Diplomatic and Official Passports

Definition:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic Passport Official Passport Diplomatic and Official passports are issued only to people conducting diplomatic and official government business, and are restricted to people in specific categories and roles.

Diplomatic and Official passports are issued to facilitate the travel of people who are employed by or acting on behalf of the Australian government.

Diplomatic and Official passports, in themselves, do not confer on the holder any special privileges or rights. Individual countries may confer, at their discretion, certain rights to holders of Diplomatic and Official passports.

Entitlement:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic and Official passports can be issued only to Australian citizens listed in the ministerial guidelines (see ‘ Ministerial Guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic & Official Passport ’) and whose application form is supported by a letter from the sponsoring authority (Letter 14).

The publication ‘Australian Diplomatic and Official Passports - Guidelines for Sponsoring Authorities’ (Annex 6) provides guidance to sponsoring agencies on the issue, use and management of Diplomatic and Official passports. Information in this publication should not however override the ministerial guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic and Official passport. See also ‘ Responsibilities of the sponsoring authority:Diplomatic & Official Passport ’.

Child entitlement: Diplomatic & Official passport

A child cannot be issued with a Diplomatic or Official passport except in rare circumstances where a serving member of the Australian defence forces may be a minor and qualify for the issue of an Official passport.

Accreditation:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic passport holders who are posted to an Australian diplomatic mission must be recognised by the host country as a member of the diplomatic staff of the Australian mission before being afforded the rights and privileges as set out in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR). Under the VCDR third countries are also required to ensure that people accredited to diplomatic missions in other countries can travel freely through their country.

Official passport holders who are posted to an Australian diplomatic or consular mission must be recognised by the host country as a member of the consular staff of the Australian mission before being afforded the rights and privileges as set out in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). The VCCR also requires third countries to afford people accredited to consular missions in other countries certain rights to enable them to travel freely through their country.

Inappropriate use:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic and Official passports are subject to cancellation without notice if used for purposes outside those provisions relevant to the holder as listed in the ‘ Ministerial Guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic & Official Passport ’.

Disciplinary action under the conduct guidelines of the relevant sponsoring authority may also be taken against people who use these passports contrary to the reason of issue.

Responsibilities of the holder:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic and Official passports are valuable documents and must be treated accordingly.

The holder of a Diplomatic or Official passport must:

Holders of Diplomatic and Official passports are liable to the provisions of the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 45, and Minister’s Determinations which impose additional fees and restrictions on replacement document issue to holders who lose their Diplomatic or Official passport or have it stolen. Serious cases, including where multiple travel documents have been reported lost or stolen will be reported to the Senior Executive of the sponsoring authority along with any proposed course of action on issuing a replacement travel document.

Responsibilities of the sponsoring authority:Diplomatic & Official Passport

The authority which sponsored the issue of a Diplomatic or Official passport is responsible for ensuring that:

The publication ‘Australian Diplomatic and Official Passports - Guidelines for Sponsoring Authorities’ (Annex 6) provides guidance to sponsoring authorities on the issue, use and management of Diplomatic and Official passports. Information in this publication should not however override the ministerial guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic and Official passport, see ‘ Ministerial Guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic & Official Passport ’.

Applying for a Diplomatic & Official Passport

People applying for a Diplomatic or Official passport may either use:

Note: Applications for a Diplomatic or Official passport can only be lodged at a passport office or overseas mission.

Validity:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic and Official passports must be limited in validity according to the specific time, purpose of mission/travel or duration of status and function of bearer outlined for each eligible person in the Ministerial Guidelines (see ‘ Diplomatic passports: ministerial guidelines ’ and ‘ Official passports: ministerial guidelines ’).

Application fees will not be affected by the validity period and the validity cannot be extended.

Ministerial Guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic & Official Passport

Issuing Diplomatic and Official passports

Any application for a Diplomatic or Official passport for any person outside the standard categories as listed in the tables below requires special approval and must be referred to Canberra for consideration.

Unless otherwise mentioned, the passport is only to be used for official travel. Official travel means travel, the prime purpose of which directly relates to the carrying on of Government business and that business is not related to a competitive commercial activity, whether or not the commercial competitiveness includes other Australian or overseas enterprises.

See ‘ Diplomatic passports: ministerial guidelines ’ and ‘ Official passports: ministerial guidelines ’.

