JOFTAA provided this useful information 9 years, 8 months ago:

Get Your Blue SOFA Card

If you are looking for information on which passport to use while traveling, look here.

If all you have is a travel passport, then you should get a blue SOFA card to carry with you when traveling.

If you have an official passport as well as your travel passport, but don't want to carry it around just to have your SOFA stamp handy, get yourself a blue SOFA card and carry that with your travel passport.

In order to get the blue SOFA card, you need to have the following:


  • A copy of your orders
  • A filled out AA Form 600-77A (Request for Issuance of Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Identification) - This is a controlled form. Cannot be downloaded.
  • A passport for each person who is to receive the blue SOFA card
  • Your ID card


You can get your blue SOFA card at:

Kleber, building 3245
Call for hours
0631-411-8892/7659

RAB passport office
Passports, Visas & Birth Registration
Bldg. 2106, Rm 110
Telephone: 06371-47-2240

I was told that the best time to go (Kleber) is at 14:30 because it is less crowded. When I went, there were only 20 people in front of me, but the wait was three hours. Fortunately, before I waited for more than a few minutes it dawned on me that my official passport should suffice, so I asked the person who issues the SOFA cards and she confirmed my thought that a SOFA card was not needed since I had the SOFA stamp in my passport. I am glad I did not wait for three hours to find this out.

NOTE: See post below about traveling with your official passport.

trifoldsofa.doc
SOFA checklist
Another checklist



8 years, 9 months ago

Your official passport will have your SOFA stamp as indicated in the first post. You should have that with you to travel on orders. So, having the official (no-fee) passport takes care of having your SOFA.

As for getting here, when you show your official passport, the officials at the airport know exactly why you are here. They'll welcome you to Germany, offer you a beer, and send you on your way without any hassle. Well, unless you don't finish your beer.

8 years, 9 months ago

But I am not traveling on orders as a contractor (at least they have not mentioned anything about orders or needing an official passport) and dont have an official passport just my personal travel one.

8 years, 9 months ago

Hmmmm.. Good question. Sounds more like a question for your employer. But, I would love to know how this works out so the next contractor who asks can get some help from this site, and from you.

8 years, 8 months ago

What exactly is a SOFA card? Do I need this to PCS to Germany?

8 years, 8 months ago

Quote by pgt2k3:
What exactly is a SOFA card? Do I need this to PCS to Germany?


You should have an official passport. That passport will have your SOFA stamp. This is all you need to get here.

However, when you travel out of Germany for pleasure, you will have a problem because you are not allowed to use your official (no fee) passport for personal travel. You need to use your travel passport. Your travel passport won't have a stamp in it from when you entered Germany, so the passport control people will want to know how you got into the country. This is where the blue SOFA card comes in. You show that, along with your ID, and you're good to go.

This is all explained in some detail here, and here.

8 years, 8 months ago

Quote by pgt2k3:
What exactly is a SOFA card? Do I need this to PCS to Germany?


The SOFA Card/Stamp is documentation that an individual falls under the SOFA agreement and can travel to/from Germany and reside here.

Are you active duty? If so, unless your duties require you to travel, you normally will not get an official passport. Active duty members don't get a SOFA stamp/card, instead your orders and ID card works in place of the SOFA statement.

Civilian employees, dependents of both active duty and civilian employees normally receive a no-fee passport with the SOFA stamp prior to arrival. They can travel here on a tourist passport, but will need to obtain the SOFA Card and/or no-fee passport with SOFA Stamp before their tourist visa expires (90 days).

8 years, 8 months ago

Yep. As a dependent of a civilian, my entire family received an official (or no fee) passport.

We were instructed to use it for our travel from CONUS to OCONUS. Once we arrived, we were never instructed to get a blue SOFA card. Nor were we ever told not to use our no-fee passport when traveling. This was news to us almost a year after arrival.

