When it comes to passport history, Germany and GDR are strong focuses. I have one of the first Federal German passports in my collection. Same for GDR – one of the first and probably the last travel document issued just two days before reunification. Federal German Foreign Representation
I always wondered when the first Federal German passport was possibly issued. The following document is the earliest example issued by the just established Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany).
The passport was issued to Ludwig Carl Vogel, born 1909 and from Stuttgart, working as a salesman. The printed serial no of the passport is 1000194, and the passport number given by the consulate is 190/50, which means in 1950, since June 28, 190 passports were issued in New York. The consular number starts every year again with one. The initial validity of the travel document was two years until 1952. The New York Consulate General renewed then his passport twice until Nov 1955. As all the visas showed, Ludwig frequently traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK.
The print number from the Bundesdruckerei is 1 10010 50 000 5.50, which is code for 50.000 printed copies in May 1950. This must be the first printing batch from the Federal German printing office. The first 6-digits specify the passport type, I assume, as other passport types have a different number. Federal German Foreign Representation
To find out more, I asked the Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office, which I also visited personally in Berlin in 2011 – a long time ago. I was pleased to get a swift and solid response. Many thanks to Dr. Simon Hessdoerfer for looking into this topic. Here is the text, translated into English by the author.
“The Petersberg Agreement of November 22, 1949, between the Western Allies and the Federal Republic of Germany allowed the Federal Republic of Germany, among other things, to resume consular relations with other states gradually. This gave the Federal Republic the opportunity, indeed the right, to establish (general) consulates in other states that were responsible for passport and visa matters. Even though the right to hold a passport was not officially transferred to the Federal Republic until February 1, 1951, and the law on passwords was enacted in 1952, this does not mean that a legal vacuum prevailed here in 1950; the given legal situation, i.e., the law of November 8, 1867, applied to consular assistance. Moreover, the issuance of the passport that they had proves that such consular aid was necessary for the passport holder before the password was newly regulated. Federal German Foreign Representation
Another example of legal action without an actual enabling act is the Foreign Service: The new Foreign Office in March 1951, but the Foreign Service Act was not enacted until August 30, 1990. Nevertheless, all the civil service’s rights and regulations were valid for the civil servants and employees of the Foreign Service.
To come back to your question, “Since when are passports available?” There were passports in the Federal Republic of Germany for Germans living abroad as soon as this state could establish missions abroad with consular powers to provide consular assistance to German citizens abroad.
The first consulates were established with the Western Allies: on June 16, 1950, in London, on June 28, 1950, in New York, and on July 7, 1950, in Paris. The official passport forms were certainly produced before that date. They were available to the newly established consulates, hence the print run of May 1950 (Author: the document in my collection). If we want to condense the whole thing to a concrete date, then I would say: the first consulate took up its activities on June 16, 1950. From that date on, it was practically possible to obtain a passport as a German abroad, which means well before February 1, 1951, for passports issued in Germany itself.
As far as the legal situation in Germany is concerned, it must be assumed here, too, that until 1949 and beyond, in addition to the special rights of the Allies (see the Declaration on the Exercise of Executive Power of June 5, 1945, and other rights of reservation) The passport and visa regulations from the time of the North German Confederation of 1867 continued to apply.” Federal German Foreign Representation
The conclusion is that the first Federal German passport might have been issued as early as June 16, 1950, when the Consulate General (CG) in London was established! Only four days later, the CG became a diplomatic representation and an embassy on May 26, 1955.
However, even earlier established was the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, on 1. Nov 1949. As this was an Inter- and supranational organization, I would say it is unlikely that passports have been issued there.
In the meantime, I got a complete list of the 227 German Foreign Representations, including the date when they were established or upgraded, e.g., to embassies.