Diplomatic passports: ministerial guidelines

Position of Applicant

Status of Bearer
(bearer is …)

Validity

Purpose

Governor-General

Governor-General of Australia

5 years

All travel

Former Governors-General and their spouses

(as stated)

10 years

All travel

Prime Minister

Prime Minister of Australia

5 years

All travel

Former Prime Ministers and their spouses

(as stated)

10 years

All travel

President of the Senate

President of the Senate of the Parliament of Australia

6 years plus 6 months

All travel

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia

5 years

All travel

Commonwealth Government Ministers

Minister for (Portfolio) of the Government of Australia

5 years

All travel

Presiding Officers (States, NT, ACT and Norfolk Island Parliament)

(position given)

4 years plus 6 months

All travel

Leader of the Opposition

Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia

5 years

All travel

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia

5 years

All travel

Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretaries

(position given)

5 years

All travel

Chief Justice and Justices of the High Court of Australia, Chief Judge of the Federal Court of Australia and of the Family Court

(Position given) of the High/Federal/ Family Court

10 years

All travel

Chief Justices of State or Territory Supreme Courts

Chief Justice in the Supreme Court of (State or Territory)

10 years

Official travel only

Chief of the Defence Force and Chiefs of the Naval, the General and the Air Staffs

(position given) Department of Defence

5 years

Official travel only

Secretaries of Commonwealth Departments

(position given—e.g. Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Director-General of Health)

5 years

Official travel only

Public Service Commissioner Public Service & Merit Protection Commission

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Australian Government Solicitor

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Director-General, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Governor of the Reserve Bank

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Director-General, Office of National Assessments

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Director, Defence Intelligence Organisation

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Director-General, Australian Secret Intelligence Service

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Commissioner, Australian Federal Police

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Chair, National Crime Authority

(position given)

5 years

Official travel only

Ambassador

Australian Ambassador to (country) (full title)

5 years*

All travel during appointment

High Commissioner

Australian High Commissioner in (country) (full title)

5 years*

All travel during appointment

Consul-General (Consul if Head of Post)

Australian Consul-General/Consul in (city or country) (full title)

5 years*

All travel during appointment

Head of Post – Australian Representatives in Taipei (not to other officers at post)

Observation shall make no reference to Taiwan

5 years*

All official travel to and from locations other than Taiwan

Austrade Executive General Managers attached to an Australian diplomatic mission

Position Designation (see ‘Standard formats for endorsement in passports’)

5 years*

All travel during appointment

Leader of Delegation or sole Australian representative at International Conference or Bilateral or Multilateral Negotiation

(as appropriate)

12 months

Official travel only

Member of the staff of any Commonwealth Department or Instrumentality assigned to a diplomatic post overseas and notified to the receiving country as holding a recognised diplomatic rank.

Position Designation (see ‘Standard formats for endorsement in passports’)

5 years*

All travel during posting

Diplomatic couriers

Diplomatic Courier of the Government of Australia

One 5-year passport, two 2-year passports

Official travel only

State Governors

Governor of the State of (State)

5 years

All travel

Administrators of Cocos (Keeling), Christmas and Norfolk Islands, Lieutenant Governors and former Governors of a State

Administrator of the Territory of (Territory) or Lieutenant Governor or former Governor of the State of (State)

5 years

All travel

State Premier or Territory Chief Minister

Premier of the State of (State) or Chief Minister of (Territory)

4 years plus 6 months

All travel

State or Territory Minister

Minister for (Portfolio) of the Government of (State or Territory)

4 years plus 6 months

All travel

Permanent Head of Premier’s or Chief Minister’s Department (when accompanying Premier or Chief Minister)

Permanent Head of the Premier’s or Chief Minister’s Department of the Government of (State or Territory)

4 years plus 6 months

Official travel only

Person in respect of whom the Minister for Foreign Affairs considers exceptional circumstances apply

(as approved)

As approved

As approved

Spouse of person granted Diplomatic Passport providing the fare is met from official funds

The spouse of (position)

As for spouse

All travel during spouse’s posting or assignment except for privately funded travel out of Australia

Same sex spouse of person granted Diplomatic Passport providing the fare is met from official funds

Member of the household of (position)

As for spouse

All travel during spouse’s posting or assignment except for privately funded travel out of Australia

Member of staff of a State Governor (one staff member only)

Accompanying the (as appropriate)

Period of travel

Official travel only

Executive Directors of International Financial Institutions

(position given)

Duration of appointment plus 6 months

All travel (unless specified in passport)

People acting on behalf of the Commonwealth travelling to locations where there are distinct operational or security factors requiring the use of a Diplomatic Passport#

Travelling on Government business

Duration of posting or assignment

All travel during posting or assignment

Official passports: ministerial guidelines

Position of Applicant

Status of Bearer
(bearer is …)

Validity

Purpose

Member of Parliament (Commonwealth)

Member of the (Senate / House of Representatives) in the Parliament of Australia

5 years

All travel

Member of Parliament (State or Territory)

Member of the Legislative Council / Assembly in the Parliament of (State / Territory)

4 years plus 6 months

All travel

Justices of State or Territory Supreme Courts, Justices of Federal Courts, or other State equivalent

(position given)

10 years (or expected retirement date)

All travel

Other Justices, Judges, Commissioners of the Industrial Relations Commission and Magistrates of any Federal, State or Territory Court

(position given)

10 years

Official travel only

Officers of Commonwealth Parliamentary and Departmental bodies (including those recognised in legislation) and their State and Territory equivalents

Travelling on Government business

Duration of assignment requiring official travel plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years#

Official travel only

Officers working for Prescribed Agencies under the FMA Act and the CAC Act and their State and Territory equivalents

Travelling on Government business

Duration of assignment requiring official travel plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years#

Official travel only

Officers who are attached to or posted to overseas diplomatic or consular missions

