Passports of the European Union

The European Union itself does not issue ordinary passports, but ordinary passport booklets issued by its 28 member states share a common format.[1] This common format features a coloured cover (for which burgundy is recommended but not compulsory: all countries except Croatia follow this recommendation) emblazoned—in the official language(s) of the issuing country (and sometimes its translation into English and French)—with the title "European Union", followed by the name(s) of the member state, its coat of arms, the word "PASSPORT", together with the biometric passport symbol at the bottom centre of the front cover.[2]

Some EU member states also issue non-EU passports to certain people who have a nationality which does not render them citizens of the European Union (e.g., British Overseas Territories Citizens except those with a connection to Gibraltar, British Protected Persons and British Subjects).[3]

In addition, the European Commission issues European Union Laissez-Passers to the members and certain civil servants of its institutions.[4]


With a valid passport, EU citizens are entitled to exercise the right of free movement (meaning they do not need a visa) in the European Economic Area (European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland.[5]

When going through border controls to enter an EEA country, EU citizens possessing valid biometric passports are sometimes able to use automated gates instead of immigration counters. For example, when entering the United Kingdom, at major airports, adult holders of EU biometric passports can use ePassport gates, whilst all other EU citizens (such as those using a national identity card or a non-biometric passport) and non-EEA citizens must use an immigration counter. Anyone travelling with children must also use an immigration counter.[6]

As an alternative to holding a passport, EU citizens can also use a valid national identity card to exercise their right of free movement within the EEA and Switzerland.[7] Strictly speaking, it is not necessary for an EU citizen to possess a valid passport or national identity card to enter the EEA or Switzerland. In theory, if an EU citizen outside of both the EEA and Switzerland can prove their nationality by any other means (e.g. by presenting an expired passport or national identity card, or a citizenship certificate), they must be permitted to enter the EEA or Switzerland. An EU citizen who is unable to demonstrate their nationality satisfactorily must nonetheless be given 'every reasonable opportunity' to obtain the necessary documents or to have them delivered within a reasonable period of time.[8][9][10]

Common design features

While considerable progress has been made in harmonising some features, the data page can be at the front or at the back of an EU passport booklet and there are still significant design differences throughout to indicate which member state is the issuer.[note 1]

Only British and Irish passports are not obliged by EU law to contain fingerprint information in their chip. With the exception of passports issued by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, all EU citizens applying for a new ordinary passport or passport renewal by 28 August 2006 (for facial images) and 28 June 28 2009 (for fingerprints) should have been biometrically enrolled. This is a consequence of Regulation (EC) 2252/2004 in combination with two follow-up decisions by the European Commission.[11]

Non-standard types of passports, such as passport cards (Ireland is still the only EU country to issue a passport in card format), diplomatic, service and emergency passports have not yet been harmonised but, since the 1980s, European Union member states have started to harmonise aspects of the designs of their ordinary passport booklets.[1] Most passports issued by EU member states have the common recommended layout; burgundy in colour with the words “European Union” accompanied by the name of the issuing member state printed on the cover.[12]

However, the newest EU member state Croatia refused to fully comply with the EU common recommended layout even though the Croatian passport has been changed in design due to the recent accession into the EU. From 3 August 2015, the new Croatian passport retained its dark blue passport cover and is the odd one out among the 28 European Union member states' passports.[13] On the other hand, the UK Government announced plans in December 2017 to return to the dark blue cover passport after Brexit,[14] which in 1988 the UK Government voluntarily changed the colour of the passport to burgundy red, in line with all EU passports.

Overall format


Information on the cover, in this order, in the language(s) of the issuing state:

  • The words "EUROPEAN UNION" (before 1997: "EUROPEAN COMMUNITY")
  • Name of the issuing state (similar typeface as "EUROPEAN UNION")
  • Emblem of the state
  • The word "PASSPORT"
  • The Biometric Passport symbol

First page

Information on the first page, in one or more of the languages of the European Union:

  • The words "EUROPEAN UNION"
  • Name of the issuing state (similar typeface to that of "European Union")
  • The word "PASSPORT"
  • Serial number (may also be repeated on the other pages)

Identification page

Information on the (possibly laminated) identification page, in the languages of the issuing state plus English and French, accompanied by numbers that refer to an index that lists the meaning of these fields in all official EU languages:

1. Surname 2. Forename(s)
3. Nationality 4. Date of birth
5. Sex 6. Place of birth
7. Date of issue     8. Date of expiry
9. Authority 10. Signature of holder

On the top of the identification page there is the code "P" for passport, the code (ISO 3166-1 alpha-3) for the issuing country, and the passport number. On the left side there is the photo. On other places there might optionally be a national identification number, the height and security features.

