Can an emergency passport be used to cross a Schengen Area border? Do diplomatic passport holders have any additional benefits? What are the prerequisites for a Schengen visa for seafarers? Learn about travelling to Europe using unusual passports and unique travel papers, and if they may be used to apply for ETIAS beginning in 2023.
To pass an external border, travellers from outside the European Union must have a valid travel document. A visa may be required depending on the country of origin and the length of stay.
The majority of foreigners apply for a Schengen visa or enter the Schengen Area visa-free with a regular passport. The most common type of passport issued to individual citizens is a standard passport.
There are, however, various additional forms of passports and travel papers available. This page outlines which types are acceptable for entry into the Schengen Area and which are not.
Travelers from visa-exempt nations will be required to apply for ETIAS to enter the Schengen Area beginning in November 2023. The following information also looks at which papers may be used to get the new EU visa waiver.
A diplomatic passport is a type of passport that is issued to a country’s diplomats and their immediate families for official international travel.
Diplomatic passport holders are entitled to certain benefits, including the ability to use diplomatic channels at airports to avoid delays, diplomatic immunity, and reduced immigration requirements.
DO I NEED A VISA TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE WITH A DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT?
A diplomatic passport is only valid for official travel to Europe. There is no unified EU policy on diplomatic passports. Individual member nations may provide visa waivers to diplomats who would ordinarily require a visa in addition to standard visa exemptions.
Diplomatic passport holders must examine the exact visa requirements of the European country they are going.
DIPLOMATIC PASSPORTS AND ETIAS FOR EUROPE
The European visa waiver does not apply to “third-country nationals carrying diplomatic or service passports who have been exempted from the visa requirement pursuant to an international agreement negotiated by the Union and a third country,” according to Article 2 of the ETIAS regulation.
This implies that diplomatic passport holders who do not need a visa to visit Europe will not need to apply for ETIAS while entering the Schengen Area to carry out official obligations.
Diplomats visiting Europe for tourism or non-official purposes, on the other hand, must meet the ETIAS requirements and apply with a regular passport.
SEAFARERS’ IDENTITY DOCUMENT
The Seafarer’s Identity Document, sometimes known colloquially as a Seaman’s Book or Seaman’s Card, is a unique document granted to seafarers.
In 1958, an International Labour Organization Convention safeguarded sailors’ rights to visit a country temporarily on shore leave.
Sea sailors aboard ships that spend months at sea rely on shore leave to utilise port services and seek medical treatment. Seafarers may also be required to travel ashore in order to depart and rejoin ships.
SCHENGEN VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR SEAMEN
When on duty, the seaman’s book permits sea workers to access several countries without a visa. According to article 6 of the European Union’s 2018/1806 Regulation, individual EU countries may elect to waive visa requirements for those who have a seafarer’s identity certificate in addition to a valid passport.
For lengthier visits, several member nations will support a seafarer’s book with a visa. This is determined by the seafarer’s nationality and the receiving EU country. In some cases, the seaman’s book must be used in conjunction with a regular passport to which the visa has been attached.
Because there is no unified procedure, sea crew must check whether they need to apply for a Schengen visa to visit the EU nation where they will be calling.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A SEAMAN’S BOOK
Seafarers can apply for a seaman’s card through their home country’s government. While processes vary, it typically entails filling out an application form and submitting official documentation.
The seaman’s card must be valid in order to benefit from visa exemption for sailors. Crew whose identity is due to expire must renew it before they may land in a European nation.
An emergency passport is given to people whose passports have been lost, stolen, or damaged while they are abroad and who do not have enough time to get a new passport before their flight home.
The emergency passport, also known as a temporary passport, is only valid for a short period of time and is intended for emergency travel, specifically to the holder’s home country.
CAN I TRAVEL TO EUROPE WITH AN EMERGENCY PASSPORT?
Third-country nationals visiting a European Union country must have a passport valid for at least three months from the date of departure. Emergency passports are ineligible for visa-free travel.
The validity duration of an emergency passport varies based on the nation granting it. Many temporary passports have a validity period of less than three months and hence cannot be used to apply for a Schengen visa.
Emergency passports are only intended for one-way travel return to one’s native country and are not intended for tourism or other purposes. Only direct passage via a Schengen nation with an emergency passport is possible to allow foreigners to return home.
Before making travel plans, travellers should consult their country’s embassy for advice based on their individual circumstances.
CAN I APPLY FOR ETIAS WITH AN EMERGENCY PASSPORT?
Visa-free travel in Europe is not permitted with an emergency passport. Due to the limitations stated above, it is doubtful that an ETIAS visa waiver for tourist or business purposes will be possible using a temporary travel document.
Furthermore, because a biometric passport is required to apply for ETIAS, emergency passports may lack the electronic chip necessary to affix the approved visa waiver to upon approval. More information, however, will be given once the new online permit to Europe is implemented.
APPLYING FOR ETIAS WITH A SEAFARER’S IDENTITY CARD
International law requires that sea crew are subject to limited entry requirements. Nations must facilitate maritime traffic, which includes the fast transfer of personnel.
It is, therefore, likely that sea crew will be exempt from ETIAS, however, this is yet to be confirmed. Further information will be provided as the ETIAS implementation date approaches.
OTHER ACCEPTED DOCUMENTS TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE
The following travel papers may be used to pass an external EU border and get a visa.
- Special Administrative Region passports (all EU countries accept Hong Kong Special Regional Passports)
- Travel documents for stateless persons
- Travel documents for refugees and asylum seekers
- Crew member passports
- Military passports
- Collective passports
Because there are no EU-wide laws governing these passports, holders must check with the embassy or consulate of the country into which they intend to go.
WHICH TRAVEL DOCUMENTS ARE NOT ACCEPTED BY THE EU?
Passports that have expired cannot be used to go to Europe. Most nations require a passport to be valid for at least six months.
Furthermore, some types of passports or travel papers are not valid for crossing an external EU border. Because they are not recognised as official travel documents, they will not be validated with a visa.
FANTASY PASSPORTS CANNOT BE USED TO ENTER EUROPE
Minorities, cults, and demographic groupings produce fantasy passports, or private organisations supply ID.
The EU will not recognise these ‘passports,’ and they will not be validated with a visa. Here are some instances of fantasy passports:
- ‘Cornish passport’
- ‘Dukedom of New Sealand’
- ‘Free State of California’
- ‘Parliamentary passport’
- ‘World Passport/World Service Authority Passport’
CAMOUFLAGE PASSPORTS ARE NOT RECOGNISED BY EU MEMBER STATES
Camouflage passports are those issued by former governments that no longer exist. Camouflage passports include the following:
- Burma/Birma (now Myanmar)
- Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)
- Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia)
- Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
- Spanish Guiana (now Equatorial Guinea)
TERRITORIES THAT ARE NOT RECOGNISED INTERNATIONALLY
There are also three territories that are not internationally recognised and thus will not accept travel documents to cross the EU border:
- Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
- Saharwei, Arab Democratic Republic
- Temporary Government of Serbia at Kosovo
Travelers can consult the European Commission for a complete list of fantasy, camouflage, and unrecognised territories.