Passports of the European Union
The European Union itself does not issue ordinary passports, but ordinary passport booklets issued by its 28 member states share a common format. This common format features burgundy-coloured covers (with the exception of Croatia) emblazoned—in the official language(s) of the issuing country (and sometimes its translation into English and French)—with the title "European Union", followed by the name(s) of the member state, its coat of arms, the word "PASSPORT", together with the biometric passport symbol at the bottom centre of the front cover.
Some EU member states also issue non-EU passports to certain people who have a nationality which does not render them citizens of the European Union (e.g., British Overseas Territories Citizens except those with a connection to Gibraltar, British Protected Persons and British Subjects).
- 1 Use
- 2 Common design features
- 3 Overview of passports issued by 28 Member States
- 4 Passport rankings
- 5 Multiple simultaneous passports
- 6 Emergency passports
- 7 Right to consular protection in non-EU countries
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
With a valid passport, EU citizens are entitled to exercise the right of free movement (meaning they do not need a visa) in the European Economic Area (European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland.
When going through border controls to enter an EEA country, EU citizens possessing valid biometric passports are sometimes able to use automated gates instead of immigration counters. For example, when entering the United Kingdom, at major airports, adult holders of EU biometric passports can use ePassport gates, whilst all other EU citizens (such as those using a national identity card or a non-biometric passport) and non-EEA citizens must use an immigration counter. Anyone travelling with children must also use an immigration counter.
As an alternative to holding a passport, EU citizens can also use a valid national identity card to exercise their right of free movement within the EEA and Switzerland. Strictly speaking, it is not necessary for an EU citizen to possess a valid passport or national identity card to enter the EEA or Switzerland. In theory, if an EU citizen outside of both the EEA and Switzerland can prove their nationality by any other means (e.g. by presenting an expired passport or national identity card, or a citizenship certificate), they must be permitted to enter the EEA or Switzerland. An EU citizen who is unable to demonstrate their nationality satisfactorily must nonetheless be given 'every reasonable opportunity' to obtain the necessary documents or to have them delivered within a reasonable period of time.
Common design features
While considerable progress has been made in harmonising some features, the data page can be at the front or at the back of an EU passport booklet and there are still significant design differences throughout to indicate which member state is the issuer.[note 1]
Only British and Irish passports are not obliged by EU law to contain fingerprint information in their chip. With the exception of passports issued by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, all EU citizens applying for a new ordinary passport or passport renewal by 28 August 2006 (for facial images) and 28 June 28 2009 (for fingerprints) should have been biometrically enrolled. This is a consequence of Regulation (EC) 2252/2004 in combination with two follow-up decisions by the European Commission.
Non-standard types of passports, such as passport cards (Ireland is still the only EU country to issue a passport in card format), diplomatic, service and emergency passports have not yet been harmonised but, since the 1980s, European Union member states have started to harmonise the following aspects of the designs of their ordinary passport booklets:
- Paper size B7 (ISO/IEC 7810 ID-3, 88 mm × 125 mm)
- 32 pages (passports with more pages can be issued to frequent travellers)
- Colour of cover: burgundy red (with the exception of Croatia)
Information on the cover, in this order, in the language(s) of the issuing state:
- The words "EUROPEAN UNION" (before 1997: "EUROPEAN COMMUNITY")
- Name of the issuing state (similar typeface as "EUROPEAN UNION")
- Emblem of the state
- The word "PASSPORT"
- The Biometric Passport symbol
Information on the first page, in one or more of the languages of the European Union:
- The words "EUROPEAN UNION"
- Name of the issuing state (similar typeface to that of "European Union")
- The word "PASSPORT"
- Serial number (may also be repeated on the other pages)
Information on the (possibly laminated) identification page, in the languages of the issuing state plus English and French, accompanied by numbers that refer to an index that lists the meaning of these fields in all official EU languages:
1. Surname 2. Forename(s) 3. Nationality 4. Date of birth 5. Sex 6. Place of birth 7. Date of issue 8. Date of expiry 9. Authority 10. Signature of holder
On the top of the identification page there is the code "P" for passport, the code (ISO 3166-1 alpha-3) for the issuing country, and the passport number. On the left side there is the photo. On other places there might optionally be a national identification number, the height and security features.
Like all biometric passports, the newer EU passports contain a Machine-readable zone, which contains the name, nationality and most other information from the identification page. It is designed in a way so that computers can fairly easily read the information, although it still human readable, since it contains only letters (A–Z), digits and "<" as space character, but no bar graph or similar.
