(CNN) — Most likely, you only have one passport, maybe two if you have dual citizenship.
But if you find yourself in a certain occupation – diplomat, investigative, or even president – you may have documentation in your hands that is completely inaccessible to the masses.
These are some of the less common passports and travel tickets in the world.
What’s that? Diplomatic passports are issued to government diplomats and consuls stationed abroad.
For example, the United States agent in France, Brian Aggeler, has a diplomatic passport, as does the French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Tienne.
What are the benefits? Often visa requirements are removed to ensure a smooth journey. British diplomatic passport holders, for example, get visa-free entry to China.
Diplomats also often enjoy diplomatic immunity (note: this does not confer full powers to commit crimes abroad). Relatives of diplomats are sometimes also able to obtain diplomatic passports.
Any other? In the UK, there is a very special type of diplomatic passport, stamped with the Queen’s Messenger Service (QMS) stamp.
This is an elite group of couriers who have been delivering classified diplomatic materials for about 800 years.
Meanwhile, there was controversy surrounding Canada’s diplomatic passports in 2017 when it was revealed the country might be handing out too many.
Passports of the President and Prime Minister
What’s that? To have the highest form of passport, you must be president or prime minister. This is a unique variant of the diplomatic passport; The president of the United States has even been branded his profession.
What are the benefits? Again, hard to pinpoint.
When we asked the UK Home Office about the benefits of Boris Johnson’s passport, he told us: “We don’t comment on individual cases.”
However, VIP carriers may not have to carry their passports with them; They also don’t have to queue at customs; another official will take care of it. Another bonus: The President and Prime Minister don’t pay for their own passports.
Any other? In 2015, an unmitigated mistake saw an Australian immigration official inadvertently email personal details, including passport numbers, Obama, Merkel, Putin and others to the organizers of the Asian Cup football tournament.
At least the culprit has his own identity protected; a press release from the Australian Department of Immigration reads: “[Editado] can’t verify that the autocomplete function in Microsoft Outlook has entered the correct person details in the ‘To’ field of the email. “Oops.
What’s that? Official passports (as they are called in the US and UK) or special passports (as they are known in Canada) issued to senators, legislators, military officers, and various other government employees who are not strictly diplomatic but need to travel to overseas posts, or on an official mission.
What are the benefits? On paper, this passport does not offer any particular special benefits. As the Canadian government explains: “A legal passport is not designed to confer any advantage on its holder.”
But while the official offices we spoke to didn’t discuss the benefits, it seems certain official passports offer stellar treatment; a person on a US visa, for example, is exempt from paying the visa fee.
Any other? Just as they can be issued, official passports can be revoked. In August 2021, 14 official passports belonging to Turkish Cypriot officials were reportedly withdrawn following a dispute over the reopening of the former tourist hotspot, Varosha.
Interpol travel documents
What’s that? Issued exclusively to agency employees, Interpol travel documents are available in two formats: electronic passport book and electronic identity card (Electronic Identification Card).
Both are equipped with high-tech integrated circuits that contain personal information such as fingerprints and photos that are identical to those printed on the document itself.
What are the benefits? Travel documents came into existence after the 79th Interpol General Assembly in 2010. Chasing criminals around the world is no easy task, and Interpol travel documents are designed to cut red tape by eliminating various visa requirements and speeding up difficult chase situations.
Any other? While we know that the agency has around 1,000 employees, it’s not clear how many have Interpol travel documents.
In recent years, several articles have debunked myths about Interpol agents investigating the world, breaking down doors and catching bad guys. Most of the work is administrative in nature. And as for Interpol’s red circular: it’s not actually an arrest warrant.
United Nations Laissez-Passer (UNLP)
What’s that? Members of the United Nations, International Labor Organization, World Health Organization and several other organizations can obtain this document, which was first released in 1946 and became electronic in 2012.
There are two types of UNLP: blue and red laissez-passers (for higher ranking members).
What are the benefits? The United Nations claims that red UNLP holders may receive “diplomatic privileges and diplomatic immunities and facilities when traveling on UN business.”
In some countries, that includes a visa waiver. Unlike many of the other passports on this list, UNLP does not officially replace the national passport, but rather complements it. The United Nations instructs: “Both documents must always … be carried together on official journeys.”
Any other? The expression “laissez-passer” translates to “let go.” The term may have been used shortly after the Safe Conduct Act of 1414, in which Henry V made high treason for his international counterpart to break a promise to allow someone to travel freely through his country.
Documents called laissez-passers were also used during World War I to ensure safe passage for refugees from war-torn areas.
When you don’t have to carry a passport
While most members of the royal family still need a passport to travel, the reigning monarch can be exempted.
We know for a fact that Queen Elizabeth II does not have a passport, because, as the official website of the British royal family puts it: “Since a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen does not need to have one.”.
What about whales?
As ruler of Vatican City, the pope has a special passport from the Holy See.
But in 2014, shortly after being elected, Pope Francis took the unusual step of renewing his identity card and passport, identifying himself as an average Argentine, with no privileges.
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