Machine-readable zone

Like all biometric passports, the newer EU passports contain a Machine-readable zone, which contains the name, nationality and most other information from the identification page. It is designed in a way so that computers can fairly easily read the information, although it still human readable, since it contains only letters (A–Z), digits and "<" as space character, but no bar graph or similar.

Personal name spelling differences

Names containing non-English letters are usually spelled in the correct way in the visual (non-machine-readable) zone of the passport, but are mapped into A-Z according to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the machine-readable zone.

The following mapping is specified for EU languages: å → AA; ä/æ → AE; ö/ø/œ → OE, ü → UE (German) or UXX (Spanish) and ß → SS. Letters with accents are otherwise replaced by simple letters (ç → C, ê → E, etc.). For Greek and Bulgarian there are mapping tables based on translitteration into English. They use both their and Latin alphabet in the visual zone.

For example, the German names Müller becomes MUELLER, Groß becomes GROSS, and Gößmann becomes GOESSMANN. The ICAO mapping is mostly used for computer-generated and internationally used documents such as air tickets, but sometimes (like in US visas) also simple letters are used (MULLER, GOSSMANN).

The three possible spelling variants of the same name (e.g. Müller / Mueller / Muller) in different documents sometimes lead to confusion, and the use of two different spellings within the same document (like in the passports of German-speaking countries) may give people who are unfamiliar with the foreign orthography the impression that the document is a forgery.

It is recommended to use the spelling used in the machine-readable passport zone for visas, airline tickets, etc., and to refer to that zone if being questioned. The same thing applies if the name is too long to fit in the airline's ticket system, otherwise problems can arise.[16] (The machine-readable has room for 39 letters for the name while the visual zone can contain as many as will fit)

Following page

Optional information on the following page:

11. Residence 12. Height
13. Colour of eyes     14. Extension of the passport
15. Name at birth (if now using married name or have legally changed names)

Remaining pages

  • The following page is reserved for:
    • Details concerning the spouse of the holder of the passport (where a family passport is issued)
    • Details concerning children accompanying the holder (name, first name, date of birth, sex)
    • Photographs of the faces of spouse and children
  • The following page is reserved for use by the issuing authorities
  • The following page carries the index that translates the field numbers into the official languages of the EU
  • The remaining pages are reserved for visas and entry and exit stamps
  • The inside back cover is reserved for additional information or recommendations by the issuing state in its own official language(s)

Overview of passports issued by 28 Member States

Member state Passport cover Biodata page Cost Validity Issuing authority Latest version

  • €75.90 (aged 12 or over)[17]
  • €30.00 (aged 0–11)[18]
  • Free (aged 0–2, first issue)
  • 10 years (aged 12 or over)
  • 5 years (aged 2–11)
  • 2 years (aged 0–2)
5 September 2014[19]

  • €65 (adults; 32 pages; in Belgium)
  • €35 (children; 32 pages; in Belgium)
  • €240 (adults; 64 pages; in Belgium)
  • €210 (children; 64 pages; in Belgium)
  • €75 (adults; 32 pages; abroad)
  • €35 (children; 32 pages; abroad)
  • €240 (adults; 64 pages; abroad)
  • €210 (children; 64 pages; abroad)[20]
  • 7 years (majors aged 18 or over)
  • 5 years (minors aged under 18)
  • Communes (in Belgium)
  • Belgian embassies and consulates (abroad)
1 May 2014[21]

  • BGN 40 (adults aged 14–58)
  • BGN 20 (under 14 and 58-70)
  • BGN 10 (over 70)[22]
  • 5 years

Ministry of Interior Affairs

29 March 2010

  • 10 years (adults aged 21 or over)
  • 5 years (adults aged under 21)
  • Ministry of the Interior Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
3 August 2015
  • €70 (adults)
  • €45 (minors)[24]
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (minors)[25]
  • Civil Registry and Migration Department, Ministry of the Interior;
    Embassies and High Commissions of the Republic of Cyprus
13 December 2010
Czech Republic

