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Can I travel while in Europe using only a service passport?

by Brandy
(Velburg, Germany)

Question: My husband is in the Army and we are currently stationed in Germany. I have heard that I can travel to other countries in Europe on a service passport and I have also heard that I cannot travel on a service passport.

I would really like to go to the Czech Republic (about an hour away), Russia, Italy, France, Ireland and the U.K. while I am here. So do I need to get a regular passport or can I use my service passport?

Answer: According to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Services, "You may use your no-fee passport ONLY when going overseas in discharge of your official duties. You must not use the no-fee passport when you leave the U.S. for personal travel. For personal travel, you need to use a regular fee (tourist/business) passport."

The latest version of Army Regulation 600-290 states, "Service members and family members, with no-fee passports who are on assignment outside the United States normally do not need to obtain regular passports for incidental personal travel. But the personal travel must be such that use of the passport is not questioned by the foreign government concerned. If the foreign government does not accept the no-fee passport for personal travel, the service member or family members must obtain regular fee passports at personal expense. The traveler is responsible for, and must obtain, visas needed for personal travel."

Since what may be considered "incidental" is not clearly defined and the final decision is left to the border agents in the countries you plan to visit, you may want to obtain a regular, tourist passport but the decision is yours. If decide to get one, you can apply at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate general. Click the link below for more information.

U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Germany

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