East German Passport issued in 1989 with visa from 1995

East German Passport issued in 1989 with visa from 1995

The German Democratic Republic (GDR) is already history for 28 years but one still can find most interesting documents from this time. Here is one. A GDR passport with a visa from 1995! You might ask yourself how is this possible, as the reunification was already in 1990. Well, let me explain this to you a bit later. Let’s have a look at the document first.

The passport was issued in the city of Erfurt on 26 Oct 1989, just two weeks before the fall of the wall on 9 November

  • Page 9 shows a visa for a single trip to West Germany, issued 30 Oct and valid from 31 Oct to 10 Nov 1989
  • 14th Nov the passport holder applied for a visa (for West Germany) valid till 13th May 1990, see page 11
  • Page 26 shows an Egypt entry and revenues from 1990
  • Page 48 some Egypt stamp from 1992
  • Page 13 for Cyprus, issued on 3 March 1995 for entry and 10 March 1995 for the exit


East German Passport issued in 1989 with visa from 1995

I always wonder how Immigration officers must have been looked at such a passport. The reunification was in October 1990 and this man shows up in Larnaca, Cyprus with his East German (GDR) passport 4,5 years later. That’s awesome!

Why he still could travel on a passport of a state which did not longer exist? The answer is in the unification treaty which had a clause saying that GDR passports remain valid latest till 31 December 1995. This fact is commonly rather unknown. I would love to see an official document where Federal Germany informed the world about this rule, as it must have been communicated of course. However, this document is a fantastic piece of German passport history.


East German Passport issued in 1989 with visa from 1995


East German Diplomatic Passport Of Schalck-Golodkowski

FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...