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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

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

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The Answer Above is Incorrect
by: Anonymous

Comment: The answer posted above was posted by the host of this posting board who is trying to sell you his passport application service. In accordance with United States Army Europe Regulation 600-90 paragraph 6.b. the official no-fee passport may be used for incidental personal travel while overseas in Europe; IF it is accepted as appropriate documentation by the country that you wish to enter. You should check with the country you wish to travel to on personal travel to see if they will accept your no-fee official passport.

Response: The general rule is that a military passport can only be used for official travel and a regular, tourist passport is required for leisure travel. The regulation you cited limits the use of an official passport for incidental travel to those who have SOFA identification in the form of a stamp in
the passport and who travel to NATO countries only.

It goes on to state, "Persons who require a passport without SOFA identification stamped in the passport must get a tourist passport at their own expense."

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