Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Getting a Tourist Passport While Living in Germany

I had never had a passport before we got orders to Germany, but a little while before we came here, I got a no-fee passport. I was originally told that I could travel on it but later found out that’s not the case. Countries in the European Union have open borders, so I most likely wouldn’t be checked if we drove somewhere. But I have heard of people getting stopped on in France and fined more thant he cost of a passport, so I decided not to risk it, and we had planned to spend the first year exploring Germany anyhow. In mid September, nearly a year after arriving in Germany, I finally managed to apply for a tourist passport.

passport

I don’t seem to be able to find my extra photos, so you get to see my passport photo with all the wavy lines and stars.

I knew I would need a passport photo, so I went to the shoppette and had a photo taken at the booth. For 5 euro you can get four pictures (and they only need one so you can use the rest for other things, such as if you apply for an international driver’s license which I’ll tell you about later). If you’re in Kaiserslautern, I saw a similar booth in the KMCC at Ramstein. I noticed there was no space above my head in the photo as there should be, so I wasn’t sure if they would let me use it, but decided to wait to find out. From my previous experience, I knew I would need to fill the application out online and print out the PDF. I also knew it would probably have to get sent to a different address than my own since I was applying on a military post, so I looked up the address here. If you’re in Kaiserslautern, the address you need and other info can be found here. Then I went to travel.state.gov, filled in the necessary info and printed it out.

The next day, I went in to the passport office and took a number. The wait wasn’t long. I let the lady know I didn’t yet have a money order because the bank had been closed when I arrived, but she said she could get started anyhow. I showed her the pictures and asked if what I had would work. She said it would and cut one out using a square cutting tool. She had recently started working there, so she double checked with someone else. When he noticed I had a no-fee passport already, he said that the fee would only be $110 rather than the $135 I had been expecting because they would be able to process it as a renewal.

I was happy to save the money, but I was surprised since I had been told before that the no-fee passport didn’t affect anything with applying for a tourist passport, so I would still have to apply for the tourist passport as a first timer. He said that most people think that, but it’s not the case, so I was glad he was working. Because of that, a part on the application about a previous passport had to be updated and he needed a copy of my previous passport and my ID. It turns out that because I had the other passport I also didn’t need my birth certificate as identification (although I had brought it anyway).

passports

My no-fee and tourist passports

While she updated that information, I went down to Service Credit Union to get a cashier’s check for the $110 made out to the Department of State. (At this location, they would take that or a money order, but my credit union gives cashier’s checks free). I took it back and they said they’d clip the paperwork together and and I’d have a passport in 4 to 6 weeks. They had made photo copies of my documents, so I didn’t have to leave anything with them. Overall, it was a quick and painless process. I probably should have gone over there sooner, but at least it got done, so I would soon be able to travel.

About a month after I applied, I got an email saying I could pick my passport up. A week later I got a chance to stop over and get it. Since there was only one person in the office ahead of me, it went pretty quickly. The longest part of the process was listening to the guy tell me about his all inclusive beach-front vacation coming up that cost him about 500 euro. One potentially useful thing I did get out of the conversation was the recommendation to keep a rubber band or paper clip around the no-fee passport so I know which one to show coming back into Germany.

Unfortunately the week I picked my passport up was the same week I had two papers and two final exams which would run into my weekend, and the following weekend I’d committed to work both Friday night and Saturday afternoon, but it was still nice to know that at least the passport was in my possession so the possibility of travel to other countries was there if not the immediate opportunity. My first trip out of the country, which I’ll tell you about soon, was to Strasbourgh, France. Of course I didn’t need the passport for it and didn’t get stopped, but with my luck if I hadn’t gotten the passport first I would have been.

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5 Thoughts on “Getting a Tourist Passport While Living in Germany

  1. Pingback: Getting an American Tourist Passport in Germany | Germany Ja!

  2. I guess it was a good idea to get a passport. Usually they don’t check the passports at the borders but you never know. 🙂

    • Yeah it would be my luck they would so now I don’t have to worry about it. Plus they’re good for several years so I don’t have to worry about it again unless I change my name. Since we got orders here so close to when we got married I never went through the hassle to switch my name over.

  3. Great post! I was a little confused at first about how you got to Germany in the first place without a passport, but then I saw all the Army/military tags.

    Countries in the Schengen Area don’t have any kind of border checks, but I have found that hotels frequently want to see a passport when you check in. It’s always a good idea to have it with you when you travel outside your home area.

    I’m not really clear on what the difference is between a no-fee passport and a tourist passport though- I thought there was only the one type of passport for regular people (vs. the diplomatic passport a friend of mine got when she was contracting for the gov.)

    • Thanks. Yeah I had a passport, just not a tourist one. I was issued a no-fee passport when I was put on my husband’s orders which is technically only good for getting me into Germany, or back into it if I leave.

      That’s a good point on the hotels. Now that you mention it they did require our passports when we stayed at a hotel in Spain.

      There’s the tourist passport for everyone and government employees who are traveling when not part of their official duties, and then the no-fee one for officers/employees of the government traveling abroad for the government and dependents of those people who are accompaying them on their assignment. The fee is waived on the no fee passport, but it’s only supposed to be used for official travel. On the inside of mine it says “VALID ONLY FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE BEARER’S RESIDENCE ABROAD AS A DEPENDENT OF A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY OR NAVAL FORCES ON ACTIVE DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.” They used to look different (the no-fee one was maroon while the tourist was blue) but now they’re both the same color.

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