Passports of the European Union

EU member states' ordinary passport booklets have common design elements and all, except Croatia, have burgundy coloured covers.

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 burgundy-coloured covers (with the exception of Croatia) 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 his/her nationality by any other means (e.g. by presenting an expired passport or national identity card, or a citizenship certificate), he/she must be permitted to enter the EEA or Switzerland. An EU citizen who is unable to demonstrate his/her 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 the following aspects of the designs of their ordinary passport booklets:[1]

Overall format


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

First page

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

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 non-machine-readable zone of the passport, but are mapped according to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the machine-readable zone. For example, the German umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and the letter ß are mapped as AE / OE / UE and SS, so 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). German credit cards use in their non-machine-readable zone either the correct or the mapped spelling.

Some German names are always spelled with "old" spelling, such as the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or the Third-Reich politician Paul Joseph Goebbels; however, in the name of the German football player Ulrich Hoeneß, the umlaut is spelled "old", but the letter ß is not (the spelling in the machine-readable passport zone is HOENESS, the ß being mapped here).

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.

The Austrian passport can (but does not always) contain a note in German, English, and French that AE / OE/ UE / SS are the common mappings of Ä / Ö / Ü / ß.

Names originally written in a non-Latin writing system may pose another problem if there are various internationally recognized transcription standards. For example, the Russian surname Горбачёв is transcribed

The machine-readable zone contains the name transliterated in a standardized (English-based) way, defined by the standard for machine readable travel documents (ICAO 9303). Горбачёв would be written GORBACHEV.

Letters with accents are often replaced by simple letters (ç → C, ê → E, etc.), but for some letters mappings are common:
å → AA
ä, æ → AE
ij (capital letter: IJ )→ IJ
ö, ø, œ → OE
ü → UE (German) or UXX (Spanish)
ñ → N or sometimes NXX
ß → SS

The Icelandic letters ð and þ (non-EU, but EFTA passport) are mapped as DH (sometimes D) and TH, respectively.

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.[12] (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

Overview of passports issued by 28 Member States

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

Link to image

  • €75.90 (aged 12 or over)
  • €30.00 (aged 0–11)
  • Free (aged 0–2, first issue)
  • 10 years (aged 12 or over)
  • 5 years (aged 2–11)
  • 2 years (aged 0–2)
16 June 2006
Belgium Belgium

Link to image

  • €71 (adults; 32 pages; in Belgium)
  • €41 (children; 32 pages; in Belgium)
  • €240 (adults; 64 pages; in Belgium)
  • €210 (children; 64 pages; in Belgium)
  • €79 (adults; 32 pages; overseas)
  • €35 (children; 32 pages; overseas)
  • €240 (adults; 64 pages; overseas)
  • €210 (children; 64 pages; overseas)[13]
  • 7 years
  • Communes (in Belgium)
  • Belgian embassies and consulates (overseas)
1 February 2008
Bulgaria Bulgaria

Link to image

  • 40BGN / €20 (adults aged 14–58)
  • 20BGN / €10 (under 14)
  • 5 years

Ministry of Interior Affairs

29 March 2010
Croatia Croatia

  • 390 HRK (€52)
  • 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
Cyprus Cyprus
  • €70
  • 10 Years
  • Civil Registry and Migration Department, Ministry of the Interior;
    Embassies and High Commissions of the Republic of Cyprus
13 December 2010
Czech Republic Czech Republic[14]

  • CZK 600 (adults aged 15 or over)
  • CZK 100 (children under 15)
  • 10 years (adults aged 15 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 15)
  • the town hall of the applicant's place of permanent residence
  • abroad: consulates of the Czech Republic (except honorary consulates)
1 September 2006
Denmark Denmark

  • DKK 625 (adults aged 18 or over; 32 pages)
  • DKK 140 (children aged under 18; 32 pages)
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (children under 18)
1 January 2012
Estonia Estonia

Link to image

  • €28.76
  • 5 years
1 June 2014[15]
Finland Finland

  • €48[16]
  • €24 for veterans of Finnish wars
  • €48 temporary passport
  • €65 fast-track passport
  • €83 express passport
  • €80 emergency passport
  • €48 alien passport
21 August 2012
Åland Islands Åland Islands
  • 5 years
21 August 2012
France France

Link to image

  • 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
Germany Germany

  • €37.50 (applicants under 24; 32 pages)
  • €59 (aged 24 or over; 32 pages)
  • 10 years (aged 24 or over)
  • 6 years (applicants under 24)
Municipal registration office 11 November 2007
Greece Greece

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

  • 7500 HUF (5 years)
  • 14000 HUF (10 years)
  • 5 years
  • 10 years

Registration Office (Nyilvántartó Hivatal)

1 March 2012
Republic of Ireland Ireland

  • €80 (adults 18 or over)[18]
  • €26.50 (children 3-17)
  • €16 (children under 3)
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 3 or 5 years (children)
Consular and Passport Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs 3 October 2013
Italy Italy

Link to image

  • 10 years (adults aged 18 or over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 3–17)
  • 3 years (children under 3)[20]
Minister of Foreign Affairs through
  • Local quaestor (in Italy)
  • Consulates and embassies (abroad)[21]
20 May 2010
Latvia Latvia
  • €28.46 (applicants over 20)
  • €14.23 (pensioners, disabled and aged under 20)[22]
  • 10 years (adults aged 60 or over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 5–59)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
29 January 2015[23]
Lithuania Lithuania

