard 9303.
A Child’s passport serves just like any other passport, with the exception that it is not biometric (or e-Passport). As a result, travelling to the USA, for example, requires a tourist visa in spite of Germany’s participation in the United States Visa Waiver Program, if the Kinderreisepass is issued after 25 October 2006. Alternatively, infants and children of any age are allowed to obtain a regular German passport (biometric) instead of a Child’s passport, which nevertheless has the advantages of low cost, short processing times and being issuable by honorary consuls (making them easier to obtain by German emigrants who live far away from a German embassy or consulate). Just like Provisional passports, Children passports are issued without being sent to the Bundesdruckerei GmbH, which is the main reason behind these advantages.
Airports with Easy-Pass system
The following airports provide a quick check-in for RFID passports in 2013: Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Düsseldorf (DUS), Hamburg (HAM) and Berlin-Brandenburg (BER, not ready yet - 3 letter code not yet assigned) The body size and a live picture will be compared with the RFID informations and the JPEG file of the photo.
The travel freedom of German citizens
According to the "Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2013," holders of a German passport can visit 172 countries visa-free or with visa on arrival (as of July 2013). In the Index, Germany was ranked 2nd in terms of travel freedom (together with Denmark, Luxembourg, and the United States of America), but since September 01, 2013, Germans have been allowed to travel to Mongolia visa-free for 30 days, which increases the number of countries to 173, so that the German passport would now share the 1st rank together with the Finnish, Swedish and the British Citizen passports. India is currently considering visa on arrival for Germans. See Visa requirements for German citizens.
Holding a second passport
Germany allows its citizens to hold several German passports (two or three, in extreme cases up to ten) to circumvent certain travel restrictions (e.g. some Arab countries do not allow entry with Israeli passport stamps, e.g. Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria). However, these additional passports are valid only for a maximum of six years, even if the "main passport" is valid for ten years.
Simultaneous holding a German and a foreign passport that is not the one of another EU country or of Switzerland (that is German—non-EU/non-Swiss dual citizenship) is restricted under the current nationality law. For details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nationality_law#Dual_citizenship.
- German Passports in PRADO (The Council of the European Union Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online)
- Security features of the German passport (German)
Media related to Passports of Germany at Wikimedia Commons