The diplomatic passport
1. The right to enjoy diplomatic status, with full privileges and immunities in a receiving State, is obtained not by the mere fact of carrying a diplomatic passport. This will require that the State issuing such a document attests to the receiving State that the holder is a diplomatic functionary of its Embassy or other diplomatic mission.
2. The diplomatic passport has been recognized since its origin as a legal travel document of a higher grade. It is granted in almost all States, subject to domestic law, to the dignitaries of the nation, diplomatic agents, and by extension, the family members of those who are part of their homes.
3. The diplomatic passport is not usually provided for an indefinite period. In most countries these should expire at the end of the mission or the office of the owner, except of course those granted usually to the retired ambassadors with pensionable status, and also to former heads of state and former foreign ministers, in accordance with international practice.
4. Most countries, to admit on its territory he holder of the document, typically require that the passport of the applicant has the appropriate entry visa stamp. Today, however, it is becoming more frequent to abolish visas at the bilateral level.
5. Only through a diplomatic note can an application be made for a visa for a diplomatic passport. The text of the note should indicate the purpose of travel since this will determine the type and duration of the visa.
6. The origin of diplomatic passports date back to medieval times. These were granted to “royal envoys” or ambassadors for the purpose of obtaining a special treatment during their travel. At the same time, church officials granted a similar type of travel document to travelling pilgrims under its protection. However, the historical ancestor of the passport has been identified in the “tractoria” which the Romans granted the envoys, who got the right of way in traveling facilities, while assuring them protection of their persons and properties within the boundaries of the Roman Empire.
7. The current trend is to suppress the use of passports among countries of the region with strong trade or tourism as well as among the signatories of integration agreements. Today, sovereign states issuing two types of passports: the diplomatic (diplomatic and official) and the ordinary. Along with these, there is a third kind of passport which is not widely used in international practice and which is the so-called service passport. Some countries grant administrative and technical staff members of its diplomatic missions and other state institutions this type of passport. A host States may also issue a service passport to a person who is in exile in a diplomatic mission to leave the territory of that State (without being arrested or harmed physically) to another State which accepts or grant him political asylum.
8. Different passports are issued by international agencies with power to do so. These are called “laissez-passer” and are provided only to those working in the organisation as international civil servants. There is also the so-called “Nansen Passport” established in 1922, which is issued today by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with the purpose of giving protection to stateless persons and those whose nationality is doubtful.
© by Odeen Ishmael