Link to image

  • €48 adults
  • €24 children
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 5–15)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
27 January 2011
Luxembourg Luxembourg

Link to image

  • €30 (5-year passports)
  • €20 (2-year passports)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 4 or over)
  • 2 years (applicants under 4)
Passport Office, Luxembourg 1 July 2011
Malta Malta
  • €70-80 (applicants aged 16 and over; higher fee applies April to August)
  • €40 (applicants aged 10 to 15)
  • €16 (applicants under 4)
  • 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
Netherlands The Netherlands

  • €66,96 (maximum, all ages 34-page passport; individual municipalities determine the rate[24])
  • €84.88 (adults; 34 pages; overseas[25])
  • 10 years (applicants aged 18 and over)[26]
  • 5 years (applicants aged under 18)
  • Gemeente (Municipality)
9 March 2014
Poland Poland

Application made within Poland:
  • 140 zł (for applicants aged between 13 and 70)
  • 30 zł (for applicants aged under 13)

Application made through a Polish consulate:

  • €106 (applicants aged between 13 and 70)
  • €36 (applicants aged under 13)

In both cases:

  • free for applicants aged 70 and over
  • certain classes of applicants qualify for a 50% discount of a relevant fee
  • 10 years (applicants aged 13 and over)
  • 5 years (applicants aged under 13)
1 January 2006
Portugal Portugal

Link to image

Application made within Portugal:
  • €65 for normal issue (issued in 5 working days)
  • €85 for express issue (issued in 2 working days)
  • €95 for urgent issue (issued in 1 day)
  • €100 for urgent issue in Lisbon Airport (issued in the same day)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 5 or over)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
25 May 2009
Romania Romania

Link to image

  • 276 RON / ~€61 (5-year passports)
  • 116 RON / ~€26 (1-year passports)
  • 5 years (applicants aged 12 or over)
  • 3 years (applicants under 12)
  • 1-year (temporary passport)
Ministry of Administration and Interior (General Directorate for Passports) 26 April 2006
Slovakia Slovakia

  • €33/66/99 (16 or older up to 30/10/2 days processing time)
  • €13/26/39 (6-16 year olds up to 30/10/2 days)
  • €8/16/24 (6 or younger up to 30/12/2 days)
  • 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.
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 5–15)
  • 2 years (children under 5)
15 January 2008
Slovenia Slovenia

Link to image

  • €42,05 (adults 18 or over)
  • €35,25 (agend 3-17)
  • €31,17 (aged up to 3)[27][28]
  • Ministry of the Interior
28 August 2006
Spain Spain

Link to image

  • €26.02
  • 10 years (applicants over 30)
  • 5 years (applicants between 5 and 30)
  • 2 years (applicants under 5)
2 January 2015
Sweden Sweden

Link to image

Link to image

  • 350 SEK (in Sweden)
  • 1400 SEK (abroad, paid in local currency)
  • 5 years
  • Swedish Police Authority (in Sweden)
  • Swedish embassies and consulates (abroad)
2 January 2012
United Kingdom United Kingdom

  • £72.50 (adults; 32 pages)
  • £85.50 (adults; 48 pages)
  • £46 (children)
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 16)
December 2015
Gibraltar Gibraltar

Link to image

  • £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

Visa requirements for European Union citizens

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 2016 were as follows (sourced from Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2016):

By country

For details, click on the name of the country:

By rank

  • 01. Germany: 177
  • 02. Sweden: 176
  • 03. Finland, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom (British Citizen Passport): 175
  • 04. Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands: 174
  • 05. Austria: 173
  • 06. Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal: 172
  • 07. Greece: 171
  • 09. Malta: 168
  • 10. Czech Republic, Hungary: 167
  • 11. Slovakia: 165
  • 12. Slovenia: 164
  • 13. Latvia: 163
  • 14. Estonia, Lithuania: 162
  • 15. Poland: 161
  • 17. Cyprus: 159
  • 21. Bulgaria, Romania: 153
  • 24. Croatia: 149

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

For more details on this topic, see Citizenship of the European Union and Multiple citizenship.

Each EU and EFTA country 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 EEA or EFTA country can live and work in all other EU or 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,[29] meeting within the Council of 25 June 1996 on the establishment of an emergency travel document, 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.

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. "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.
  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 Border Force Operations Manual: Processing British and EEA Passengers without a valid Passport or Travel Document
  11. Airline 'ban' on long name (The Sun 22 Sep 2008)
  13. "Travel documents, website of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  14. "Service prices 2014". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  15. "Passport". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  16. Department of Foreign Affairs. "Passport Fees - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  17. "Il Rilascio". Retrieved 2014-08-29.
  18. "Passaporto per i minori". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  19. "Ministero degli Affari Esteri - Documenti di Viaggio - Passaporto". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  21. "Tarieven 2013". 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  22. "Paspoort en identiteitskaart voor Nederlanders in het buitenland". Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  23. "Paspoort wordt 10 jaar geldig". 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  24. Izdaja potnega lista
  25. Izdaja potnega lista za otroka
  26. "Emergency travel document (ETD)". EUR-Lex. European Union. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
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