Tourist passport exemption expires soon for official travel to Germany, Japan and South Korea

A waiver allowing Tourist Passport holders to board Patriot Express flights for a permanent change of station to Germany, Japan, or South Korea ends March 31, 2022. (Department of Defense)

Special passports will soon be the only option for civilians and Department of Defense dependents boarding Patriot Express flights to Germany, Japan and South Korea.

A waiver allowing tourist passport holders to take government-contracted air service for a permanent change of station, or PCS, ends March 31, according to an update last year from the DOD’s Foreign Clearance Guide. . After that, free official passports will be required.

Active duty personnel can still board flights without a passport and enter these countries with only their military ID and travel orders.

Blue-covered tourist passports had for years been acceptable for PCS travel by military family members. Official passports, which fall under the special insurance category, have also been an option for DOD civilians, their family members, and contractors.

To obtain a waiver, a no-cost passport application must be submitted to the applicant’s base passport office, according to Lisa Williams, passport officer at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

The change came largely because of the coronavirus pandemic, Air Mobility Command spokeswoman Lindsey Wilkinson recently wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. The DOD has twice delayed the deadline to end the tourist passport exemption, first in June and again in September, to alleviate travel delays and give the department more time to make the change.

Dependents traveling by commercial airlines may also face difficulty without an official passport or waiver, said Brittany Nelson, spokeswoman for the Army Installation Management Command.

“Dependents may be denied airline service or experience other travel delays if they are identified as traveling on official government travel for a PCS without having the proper travel documentation,” she said. to Stars and Stripes via email on January 14.

If dependents enter Germany, Japan or South Korea with a blue tourist passport and without a waiver, they face deportation after 90 days, Williams said.

“The passports you buy will allow you to stay in the country for 90 days, and after 90 days the country has the option of telling you to leave at your expense,” she told Stars and Stripes by phone on Tuesday. January 8. -the paid passport will allow you to stay in the country for the duration of the mission.

The no-fee passport requirement is expected to result in a high volume of applications at base passport offices during peak PCS season from May to August, according to a legal services representative at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

“What we see from our office when we send it, because it has to be sent back to the United States until it gets to us, it takes about four weeks,” Catherine Clawges recently told Stars and Stripes per phone.

Passport processing times vary by location, according to the Pentagon-based Security and Information Management Programs branch of the Marine Corps. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks for issuance of their passport free of charge.

Military dependents who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible for a special passport, Williams added.

“Dependents should have a passport from their country of birth,” she said.

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Jonathan Snyder

Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an air combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.



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