  • CZK 600 (adults aged 15 or over; issued within 30 days)
  • CZK 100 (children under 15)
  • CZK 1200 (adults over 15, at embassies/consulates abroad, 120 days)
  • CZK 400 (children under 15, abroad)[26]
  • 10 years (adults aged 15 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 15)
  • any of the 205 town halls with augmented authority
  • abroad: consulates of the Czech Republic (except honorary consulates)
1 September 2006

  • DKK 627 (age 18-64)
  • DKK 377 (age 65+)
  • DKK 142 (age 12-17)
  • DKK 115 (age 0-11)[27]
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (children under 18)
  • Kommune (Municipality)
1 January 2012

  • €40 (ages 15 and up)
  • €20 (children under 15)
  • €60 (ages 15 and up when applying abroad)
  • €20 (children under 15 when applying abroad)[28]
  • 10 years (ages 15 and up)
  • 5 years (children under 15)
  • Police and Border Guard Board (PPA)
1 June 2014[29]

  • €53 (€49 online)
  • €26 for veterans of Finnish wars (€24 online)
  • €88 temporary passport[30]
  • 5 years
21 August 2012
Åland Islands[31]
  • €53 (€49 online)
  • 5 years
21 August 2012

  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (children under 18)
  • Préfecture offices (but forms can be addressed to any city hall)
  • French consulates (abroad)
12 April 2006

  • €60 (aged 24 or over; 32 pages)
  • €37.50 (applicants under 24; 32 pages)
  • €82 (aged 24 or over; 48 pages)
  • €59.50 (applicants under 24; 48 pages)[34]
  • 10 years (aged 24 or over)
  • 6 years (applicants under 24)
Municipal registration office 1 March 2017

  • €84.40 (adults)
  • €73.60 (children)[35]
  • 5 years (applicants aged 15 or over)
  • 2 years (children under 15)
National Passport Centre ("Διεύθυνση Διαβατηρίων/Αρχηγείο Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας") 28 August 2006

  • HUF 14000 (10 years)
  • HUF 7500 (5 years)[36]
  • 5 years
  • 10 years

Registration Office (Nyilvántartó Hivatal)

1 March 2012

  • €80 (adults; 32 pages)
  • €30 (minors)
  • €110 (adults; 66 pages)[37]
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (children)
Consular and Passport Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs 3 October 2013

  • 10 years (adults aged 18 or over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 3–17)
  • 3 years (children under 3)[39]
Minister of Foreign Affairs through
  • Local quaestor (in Italy)
  • Consulates and embassies (abroad)[40]
20 May 2010
  • €28.46 (applicants over 20)
  • €14.23 (pensioners, disabled and aged under 20)[41]
  • 10 years (adults aged 60 or over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 5–59)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
  • Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP)
29 January 2015[42]

  • €43 (adults)
  • €21.50 (children)[43]
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 5–15)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
27 January 2011

  • €50 (5-year passports)
  • €30 (2-year passports)[44]
  • 5 years (applicants aged 4 or over)
  • 2 years (applicants under 4)
Bureau des passeports 16 February 2015[45]
  • €70-80 (applicants aged 16 and over; higher fee applies April to August)
  • €40 (applicants aged 10 to 15)
  • €16 (applicants under 4)[46]
  • 10 years (applicants aged 16 and over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 10 to 15)
  • 2 years (applicants under 4)
Passport & Civil Registration Directorate 29 September 2008
The Netherlands

  • €65.30 (maximum rate; adults; 34-page; individual municipalities determine the rate; 66-page business passport available for the same price on request.)
  • €52 (maximum rate; minors; 34-page; individual municipalities determine the rate.)
  • €115.77 (minors; 34 pages; abroad.)
  • €129.07 (adults; 34 pages; abroad.)
  • US$94.38 (minors; maximum rate, all ages 34-page Aruba, Curaçao, Saint-Martin, Caribbean Netherlands.)
  • US$109.24 (adults; maximum rate, all ages 34-page Aruba, Curaçao, Saint-Martin, Caribbean Netherlands. 66-page business passport available for the same price on request.)[47]
  • 10 years (applicants aged 18 and over)[48]
  • 5 years (applicants aged under 18)
  • Gemeente (Municipality)
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Abroad)
23 December 2017

