diplomatic passport

I have a friend who is an american soldier in afghanistan at the moment and he wants to come to australia to see me he told me he has a diplomatic passport would that be correct??does he need to apply for a visa as well??? I would appreciate your help

I am just chiming in to make sure that your friend confirms he can enter Australia on whatever passport he has and if he needs a visa?

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Americans don’t need a visa to Australia like I did once. Nowadays, you can apply on line and the last time I did it the approval was instantaneous. But you still needed the visa.

Well, according to the Wikipedia:

Diplomatic passports are issued “to diplomats for work-related travel, and to accompanying dependents. […] Also, having a diplomatic passport does not mean visa-free travel. A holder of a diplomatic passport usually has to obtain a diplomatic visa, even if a holder of an ordinary passport may enter a country visa-free or may obtain a visa on arrival.”

My guess is that your friend probably can’t use a diplomatic passport for what you want to do, but I may very well be wrong. He will probably have to get a regular passport for regular travel. Also, according to this citation, the visa requirements for diplomatic passports appear to be more stringent than they would otherwise be.

Also, according to this web site (http://www.dfat.gov.au/protocol/protocol_guidelines/04.html#421), it is the government who applies for a diplomatic visa on behalf of diplomatic personnel.

So, on the whole, I think your friend’s diplomatic passport isn’t going to be all that helpful for him. If you are mistaken about the diplomatic passport, and he only has a regualr passport, in order to visit Australia, he will still need a visa, which can be done online.

Probably not. A diplomatic passport (black cover) is issued to ambassadors, embassy staffers(IIRC) and their immediate families. Your friend most likely has an official passport (maroon cover), which is issued to government employees travelling on official business including members of the military. Most miltary members travel overseas using their military ID and a copy of their orders due to existing agreements between the US and the respective country. Depending on the agreement or when no such agreement is in place, military members can be issued an official passport for entry/exit.

The key phrase is “official business”. If your friend is planning on visiting you while on leave, he shouldn’t travel using an official passport. He’ll need to go to the embassy to apply for a regular passport (blue cover).

Many embassies have various military types attached to them. If his friend is a Marine Security Guard or is part of the Defense Attache Office (DAO), he could very well have a dip passport. All that aside, if the country requires a visa for entry, a dip passport will NOT get you around that.

Chefguy, who carried a dip passport for nearly 12 years.

American soldiers carry official passports. They are black and have the word ‘Official’ on the cover. Diplomatic passports are much rarer, purple (I think) with ‘Diplomatic.’

The official passport is nothing special. A diplomat is (when invited into a country) protected by the Vienna Conventions.

Another important factor about diplomats and their special status under the Vienna Convention (PDF) (and customary international law) is that the privileges, in principle, apply only in the receiving state, i.e., the state the diplomat has been sent to. They don’t apply in other countries (with the exception of third countries which the diplomat has to travel through in order to get to his receiving state or back home - article 40 of the Convention). So if your friend is an American diplomat to Afghanistan, his special status won’t protect him in Australia.

But, as others have said, it’s very likely that your friend is not a diplomat at all.

He could have either a black Diplomatic or a red (really maroon) Official. Visa requirements may be different for the two.
If he is on official leave (R&R or EML, where the gov’t pays for travel from his duty station to the place he starts his leave, then the gov’t should get his visa for him (and pay for it if necessary) and he can use his official or dip passport. If the leave is completely on his dime, he should probably use his blue personal passport but some people just use their official or dip passport. (It is true that there are places a U.S. service member can travel with just her ID card and no passport but I would always carry at least one passport.)
If I recall correctly, the last time I visited Australia, it was on some kind of gov’t sponsored travel (some variety of R&R - I was stationed with my family overseas) and both my 8-year-old daughter and I traveled on our black dip passports with visas we had obtained before leaving home.

Official Passports are maroon, diplomatic passports are black, regular (aka tourist) passports are blue.

Missed the edit window: IIRC, even if someone is present in one country as a diplomat (with diplomatic passport) or on official business (with official passport), the other country to which that person wishes to travel on non-diplomatic/non-official business may require that the person not use the diplomatic or official passport for leisure travel.

It won’t even protect him in Afghanistan. The only person who really has diplomatic immunity is the ambassador and maybe the DCM. While everyone else attached to the mission has a dip passport, they do not enjoy the same immunities as the ambassador, and can be subject to prosecution under local laws. Generally, as long as a capital crime hasn’t been committed, the host country will just expel the diplomat without prosecution; but that’s not because of any immunity, but rather because any action taken against a diplomat will be returned in spades by the DOS.

Under the Vienna Convention, immunity from criminal prosecution applies to any “diplomatic agent” (defined as either the head of mission or member of diplomatic staff) and household family members. Non-diplomatic staff at the mission have functional immunity, so they cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed in the course of their duties.

Local application of the convention may vary, of course.

This is, to sum it up, not true, as ruadh has already pointed out and as a look into the text of the Convention shows. It’s true that the Convention does grant certain rights to heads of missions which other diplomatic agents do not enjoy; this goes, e.g., for the tax privileges under article 23. There is also a controversy as to whether a diplomatic agent who’s not a head of mission can waive immunities, or whether only the head of mission can waive the immunity of the other agents. But what is commonly known as “diplomatic immunity”, the exemption from arrest or detention under article 29, extends to all “diplomatic agents” and not just to the head of mission.

That’s the ratione personae immunity of diplomats which applies regardless of the capacity in which they were acting. In addition to that, any official of one state (not just non-diplomatic staff members of a mission) have functional immunity ratione materiae which protects them from prosecution for acts performed in an official capacity (that’s not governed by the Vienna Convention but by customary international law). Of course, the question which acts are official and which aren’T may be hard to determine at times.

All I can tell you is that we were specifically cautioned that we were in those countries at the forbearance of the host governments, and that while we enjoyed certain privileges, the local governments would only look the other way up to a point. While the Vienna Convention contains the articles mentioned, actions on the ground may not always mirror the written word.