Secure travel document
The “laissez-passer” is a secure e-travel document issued by the European Union for its representatives and staff members with an international outreach as well as their family members under certain conditions. It is recognised as a valid travel document by Member States. It can also be recognised by third countries, through the necessary agreements, for border crossing and within their territory.
Its form was upgraded in 2015 to achieve enhanced international and European security standards. The EU laissez-passer integrates the same security standards and technical specifications applicable to EU national travel documents. It is not only machine readable on the MRZ of the data page, but also carries a contactless chip, which bears the photo and 2 fingerprints of the holder as biometric features. It contributes to ensuring a proper level of protection against forgery, counterfeiting and falsification
Council Regulation (EU) No 1417/2013 of 17 December 2013 defines the form of the laissez-passer issued by the European Union and has extended the scope of applicants by adding new categories of so-called “Special applicants”. It repeals Regulation (ECSC, EEC, Euratom) No 1826/69 with effect from 25 November 2015. The Staff Regulations (Article 23 paragraph 3) and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants (Articles 11 and Article 81) foresee the list of eligible applicants. In addition, Annex II of Council Regulation (EU) No 1417/2013 defines the terms and conditions applicable to the new category of special applicants.
Information on the holder's function
The EU laissez-passer allows extra information in the “Function” section on page 4. This specifies the representative function of the holder when posted in a delegation or travelling abroad for service reasons. It is also used to specify if the laissez-passer was issued as a temporary laissez-passer or to a family member. This potential additional information is always in English and in the official EU language(s) of the holder or of the original holder it refers to (for special applicants not EU citizens). The list below indicates the current possible functions (English version) that can appear:
- Minister Counsellor
- First Counsellor
- First Secretary
- Second Secretary
- Third Secretary
- Assistant Attaché
- Defence Attaché
- Administrative and Technical Staff
- Head of the European Commission Representation
- Euratom Inspector
- Auditor of the European Court of Auditors
- Close Protection Officer
- Family member
- Temporary laissez-passer
Immigration and border control
National authorities can verify the authenticity and the characteristics of the laissez-passer issued by the European Union by consulting the Public Register of Authentic travel and identity Documents Online – PRADO. It is also registered in the False and Authentic Documents Online system (FADO), available to EU Member States to aid the combatting of irregular migration and the use of fraudulent documents.
Airline companies and travel agencies should consult the IATA Timatic database to verify the acceptance of the laissez-passer issued by the European Union and the visa conditions requested by the country of destination of their passengers using it for their trips.
The European Union has signed several international agreements with third countries regarding the recognition of the laissez-passer and the visa requirements for its holder. Please consult the Official Journal of the European Union for agreements like the one on short stay visa waiver with the People’s Republic of China.
The European Commission is running a central service on behalf of all EU issuing institutions to enrol, personalise and deliver the EU laissez-passer. An applicant should contact its institution for further details on how to apply. The EU LP central service of the European Commission manages the full lifecycle of the issuance process, up to destruction of the document. It can be reached via the Duty Office of the Commission (see contact details below).
EUE Public Key Infrastructure
The Joint Research Center (JRC) located in Ispra (Italy) operates the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) sustaining the issuance process of the EU laissez-passer. It runs the infrastructure needed as certification authority for the authentic EUE digital certificates used to electronically sign the data stored on the chip of the document. It is also operating the infrastructure necessary for the certification authority that permits extended access control by a passport reader when inspecting the document at border control. Visit the EU Laissez-Passer Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) site for more information about EU LP PKI including contact details.
In case of emergency or for immediate support only, a holder of a laissez-passer issued by the European Union can always contact the Duty Office of the Commission (available 24h/24 and 7d/7) at:
- Tel: +32 2 29 22222
- Email:ec-securityec [dot] europa [dot] eu (EC SECURITY)
New look in 2022
After 6 years in circulation, which is also the maximum validity time of this document, a new design was created to keep ahead of counterfeiters. The overall themes selected are “Connectivity” and “Space and universe elements”, specially focusing on EU Galileo and Copernicus programmes. During the COVID period, the stakeholders from the EU Commission (DG HR Directorate Security, DG DEFIS, OIB) and from the Contractor for the production and personalisation of the EU laissez-passer (Austrian State Printing House) created the new layout inspired by satellites, their orbits, and data transmission flows for connecting the world. These themes were turned into security features, using special inks and different printing methods.
The new design is in circulation since July 2022 and specimen kits are available for government authorities, border officials, airlines, and travel management companies.
EU is member of ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD)
Electronic passports, like the laissez-passer, add a layer of security to traditional non electronic passports by embedding an electronic chip in the passport booklet that stores the biographical information visible on page 2, as well as a digital security feature. This digital security feature is a country specific "digital signature." These digital signatures are unique to each issuing state/organisation and can be verified using their respective certificates.
For a digital signature to be an effective and efficient security feature, countries must exchange their respective certificates with each other.
As such, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) created a system to facilitate the sharing of information between States: the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD). The ICAO PKD is a centralized directory that offers an independent, organized, secure and cost-effective online source for up-to-date information.
The European Union became member of ICAO PKD on 7 November 2017. Authorized members of the ICAO PKD will find in this directory the official certificates and master lists for the Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) “EUE” (three-letter code for European Union).
Since the introduction of the new EU laissez-passer in November 2015 , the Commission has issued its 5.000th laissez-passer in August 2016 and its 10.000th in September 2019.
10,000th laissez-passer owner Agata Malczewska (centre, DG TRADE), with Fernanda Serra from PMO (left) and Maresa Meissl from HR.DS.