  • PLN 140 (for applicants aged between 13 and 70)
  • PLN 30 (for applicants aged under 13)
  • free for applicants aged 70 and over
  • certain classes of applicants qualify for a 50% discount of a relevant fee[49]
  • 10 years (applicants aged 13 and over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged under 13)
1 January 2018
  • 5 years (applicants aged 5 or over)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
10 July 2017
  • RON 258 (5-year passports, applicants aged over 12)
  • RON 234 (3-year passports, applicants aged under 12)
  • RON 96 (1-year temporary passports)[51]
  • 5 years (applicants aged 12 or over)
  • 3 years (applicants under 12)
  • 1-year (temporary passport)
Ministry of Internal Affairs (General Directorate for Passports) 26 April 2006
  • €33 (applicants older than 16)
  • €13 (applicants aged 6-16)
  • €8 (applicants aged 6 or younger)
  • 50% discount exists for seriously ill applicants; 10% discount exists for applicants whose fingerprints cannot be taken and who obtain a passport valid for 1 year.[52]
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 5–15)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
15 January 2008

  • €46.10 (10 years; age 18+)
  • €39.30 (5 years; age 3-18)
  • €35.20 (3 years; age under 3)
  • €34.80 (1 year; when in 5 years two or more passports were lost or stolen or fingerprints cannot be taken)[53]
  • Ministry of the Interior
28 August 2006

  • 10 years (applicants over 30)
  • 5 years (applicants between 5 and 30)
  • 2 years (applicants under 5)
2 January 2015
  • 5 years
  • Swedish Police Authority (in Sweden)
  • Swedish embassies and consulates (abroad)
2 January 2012
United Kingdom

Adult passports (16 and over)
  • £85 (34 pages, by post)
  • £75.50 (34 pages, online)
  • £95 (50 pages, by post)
  • £85.50 (50 pages, online)
  • Free/£0 (if born on or before 2 September 1929)[56]
  • £100 (emergency travel document)[57]

Child passports (under 16)

  • £58.50 (by post)
  • £49 (online)[56]
  • 10 years (Adult)
  • 5 years (Children)[56]
  • Limited to specific travel plans (Emergency)[57]
December 2015

  • £42.00 (adults)
  • £25.00 (children)
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 16)
  • Civil Status and Registration Office, Gibraltar

Passport rankings

See also: Visa requirements for European Union citizens

Passport rankings by the number of countries and territories their holders could visit without a visa or by obtaining visa on arrival in February 2018 were as follows (sourced from Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2018):

Country Number of destinations
Austria 186
Belgium 185
Bulgaria 169
Croatia 169
Cyprus 171
Czech Republic 182
Denmark 187
Estonia 178
Finland 187
France 187
Germany 188
Greece 185
Hungary 180
Ireland 185
Italy 187
Latvia 179
Lithuania 179
Luxembourg 186
Malta 182
Netherlands 186
Poland 175
Portugal 186
Romania 169
Slovakia 179
Slovenia 180
Spain 187
Sweden 187
United Kingdom (British Citizen Passport) 186

Multiple simultaneous passports

Same country

Some EU countries, such as Germany, Ireland, Malta and the UK, allow their citizens to have several passports at once to circumvent certain travel restrictions. This can be useful if wanting to travel while a passport remains at a consulate while a visa application is processed, or wanting to apply for further visas while already in a foreign country. It can also be needed to circumvent the fact that visitors whose passports show evidence of a visit to Israel are not allowed to enter Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Syria and Yemen (It is, however, possible to get the Israeli entry and exit stamp on a separate piece of paper).

Multiple citizenship

Each EU member state can make its own citizenship laws, so some countries allow dual or multiple citizenship without any restrictions (e.g. France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom), some regulate/restrict it (e.g. Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain), and others allow it only in exceptional cases (e.g. Lithuania) or only for citizens by descent (e.g. Croatia, Estonia).

A citizen of an EU member state can live and work in all other EU and EFTA countries (but not necessarily vote or work in sensitive fields, such as government, police, military where citizenship is often required). Non-citizens may not have the same rights to welfare and unemployment benefits like citizens.

Emergency passports

Decision 96/409/CSFP of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 25 June 1996 on the establishment of an emergency travel document[58] decided that there would be a standard emergency travel document (ETD).

ETDs are issued to European Union citizens for a single journey back to the EU country of which they are a national, to their country of permanent residence or, in exceptional cases, to another destination (inside or outside the Union). The decision does not apply to expired national passports; it is specifically confined to cases where travel documents have been lost, stolen or destroyed or are temporarily unavailable.