Personal name spelling differences
Names containing non-English letters are usually spelled in the correct way in the non-machine-readable zone of the passport, but are mapped according to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the machine-readable zone. For example, the German umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and the letter ß are mapped as AE / OE / UE and SS, so Müller becomes MUELLER, Groß becomes GROSS, and Gößmann becomes GOESSMANN.
The ICAO mapping is mostly used for computer-generated and internationally used documents such as air tickets, but sometimes (like in US visas) also simple letters are used (MULLER, GOSSMANN). German credit cards use in their non-machine-readable zone either the correct or the mapped spelling.
Some German names are always spelled with "old" spelling, 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 spelled "old", but the letter ß is not (the spelling in the machine-readable passport zone is HOENESS, the ß being mapped here).
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 passports of German-speaking countries) may give people who are unfamiliar with the foreign orthography the impression that the document is a forgery.
The Austrian passport can (but does not always) contain a note in German, English, and French that AE / OE/ UE / SS are the common mappings of Ä / Ö / Ü / ß.
Names originally written in a non-Latin writing system may pose another problem if there are various internationally recognized transcription standards. For example, the Russian surname Горбачёв is transcribed
- "Gorbachev" in English,
- "Gorbatschow" in German,
- "Gorbatchov" in French,
- "Gorbachov" in Spanish,
- "Gorbaczow" in Polish, and so on.
The machine-readable zone contains the name transliterated in a standardized (English-based) way, defined by the standard for machine readable travel documents (ICAO 9303). Горбачёв would be written GORBACHEV.
Letters with accents are often replaced by simple letters (ç → C, ê → E, etc.), but for some letters mappings are common:
å → AA
ä, æ → AE
ij (capital letter: IJ )→ IJ
ö, ø, œ → OE
ü → UE (German) or UXX (Spanish)
ñ → N or sometimes NXX
ß → SS
The Icelandic letters ð and þ (non-EU, but EFTA passport) are mapped as DH (sometimes D) and TH, respectively.
It is recommended to use the spelling used in the machine-readable passport zone for visas, airline tickets, etc., and to refer to that zone if being questioned. The same thing applies if the name is too long to fit in the airline's ticket system, otherwise problems can arise. (The machine-readable has room for 39 letters for the name while the visual zone can contain as many as will fit)
Optional information on the following page:
11. Residence 12. Height 13. Colour of eyes 14. Extension of the passport 15. Name at birth (if now using married name or have legally changed names)
- The following page is reserved for:
- Details concerning the spouse of the holder of the passport (where a family passport is issued)
- Details concerning children accompanying the holder (name, first name, date of birth, sex)
- Photographs of the faces of spouse and children
- The following page is reserved for use by the issuing authorities
- The following page carries the index that translates the field numbers into the official languages of the EU
- The remaining pages are reserved for visas and entry and exit stamps
- The inside back cover is reserved for additional information or recommendations by the issuing state in its own official language(s)
Overview of passports issued by 28 Member States
|Member state||Passport cover||Biodata page||Cost||Validity||Issuing authority||Latest version|
||16 June 2006|
||1 February 2008|
Ministry of Interior Affairs
|29 March 2010|
||3 August 2015|
||13 December 2010|
||1 September 2006|
||1 January 2012|
||1 June 2014|
||21 August 2012|
||21 August 2012|
||12 April 2006|
||Municipal registration office||1 March 2017|
||National Passport Centre ("Διεύθυνση Διαβατηρίων/Αρχηγείο Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας")||28 August 2006|
Registration Office (Nyilvántartó Hivatal)
|1 March 2012|
||Consular and Passport Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs||3 October 2013|
||Minister of Foreign Affairs through||20 May 2010|
||29 January 2015|
||27 January 2011|
||Passport Office, Luxembourg||1 July 2011|
||Passport & Civil Registration Directorate||29 September 2008|
||9 March 2014|
Application made within Poland:
Application made through a Polish consulate:
In both cases:
||1 January 2006|
|Portugal||Application made within Portugal:
||25 May 2009|
||Ministry of Administration and Interior (General Directorate for Passports)||26 April 2006|
||15 January 2008|
||28 August 2006|
||2 January 2015|
||2 January 2012|
Passport rankings by the number of countries and territories their holders could visit without a visa or by obtaining visa on arrival in 2016 were as follows (sourced from Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2016):
For details, click on the name of the country:
- Austria: 173, Belgium: 174, Bulgaria: 153, Croatia: 149, Cyprus: 159
- Czech Republic: 167, Denmark: 174, Estonia: 162, Finland: 175, France: 175
- Germany: 177, Greece: 171, Hungary: 167, Ireland: 172, Italy: 175
- Latvia: 163, Lithuania: 162, Luxembourg: 172, Malta: 168, Netherlands: 174
- Poland: 161, Portugal: 172, Romania: 153, Slovakia: 165, Slovenia: 164
- Spain: 175, Sweden: 176, United Kingdom (British Citizen Passport): 175
Multiple simultaneous passports
Some EU countries, such as Germany, Ireland, Malta and the UK, allow their citizens to have several passports at once to circumvent certain travel restrictions. This can be useful if wanting to travel while a passport remains at a consulate while a visa application is processed, or wanting to apply for further visas while already in a foreign country. It can also be needed to circumvent the fact that visitors whose passports show evidence of a visit to Israel are not allowed to enter Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Syria and Yemen (It is, however, possible to get the Israeli entry and exit stamp on a separate piece of paper).
