Understanding Passport types & SOFA in Germany

By Marion E. Bruce
USAG Stuttgart Passport and SOFA Office

Welcome to Stuttgart, Germany and Europe! This is a fun place to travel as long as you have the proper documents.

There are several types of passports: 

Red Official Passports: The red (brown/burgundy/maroon) passports. Government civilians and their dependents are entitled to red official passports with SOFA stamps or cards for Germany because they are assigned overseas. These are designed for travel to and from the U.S. and Germany, hold the proof of SOFA, and must be shown upon exit from and entry to Germany. Trips to the US must be accomplished on these passports; that is their purpose.

Uniformed personnel may need a red official based on current duties. If your command determines that you need an official passport for TDY/TAD, it will provide you with a Memorandum of Justification and a DD-1056 authorizing you to apply. Being assigned to Germany is not justification for an official passport. Service members may enter and exit Germany on their ID card and orders.

Blue No-Fee passports: Official passports are for active duty dependents on accompanied orders. They are designed for travel to and from the U.S. and Germany, hold the proof of SOFA, and must be shown upon exit from and entry to Germany. These look like tourist passports for the safety of the dependents but are actually official passports with an endorsement in the back. Trips to the U.S. must be done using these passports; that is its purpose.

Blue Tourist Passport: Everyone needs a blue tourist passport to visit any country other than the US and Germany for leisure. If you are a government civilian or a dependent (of either civilian or uniformed sponsor) and you have two passports, you must carry both of them when on leisure travel. Show the tourist passport to the country or countries that you are visiting (plane, train, hotel, border control, etc.) and the official or no-fee with proof of SOFA when leaving Germany and upon re-entering Germany. If you are a service member, you will carry the tourist passport and a copy of your orders assigning you to Germany.

If you apply for a passport in Stuttgart: Average processing times are 3-5 weeks for a tourist, 6-8 weeks for an official/no-fee/diplomatic and 6-12 weeks for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and newborn first passport.

If you are expecting: Be aware that children born overseas are not automatically U.S. citizens. Parents need to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and a first passport for the baby. Your newborn will not have a passport for up to three months after you apply. Do not plan any leisure travel during this time.

SOFA Stamps/Cards

Check official and no-fee passports of civilians and dependents for the SOFA stamp. If your family has stamps, then there is no need to see the Passport Office during in processing. We are an optional station. The stamp looks like a VISA in German, French, and English. It is not the endorsement in the back. If in doubt, come to the Passport and SOFA Office and show us.

If a dependent or civilian has no SOFA stamp placed in their official or no-fee passport when it was produced by Department of State, or has only a tourist passport or foreign passport, then they will need a SOFA card. These are the requirements to bring to the passport office: A completed AE 600-77A, SOFA request form, from the verifying official in your agency. The form must be signed and dated within the last 90 days and must have the verifying official’s original and/or digital signature which can be verified by a signature card (DD 577) on file in the Passport/SOFA office. One adult must come in with all valid passports for the family when applying, as well as their own CAC or dependent ID card, and ID cards for children 19 and over.

Personnel here get no special treatment for being overseas or in government service. Tourist passports cannot be expedited from overseas. Passports are renewable a full year before expiration. Plan to renew about 8-9 months prior to expiration. European Union countries require you to have six months left on your passport to enter. Cruise ships require you to have six months remaining on a tourist passport to board.

The Departments of State and Defense have an agreement that personnel and family members located in the Stuttgart military community must use the garrison passport office for their passport needs. Do not try to book an appointment directly with the consulate.

Most times all your passports will be copied by the military passport agent, copies will be stamped “Originally Seen” by that agent and submitted as proof of possession, and you can continue to travel  if your passport is still valid while your application is being processed. After the new passport is received by the Passport Office and you have determined it is correct, then we will cancel the passport that you are replacing. Original documents will need to be submitted with lost/stolen/mutilated applications, name changes, first passport applications including newborns, and any applications submitted to the Frankfurt Consulate instead of mailed to the U.S.

Emergency services are provided by the Frankfurt Consulate but must be arranged by the Stuttgart Passport Office. The agent will complete your application, witness your signature, seal the package, and contact the consulate to obtain a drop-off appointment for you, before you may go there to ask for an emergency passport.


Visit the passport page of the garrison website at https://home.army.mil/stuttgart for instructions and checklists for each type of application or email usarmy.stuttgart.id-europe.mbx.usag-stuttgart-passport@mail.mil.

Note: Due to high customer volume, we cannot always answer the phone, however all emails will be answered within two working days. Appointments are required for tourist passport applications and Reports of Birth Abroad using the Rapids online appointment system, linked in on the garrison website or USAG Stuttgart mobile app.

SOFA is a walk-in service; do not make an appointment for SOFA cards. Active duty with mission needing an official passport may walk-in or make an appointment.

The Stuttgart Passport and SOFA Office hours of operation are Mon., Tue., Thur., and Fri.: 8:30 a.m. – noon and 1-4 p.m. It’s closed at lunch, for U.S. holidays, and on Wednesdays. Stop by the office in Bldg. 2915 on Panzer Kaserne during customer service hours for more information or send an email to usarmy.stuttgart.id-europe.mbx.usag-stuttgart-passport@mail.mil.