Embassies and consulates of EU countries different to the applicant may issue emergency travel documents if

  1. the applicant is an EU national whose passport or travel document has been lost, stolen or destroyed or is temporarily unavailable;
  2. the applicant is in a country in which the EU country of which s/he is a national has no accessible diplomatic or consular representation able to issue a travel document or in which the EU country in question is not otherwise represented;
  3. clearance from the authorities of the applicant’s country of origin has been obtained.

Right to consular protection in non-EU countries

As a consequence of citizenship of the European Union, when in a non-EU country EU citizens whose country maintains no diplomatic mission there, have the right to consular protection and assistance from a diplomatic mission of any other EU country present in the non-EU country.

Other EEA passports and Swiss passports

Like passports issued by EU member states, passports of other EEA states – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – as well as of Switzerland, can also be used to exercise the right of free movement within the European Economic Area and Switzerland.[59] Passports and travel documents issued by member states shall comply with minimum security standards, and passports must incorporate a storage medium (a chip) that contains the holder's facial image and fingerprints. This obligation does not apply to identity cards or to temporary passports and travel documents with a validity of one year or less. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are bound by the rules (while the United Kingdom and Ireland are not).[2]

See also


  1. All the EU issuing nations make an effort to ensure that their passports feature nationally distinctive designs. Finnish passports make a flip-book of a moose walking. The new UK passport launched on 3 November 2015 features on pages 26-27, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre with architectural plans as well as performers on stage. Each UK passport page is completely different from all the other pages and from all the other pages of other EU passports.


  1. 1 2 "Resolution of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Communities, meeting within the Council of 23 June 1981".
  2. 1 2 "Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States".
  3. Non-European lookalike passports, UK Passport office Archived 5 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. European Council regulations covering the issue of EULF documents, dated 17 December 2013, accessed 11 October 2016.
  5. Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 158/2007 of 7 December 2007 amending Annex V (Free movement of workers) and Annex VIII (Right of establishment) to the EEA Agreement, EUR-Lex. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  6. "UK Border Agency: Using e-passport gates". 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  7. "Entry clearance basics (entry clearance guidance) - GOV.UK".
  8. Article 6.3.2 of the Practical Handbook for Border Guards (C (2006) 5186)
  9. Judgement of the European Court of Justice of 17 February 2005, Case C 215/03, Salah Oulane vs. Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie
  10. "UK Visas and Immigration".
  12. Anonymous (6 December 2016). "Document security - Migration and Home Affairs - European Commission".
  13. "Croatian Passport the 'Blue' Sheep of the 'Burgundy' EU Family". CroatiaWeek. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  14. "Blue passport to return after Brexit". BBC News. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  15. "Croatian Passport the 'Blue' Sheep of the 'Burgundy' EU Family". CroatiaWeek. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  16. Airline 'ban' on long name (The Sun 22 Sep 2008)
  17. " Reisepass – Neuausstellung". Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  18. "Council of the European Union - PRADO - AUT-AO-02002". Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  19. "Osobní doklady" [Personal identification documents] (in Czech). Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic. 31 May 2017.
  20. "Estonian citizen's passport".
  21. "Service prices 1st January 2018 - Local police service prices - Travel documents, identity documents and personal identification". 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  22. "Council of the European Union - PRADO - FIN-AO-05002 - <Outside front cover>".
  23. "Il Rilascio". Retrieved 2014-08-29.
  24. "Passaporto per i minori". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  25. "Ministero degli Affari Esteri - Documenti di Viaggio - Passaporto". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  26. "PMLP - pr2".
  27. DELFI (29 January 2015). "Jaunā parauga Latvijas pilsoņu pases dizainu izstrādājuši PMLP speciālisti un vācu dizaineri".
  28. Tarieven reisdocumenten 2018
  29. "Paspoort wordt 10 jaar geldig". 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  30. "taxe pasapoarte".
  31. 1 2 3 "Passport fees - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  32. 1 2 "Get an emergency travel document - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  33. "Emergency travel document (ETD)". EUR-Lex. European Union. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
  34. Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 158/2007 of 7 December 2007 amending Annex V (Free movement of workers) and Annex VIII (Right of establishment) to the EEA Agreement, EUR-Lex. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
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