German passport

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German passport
Biometrie reisepass deutsch.jpg
The front cover of a contemporary German biometric passport
Date first issued November 11, 2005 (biometric passport)
November 11, 2007 (current version)
Issued by  Germany
Type of document Passport
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements German citizenship
Expiration 10 years after issuance for individuals aged 24 and above; 6 years for citizens under 23
Cost €59 (over 24) / €37,50 (under 24)[1]

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 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. Every German citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. The passport, along with the national identity card allows for free rights of movement and residence in any of the states of the European Union and European Economic Area.

Physical appearance[edit]

German passports have, since 1 January 1988, followed 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, with 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[edit]

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 (10 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.

Following page[edit]

The following page lists:

Interior of a contemporary German passport (with passport number at the bottom of each page removed)


The data page/information page is printed in German, English, and French.

RFID chip with biometric certificate[edit]

Since 1 November 2005, German passports have had a contactless smartcard (proximity card) chip and 13.56 MHz loop antenna embedded into the front cover page,[2] 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 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.[3] 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[edit]

  • 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.[citation needed]
Some German names are always spelled with "transcription" such as the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or the Nazi politician Paul Joseph Goebbels; however, in the name of the former German football player Ulrich Hoeneß,[4] 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.

Issuing process[edit]

The front cover of a West German passport issued in 1982
The front cover of a German passport issued in 1998 (European Community passport)

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 in Berlin.

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 €.[5] 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 €.

1927 German Ministerialpass issued to Dr.Fritz Norden
1943 Diplomatenpass issued to Dr. Karl Schwagula, legal expert to the Foreign Ministry.

Child's Passport[edit]

A type of passport issued by Germany since 2006 is a child passport (in German: Kinderreisepass). Unlike a regular German passport, the Kinderreisepass does not include biometric features and lacks the inscription "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 printed at the center of the front cover. Children's passports are issued for children up to twelve years of age and are valid for a period of six years. When a child reaches the age of twelve, a regular passport must be obtained for international travel.

A child 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 passport serves just like any other passport, with the exception that it is not biometric (or e-Passport). As a result, if the child passport is issued after 25 October 2006, travelling to the USA, for example, requires a tourist visa in spite of Germany’s participation in the United States Visa Waiver Program. 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's passports are issued without being sent to the Bundesdruckerei GmbH in Berlin, which is the main reason behind these advantages.

Airports with Easy-Pass system[edit]

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[edit]

Visa requirements for German citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Germany. In 2014, German citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 174 countries and territories, ranking the German passport 1st in the world.[6]

Holding a second passport[edit]

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, and Syria; Azerbaijan does not allow entry with a Nagorno-Karabakh visa in the passport). 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 current nationality law, except in specific instances (such as having dual nationality at birth). For details, see German nationality law#Dual citizenship.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Passports of Germany at Wikimedia Commons