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Can you travel without passport on military ID?

I am very, very worried. My son who is in Iraq and is supposed to meet me in Rome, hasn't received his passport in the mail yet, and has less than a week before he is due to fly to Kuwait to start his leave It's a long story, but his passport came here and I sent it to him April 4 by certified mail after making sure that mail was reaching him (within two weeks) at his new base. It's been almost three weeks and it hasn't yet arrived.
I did scan it before I, with trepidation, mailed it. The certified tracking number info says it left my post office the day I mailed it to an APO number, and nothing after that. My question is: can U.S. soldiers travel in Europe on their military ID's and travel orders? With no passport yet, he is going to explore his options (through command channels). For my own peace of mind, I just thought I'd throw this question out there to anyone who might have an answer.

Posted by
2876 posts

There should be a travel office at the base where he's stationed, which can help him out. Sounds like he's aware of that. When I was in the service, you needed a regular passport for personal or leisure travel. For official travel, you had a no-fee military passport. Don't know if that's changed; it's been a while. (I won't say how long.)

Posted by
46 posts

I've been trying to find out the answer to my question on the web, and it doesn't look good. He basically has five days before he's supposed to going on leave.
Unless his passport gets there, it doesn't sound good. His girlfriend may be in Paris by herself and me in Italy by myself. I worried about this happening, but didn't really think it would.

Posted by
864 posts

Did a sanity check with my son. You do indeed need orders in order to travel with only military I.D. Have your son talk to his military travel office.

Posted by
46 posts

My son was planning to fly from Paris (where he'll meet his girlfriend) to Rome (where I'll meet him), and then take a train to Venice ... lots of places where he could get stopped w/o a passport, it seems. He said mail had been slow, and is still hopeful about it coming. I had another thought, and maybe you can tell me whether this would be kosher or not. I scanned my son's passport and sent it to him by e-mail.
I know people who are traveling and have their passports lost/stolen can go to a U.S. Embassy can report it, and get a replacement within fairly short order, especially if they have a copy of their lost passport. Could my son go into an embassy (where ever the military flies him) and report his passport lost (as in lost in the mail) and get a replacement, using the copy of his passport to expediate the process?

Posted by
791 posts

Things may have changed since i got out but does he have a military passport? It may not be official travel but I would still think it's a valid ID and would be accepted as so wherever he went.
Hope things work out!

Posted by
106 posts

I have personally traveled in Italy, in fact to Venice, with only a military ID and a copy of my orders. I would also venture to say that it's in a commander's discretion, due to the extenuating circumstances, to issue temporary orders for travel to France and Italy. With this documentation, I don't think any bureaucrat in either country is going to look twice at your son's lack of a passport. Good luck and tell your son thanks.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for your reassurance, everyone. I thought for sure I was banned from the site because of my "would it be kosher question." I couldn't log in to the Helpline most of the day! and it occurred to me I'd asked a non-kosher question.
We're still hopeful about the mail. "I will make it happen," he said, if the passport does not come in time.

Posted by
1251 posts

Elane - I hope you'll keep us updated on this. Thanks.

Posted by
46 posts

I'm starting to think that the passport was lost by the post office, as it cannot be traced beyond where I mailed it, despite the fact I paid for certified mail. He leaves for his leave on Thursday, and I'm just sorry he has this to worry about. He's been working seven days a week for the last seven months, far from home and deserves this long-anticipated trip.
I will let everyone know how this turns out.

Posted by
281 posts

If I were you I would also contact the office of my Senators and Congressman. It can't hurt and they
need something to do.

Posted by
2876 posts

This seems obvious, but have you called the National Passport Information Center for advice? 1-877-487-2778 You have to call before 10 PM EST to get a human.

Posted by
4580 posts

As others have mentioned, short of him getting his passport, he will need to work with his CO to get orders allowing travel in the specific countries visited, plus any transit countries he may go through. The Military ID works, but only with orders, which is not only papers, but also usually a briefing, and since he is coming in from "out of theatre" maybe a few other hoops. If he is travelling military transport vs commercial to some point in Europe, it may be easier. They may be able to pull it off, but anyone who knows the Military also knows that channels can take time. A sympathetic CO though can work wonders.

Posted by
238 posts

My son went from country to country in Europe with us in 2005 when he only had a military ID. And I did the same thing while in the Navy in 2003. I never had a passport in 26 years in the military and was never asked for one. Obviously, it all may have changed in the last 6 years.

Posted by
4580 posts

Celeste, If your son was stationed in Europe (say Germany) then travelling by ground transport within the Schengen zone is not an issue. Travelling outside the Schengen Zone or by Air, would present some issues and require some type of documentation other than just an ID

Posted by
46 posts

Here's a message I received from my son today: Hey mom
Nothing yet... I should still be able to get into France just with my orders and get an emergency passport from the US embassy while I am there, which will then be able to get me to Italy. The passport might be here in the next couple days but I am planning for the worst

Posted by
46 posts

Well, I thought I would everyone on my son's situation. He wasn't able to fly into France without a passport, but he was able to make an appointment, with the help of phone calls to the embassy from the U.S., with the embassy at Kuwait to get an emergency passport. I talked to a very nice man at home on Saturday, who told me enough to reassure my son that they "would take care of him" and that they would get him a passport. By then he was very, very discouraged. It's been one thing after another. Unfortunately, the embassy was closed on Friday and Saturday, so the appointment wasn't until 9 a.m. Sunday. (11 p.m. Saturday PDT). He now has a passport, but the outfit that books flights for soldiers on leave (SATO), now tells him that he can't fly out of Kuwait until tomorrow (Monday), to bring all his stuff at 2 p.m. They won't give him an itinerary so he doesn't know when he will arrive in Paris, where his girlfriend is waiting. He said they'd been very, very unhelpful. I have a feeling it won't be non-stop.
We were hoping that they would fly him into Paris and out of Rome, but apparently they won't do that because it costs them more. So he will have to buy a round-trip flight to Rome, rather than one way. But he has a passport, he will get to spend time in Paris with his girlfriend, and he will get to meet me in Rome ... Now I guess I'd better get back to putting finishing touches on my trip planning, which I couldn't concentrate on with all the drama going on. Thank you for all your responses, concern and encouragement. Now we know what happens when your passport doesn't arrive in the mail in Iraq.