Travelling on Government business

5 years*

All travel

Spouses of Members of Parliament (Commonwealth)

Spouses of Members of the Senate/House of Representatives in the Parliament of Australia

As for spouse

For travel when accompanying Senators and Members of Parliament, at official expense

Spouses of Justices and Judges

The spouse of Justice or Judge

Period of travel when accompanying Justice or Judge at official expense plus 6 months

For travel when accompanying, Justice or Judge at official expense

Spouse (including same sex spouse) of officer on long-term posting

The spouse of (status shown in the officer’s passport)

Member of the household of (status appearing in spouse’s passport)

5 years*

Same as officer except for privately funded travel out of Australia

Spouse (including same sex spouse) of other Official passport holder

The spouse of an official travelling on Government business

Member of the household of an official travelling on Government business

Period of travel when accompanying official at official expense plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years

For travel accompanying official at official expense

Staff employed by the Prime Minister, Ministers, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition under the M.o.P (S) Act

Travelling on Government business

Duration of assignment requiring official travel plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years#

As approved

Chiefs of Staff of Premiers / Chief Ministers

Travelling on Government business

Duration of assignment requiring official travel plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years#

As approved

People representing the Commonwealth travelling to locations or on assignments where an Official passport is essential for the performance of the Government’s business

Travelling on Government business

Duration of assignment requiring official travel plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years#

As approved

Person in respect of whom the Minister for Foreign Affairs considers special circumstances apply

As approved

Duration of assignment plus 6 months. Maximum of 5 years

As approved

Issuing office:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Diplomatic passports are issued in Canberra, London or Washington. State Passport Offices can also issue Diplomatic passports; however this would normally be the exception.

Official passports are issued in London, Washington or at Passport Offices in Australia.

Overseas posts, except London and Washington, cannot issue Diplomatic or Official passports and will send all applications, together with the sponsorship letter to their respective Regional Eligibility Centre (REC). The REC will undertake the eligibility process, authorise the issue, personalise the document and return it to the originating post within ten working days if all the requirements have been met.

Priority Processing Fee:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Only applications lodged at a Passport Office in Australia or locally in London and Washington that meet all the requirements can be offered the priority processing service, see ‘ Priority Processing ’.

The requirements include:

Where an applicant needs to travel urgently and cannot wait for 10 working days to receive his/her replacement Diplomatic or Official passport, the overseas post may issue an Emergency passport under the same business rules and procedures outlined in ‘Emergency Passports’.

Spouse and dependents of Diplomatic & Official Passport holder

A Diplomatic or Official passport may be issued to the spouse of the bearer of a Diplomatic or Official passport and Ordinary passports may be issued to dependants (under or over 18 years) for whom a sponsoring authority has accepted a fare responsibility for the spouse and dependents.

The validity is to be the same as the passport issued to a person specified in the ‘ Ministerial Guidelines for the issue of a Diplomatic & Official Passport ’. A ‘Conditions for the Issue of a Diplomatic or Official Passport’ form (Attachment C in Annex 6) is not required with applications for Ordinary passports for dependants.

Passports issued to the family of the holder of a Diplomatic or Official passport are endorsed on the observation page: Bearer is the {spouse/dependant/member of the household} of the {position} at {mission}

A Diplomatic or Official passport issued to a same sex spouse is endorsed on the observation page: Bearer is a member of the household of {name} the {position} at {mission}

Concurrent Diplomatic & Official passports

Holders of Diplomatic and Official passports who require a second or concurrent Diplomatic or Official passport must satisfy all the requirements for a concurrent passport (see ‘ Concurrent Passports ), including provision of a completed supporting letter from the sponsoring authority, before a concurrent passport can be issued. The sponsoring authority is responsible for the payment of the fee.

The validity of a concurrent Diplomatic passport is to be restricted to cover the purpose of its issue.

Termination of holder’s official appointment/posting:Diplomatic & Official Passport

Termination of overseas appointment:Diplomatic & Official Passport

If the appointment of the holder of a Diplomatic or Official passport is terminated while the holder is overseas, or the officer resigns, the passport must be surrendered before the person leaves the post.

A gratis Ordinary passport (with a maximum validity of one year) may be issued on completion of the normal requirements.

After cancellation (i.e. physically and electronically), the Diplomatic or Official passport may be returned to the holder.

Completion of overseas posting:Diplomatic & Official Passport

At the completion of an overseas posting, if a Diplomatic or Official passport holder is proceeding on any period of long service leave or leave without pay, the Diplomatic or Official passport must be surrendered and, if necessary, an Ordinary passport purchased at the holder’s own expense.

Private passport in addition to Diplomatic & Official passport

The holder of a Diplomatic or Official passport is permitted to hold another valid private Australian passport while holding a Diplomatic or Official passport.

The other valid Australian travel document is normally an Ordinary passport acquired by meeting the full requirements for issue (including interview and guarantor requirements).

Diplomatic and Official passport holders are not required by the Australian Government to surrender any private passport that has been issued by a country other than Australia.

The normal fee is payable when applying for a Diplomatic or Official passport.