The Foreign Service Journal, March 2020

58 MARCH 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS Guidance on the Use of Diplomatic Passports Diplomatic Security has been increasingly focusing on the use of diplomatic passports (DP). AFSA is seeing an increasing number of Foreign Service employees under investigation for possible misuse of their diplomatic passports. To ensure that our members understand the rel- evant rules for DPs, AFSA has issued the following guidance. General Diplomatic passports carry the same message from the Secretary of State as do any other passports, i.e., that their bearers be permitted “to pass without delay or hindrance” and be given “all lawful aid and protection.” However, they also announce that their bearers are abroad on diplomatic assignment with the U.S. government. While traveling abroad with such passports, diplomatic passport holders not only have a special obli- gation to respect the laws of the country in which they are present, but they must abide by U.S. government and agency-specific standards of conduct. In addition to reviewing the guidance here, we sug- gest all DP holders review the following material: • 8 FAM 503.2, Travel with Special Issuance Passports (updated 6/27/2018) • 18 STATE 6032, Proper Use of Special Issuance Passports (1/19/2018) • 12 STATE 12866, Official and Diplomatic Passports—Notice to Bearers (2/11/2012) Diplomatic Passport Terms of Use • DPs may be used only while their holders are in positions that require such documents, i.e., during official business travel. • A DP attests that the bearer is traveling on diplo- matic/official business for the U.S. government or is an accompanying family mem- ber of such a person. • DPs are authorized for any travel on government orders. For example, DPs may be used for R&R or medevac travel. • TDY travel should be conducted with DPs and any required visas. We advise DP holders to check with the post in question regarding requirements for entry. • DP holders should prac- tice carrying both regular and diplomatic passports while on travel. • DPs must be used when entering and exiting the holder’s country of assign- ment abroad and returning to the U.S. from the country of assignment. Regular (tourist) passports must be used for all personal travel. • For all travel, we strongly advise carrying both diplo- matic and regular passports and complying with instruc- tions of local immigration authorities, even if those instructions are not necessar- ily in compli- ance with this guidance. If this or any other unusual situation occurs involving the use of diplomatic passports, please document the event for your records. Some Examples • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A is taking a personal trip with family to Country B. The U.S. diplomat, and accompanying family members, must use the DPs for entering/exiting Country A. However, they must use their personal passports (“blue book”) for entering/ exiting Country B. Whichever type of passport is used to enter a country must be used to exit that country. • U.S. diplomat has completed a tour in Country A and is returning to the U.S. with his/her family. The U.S. diplomat and accompanying family members will use their DPs for leaving Country A and entering the United States. • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A has an official meeting in Country B and then will travel to Country C for tourism. The U.S. diplo- mat must use the DP to exit Country A and enter and exit Country B. However, the diplomat must use a personal passport to enter and exit Country C. The DP will be used to re-enter Country A. What DPs Do Not Do They do not: • Confer diplomatic immunity. • Exempt the bearer from foreign laws. • Allow the bearer to carry classified or sensitive mate- rial across borders. • Allow the bearer to avoid questions from foreign immi- gration or bypass security. • Protect their holders from arrest, hazards of war, criminal violence or terror- ism. Final Notes • DPs may subject their bearers to increased scrutiny by foreign governments and other entities. • Misuse of DPs may be investigated and prosecuted as a violation per 18 U.S.C. 1544. • Employees who are found to have misused DPs may also be subject to disci- plinary action. • Many countries have visa requirements for DPs that exceed those for regular passports. • Taiwan: All travel to Taiwan by executive branch personnel must be with a regular passport. In addition, executive branch personnel who plan to travel to Taiwan for official purposes must have prior concurrence from the Office of Taiwan Coordi- nation: (202) 647-7711. n