What Is a Diplomatic Passport?

A diplomatic passport is a type of identity document that is only issued to certain individuals.

This type of passport is most often used by diplomats and other government officials to journey overseas.

Diplomatic Passport Definition

A diplomatic passport is used by high-ranking government officials to travel internationally with more ease.

It is also commonly used by diplomats who are stationed overseas.

The holder can cross international borders while bypassing a lot of the typical travel regulations that regular passport holders must follow.

Using a diplomatic passport means that the holder is traveling on official government business.  

What Does a Diplomatic Passport Look Like?

A diplomatic passport varies depending on the country of issue.

Usually, it is easy to differentiate from a regular tourist passport. It is likely to be a different color, and state the words “Diplomatic Passport” on the cover.

For example, India’s official passport is white, while its diplomatic passport is red.

The color difference makes it easy for border officials to identify a government official and offer them the relevant privileges.

Who Can Apply for a Diplomatic Passport?

Diplomatic passports are only issued to those who have diplomatic status. It is not a document that can be applied for by anyone.

The requirements can differ depending on the country. The type of statuses that qualify for a diplomatic passport include:

  • Members of parliament
  • Governors
  • Heads of religious affairs
  • Members of court
  • Generals or admirals
  • Former presidents or prime ministers

Can Family Members Apply?

Once someone has been issued a diplomatic passport, their family members often qualify for one themselves.

Again, this can depend on the country, but generally the benefits afforded to foreign diplomats are also extended to their immediate family. 

What Are the Advantages of Diplomatic Passport?

There are many benefits to having a diplomatic passport.

Traveling internationally with this type of travel document affords the holder certain benefits that those with a regular tourist passport do not have.

It can vary depending on the destination and specific immigration regulations, but generally a diplomatic passport allows the visitor numerous privileges.

Diplomatic immunity

Those with a diplomatic passport are granted legal immunity from lawsuit or prosecution.

There are still limitations to this immunity. A foreign diplomat is exempt from the law to a certain extent, and at the discretion of their host country.

Clear identification as a government official

Traveling with a diplomatic passport allows the holder to be easily recognized as a government official. 

Authorities are able to identify those who are on official government business, and therefore treat them accordingly.

Visa-free entry to certain countries

Many countries allow diplomatic passport holders to cross their borders without the need for a visa.

This allows the government official to travel with ease, by speeding up immigration checks.

Diplomatic airport channels

Foreign diplomats are exempt from certain airport protocols, such as bag searches and identity checks.

The bearer can go through an airport without delaying time by waiting for their belongings or identification to be approved.

Diplomatic vehicle license plates

Those with a diplomatic passport are permitted to use specific diplomatic license plates on their vehicle.

This allows them to be easily identified as a government official while they are driving.

Tax-free travel

A diplomatic passport holder is exempt from paying any tax that results from traveling, by air or land.

Generally they travel frequently, so this aids them in doing so.

Tax-free income in foreign territories

A foreign diplomat is not required to pay income tax in any territory other than the host country.

They are legally permitted to tax-free earnings in other nations.