Each EU and EFTA country can make its own citizenship laws, so some countries allow dual or multiple citizenship without any restrictions (e.g. France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom), some regulate/restrict it (e.g. Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain), and others allow it only in exceptional cases (e.g. Lithuania) or only for citizens by descent (e.g. Croatia, Estonia).
A citizen of an EEA or EFTA country can live and work in all other EU or EFTA countries (but not necessarily vote or work in sensitive fields, such as government, police, military where citizenship is often required). Non-citizens may not have the same rights to welfare and unemployment benefits like citizens.
Decision 96/409/CSFP of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 25 June 1996 on the establishment of an emergency travel document, decided that there would be a standard emergency travel document (ETD).
ETDs are issued to European Union citizens for a single journey back to the EU country of which they are a national, to their country of permanent residence or, in exceptional cases, to another destination (inside or outside the Union). The decision does not apply to expired national passports; it is specifically confined to cases where travel documents have been lost, stolen or destroyed or are temporarily unavailable.
Embassies and consulates of EU countries different to the applicant may issue emergency travel documents if
- the applicant is an EU national whose passport or travel document has been lost, stolen or destroyed or is temporarily unavailable;
- the applicant is in a country in which the EU country of which s/he is a national has no accessible diplomatic or consular representation able to issue a travel document or in which the EU country in question is not otherwise represented;
- clearance from the authorities of the applicant’s country of origin has been obtained.
Right to consular protection in non-EU countries
As a consequence of citizenship of the European Union, when in a non-EU country EU citizens whose country maintains no diplomatic mission there, have the right to consular protection and assistance from a diplomatic mission of any other EU country present in the non-EU country.
- Visa requirements for European Union citizens
- Citizenship of the European Union
- Passports of the European Economic Area
- National identity cards in the European Economic Area
- Visa policy in the European Union
- Schengen Area
- Public Register of Travel and Identity Documents Online
- False and Authentic Documents Online (FADO)
- Estonian alien's passport
- Non-citizens (Latvia)
- All the EU issuing nations make an effort to ensure that their passports feature nationally distinctive designs. Finnish passports make a flip-book of a moose walking. The new UK passport launched on 3 November 2015 features on pages 26-27, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre with architectural plans as well as performers on stage. Each UK passport page is completely different from all the other pages and from all the other pages of other EU passports.
- "Resolution of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Communities, meeting within the Council of 23 June 1981".
- "Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States".
- Non-European lookalike passports, UK Passport office Archived 5 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- European Council regulations covering the issue of EULF documents, dated 17 December 2013, accessed 11 October 2016.
- Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 158/2007 of 7 December 2007 amending Annex V (Free movement of workers) and Annex VIII (Right of establishment) to the EEA Agreement, EUR-Lex. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- "UK Border Agency: Using e-passport gates". Ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
- "Entry clearance basics (entry clearance guidance) - GOV.UK".
- Article 6.3.2 of the Practical Handbook for Border Guards (C (2006) 5186)
- Judgement of the European Court of Justice of 17 February 2005, Case C 215/03, Salah Oulane vs. Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie
- "UK Visas and Immigration". gov.uk.
- Airline 'ban' on long name (The Sun 22 Sep 2008)
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- DELFI (29 January 2015). "Jaunā parauga Latvijas pilsoņu pases dizainu izstrādājuši PMLP speciālisti un vācu dizaineri".
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- "Paspoort en identiteitskaart voor Nederlanders in het buitenland". Denhaag.nl. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
- "Paspoort wordt 10 jaar geldig". Rijksoverheid.nl. 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
- "taxe pasapoarte".
- "Izdaja potnega lista".
- "Izdaja potnega lista za otroka".
- "Emergency travel document (ETD)". EUR-Lex. European Union. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
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