A diplomatic passport and its advantages

Diplomatic passport; is a type of international identity document issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs defining the positions of diplomats and grants them privileges. Diplomatic passports are issued to government officials and their families who have been sent abroad to attend congresses and conferences.

Diplomatic passports are issued to government officials and their families who have been sent abroad to attend congresses and conferences. They are black, have 28 pages, and are exempt from any fees.2 The passport allows for easier and faster traveling as diplomats are not subject to the usual customs and immigration checks and often have their own lines when entering a country to avoid long lines and waiting. Many airports have a diplomats lounge reserved especially for diplomats, their staff, and government officials.0 The most important advantage of diplomatic passports is that it is a proof that the holder enjoys diplomatic immunity and identifies a honorary consul to the authorities of the host country. Other numerous advantages and privileges of having a diplomatic passport vary from one state to the other and with the main object behind the diplomatic appointments.

What are the benefits of having diplomatic passport?

Not nearly as much as you would think. Most benefits come with the diplomatic visa. Here are the benefits I can think of:

  1. It is free (though you still need to buy a normal passport).
  2. It sometimes gets you through the fast customs lane (but not to your home country) and usually you will not get openly searched.
  3. It cuts down on corruption and harassment. This is the biggie. I have been waved over by police and told I must pay $500 on the spot. My only crime was driving in a line of cars and not looking local. When asked for ID I pull out the dip passport and politely ask for the paperwork, his name and his badge. I say I am happy to pay the fine in the court and they quickly change their tune and talk about “professional courtesy” and refuse to give name or badge number. I get waved on my way. This has happened a few times and it always plays out the same though some are friendly and others rather unhappy. Even if you don’t have diplomatic immunity they still think you have connections. Corrupt cops are looking for easy fish and this one is not worth the effort.
  4. If you also have a diplomatic visa and a certain diplomatic status you get immunity from most crimes in the country you are assigned to (but see #2 below). Often you only have consular immunity which is simply protection from decisions you make at work, not in the community.
  5. Your government should support you if you are harassed too heavily but governments are busy and usually have better things to do.

Negatives:

  1. In certain countries you will get surveilled constantly and in others intermittently. Sex with your spouse may be taped and listened in on by a variety of people.
  2. Anything stupid you do can be used against you in the court of public opinion which then goes on your record. That parking ticket you got- if you choose not to pay, it gets mailed to the embassy and your supervisor has a long discussion with you about obeying local norms and paying proper dues to society. That nasty twitter rant you wrote can have you lose your position and be sent home and denied promotion. One colleague wrote private and sexist emails about how many women he hooked up with. His emails were published in a major newspaper, he was sent home in shame, denied promotion and essentially fired for the emails and hookups. I am not defending sexism or random sex but pointing out the consequences. His non government buddies who did the same thing had their lives unaffected while this guy killed himself soon after. Another person had an argument with a border guard about a tariff on cat food. This argument became a major incident between the two countries and the colleague was reprimanded heavily by a host of supervisors and that conversation will be forever on his record. Consequences are different when you are representing a country.
  3. If known, people constantly ask if I can help them get a visa. Money or sex is sometimes offered. This is why most diplomats are quiet about their status.

Edit: Regarding the corruption above, my brother has a dip passport also. Two of his teenage sons were walking in a park when the police pulled them over for unspecified crimes. The kids were taken to the police station and told they could pay to get out of the charges. The kids were unimpressed and simply sat there waiting for charges. After an hour the police let them go and they went to their dad who was annoyed at having to wait for them. My brother mentioned this incident to someone in the office who passed it on the security person who passed it on the ambassador. Once the facts were clear the ambassador called the president and yelled about his worker’s kids being held at ransom and threatened by submachine guns. If this happened again millions of dollars in aid would be threatened. The president apologized and said it would never happen again and that punishments would happen to all the police involved. The kids were given pictures of all the police on duty that day and pointed out the half dozen involved in the shakedown. I doubt any of the police were ever punished but my understanding is that obvious shakedowns of foreigners stopped. Long story but it shows the dip passport can be handy at times.

US Diplomatic passport
A diplomatic passport and its advantages 1

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