Diplomatic passports and other travel documents that open doors


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(CNN) — Chances are you only have one passport — maybe two if you have dual nationality.

But find yourself in a particular job — diplomatic, investigative or even presidential — and you may get your mitts on documentation that’s altogether inaccessible to the hoi polloi.

Here are some of the nonstandard passports and passes out there.

Diplomatic passport

What is it? Diplomatic passports are issued to government diplomats and consuls stationed abroad.

So, for instance, the United States chargé d’affaires in France, Brian Aggeler, will hold a diplomatic passport, as will the French Ambassador to the United States, Philippe Étienne.

What are the benefits? The requirement for a visa is often waived to ensure smooth passage. British diplomatic passport holders, for example, get visa-free entry to China.
Diplomats also often enjoy diplomatic immunity (note: this doesn’t give carte blanche to commit any crime you like while abroad). Family members of diplomats can sometimes acquire a diplomatic passport, too.

What else? In the UK, there’s a very special type of diplomatic passport, marked with the stamp of the Queen’s Messenger Service (QMS).

This is an elite group of couriers, who’ve been delivering classified diplomatic material for some 800 years.
Meanwhile, there was controversy surrounding Canadian diplomatic passports in 2017 when it was revealed that the country was possibly dishing out too many of them.

Presidential and prime ministerial passports

Perks of the job: US President Joe Biden doesn't have to pay for his pasport.

Perks of the job: US President Joe Biden doesn’t have to pay for his pasport.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

What is it? To possess the loftiest form of passport, you’ll need to work your way up to president or prime minister. These are a unique variant of diplomatic passport; the US president even has their profession emblazoned across it.

What are the benefits? Again, it’s tricky to be precise.

When we asked the UK Home Office what Boris Johnson’s passport perks might entail, it told us: “We don’t comment on individual cases.”

However, the VIP bearer probably doesn’t have to carry their passport with them; neither do they need to queue at customs — other officials will take care of that. Another added advantage: presidents and prime ministers don’t pay for their own passports.
Anything else? In 2015, an unmitigated snafu saw an Australian immigration official accidentally email the personal details — including passport numbers — of Obama, Merkel, Putin et al to the organizers of the Asian Cup football tournament.

At least the guilty party had their own identity protected; a press release from Australia’s Immigration Department read: “[Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details…

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