We never did get our blue SOFA cards. We just travel with both, or travel and no-fee passports. If there is a problem with our travel passport, we just show our no-fee and we are allowed to proceed. Just this past January, I showed my travel passport to the passport kontrole officer and he could not find an entry stamp, except for a stamp that was six months old. I then showed him my no-fee passport. He then asked to see my ID card. I got a stamp in my travel passport and was on my merry way.

I suppose it would be easier to have the blue SOFA card, but since the right hand doesn't have any clue as to what the left hand is doing most of the time in regard to DoD, when I went to get my blue SOFA card at Kleber last year, I was told I did not need one as long as I had my no-fee passport with my SOFA stamp in it. I later found that this is not necessarily the case, but I was not about to waste anymore of my time or gas to get it.

Christie
8 years, 8 months ago

I had a similar situation to JOFTAA when leaving via Frankfurt International a couple of weeks ago:

I used my tourist passport, but the passport agent wanted to know how I got into the country since I didn't have a stamp noting my entrance into Germany (that stamp is in my official passport). I explained that I am a military dependent and that I'd entered the country on my SOFA/Official passport quite some time ago. He asked to see it, and luckily I happened to have it, so I showed it to him. Then, clearly not understanding, he started to give me the 3rd degree about why I had two perfectly valid looking passports, and what the difference was between the two! After showing him the SOFA stamp and explaining to him how I'm supposed to use the tourist passport for leisure travel, and the other for government official travel, (and that I was traveling for leisure that day) he reluctantly let me go, and didn't stamp either passport.

I'm hoping that was a passport agent on his first day or something - it was pretty unnerving...but in the future I will always make sure I have both on me just in case, and be prepared to give an explanation.

8 years, 8 months ago

Amazing that the people in charge of immigration are so clueless.

8 years, 8 months ago

Well the SOFA Card is really your only proof that your allowed in the country legally. Not having an entry visa in your Passport, I believe, would raise a red flag with any immigration official.

8 years, 8 months ago

Quote by JRPeterson:
Well the SOFA Card is really your only proof that your allowed in the country legally. Not having an entry visa in your Passport, I believe, would raise a red flag with any immigration official.


Or, the SOFA stamp in the official passport.

This really appears to be a topic of the right hand and the left hand communicating with one another.

As I mentioned before, I've been on my way to CONUS from Frankfurt Int'l and had passport kontrol question me about the lack of entry stamps in my travel passport. Once I show them the SOFA stamp in my official passport, along with my ID card, they stamped my travel passport and sent me on my way.

When I attempted to get my blue SOFA card, I was turned away by the folks at Kleber because they insisted that I don't need it if I have my official passport, and was instructed to carry both passports when traveling.

I suppose that the way you posted is correct, but it would seem that either way works just fine.

8 years, 8 months ago

We don't even show the German officials our tourist passport. Since the SOFA is in the no fee, it just makes sense to show them that one. Never had a problem entering or leaving Germany. I wouldn't be surprised if the issue is the same for foreign troops stationed in the US. Actually, it seems I end up spending more time with the US Immigration official when entering the US, than with the German folks when coming into Germany.

8 years, 8 months ago

Actually, it seems I end up spending more time with the US Immigration official when entering the US, than with the German folks when coming into Germany.


Definitely the case. My problem has always been with leaving Germany, though. Also, we are told, over and over, not to use our official passports when traveling, or risk not being able to enter Germany. Frankly, it seems to be a big ol' bluff. I don't think German Passport Kontrol has ever read the article written in KA.

7 years, 11 months ago

Okay, here's my question: will I have a problem, arriving as a civilian employee, on my regular travel passport with my travel orders? I had read somewhere that I was supposed to get my official stateside before I left. I contacted the office where I arranged my move and spoke to five people (I kid you not) and they all said I could get the passport/SOFA stamp once I arrive in Germany. Just to cover all my bases, I even asked the HR rep in Germany and he said I could get it there, too. However, my sponsor said it's odd because that's not normally the case.

I have nightmare visions of showing up with my tourist passport and orders and still not being let in at Frankfurt -- just because it seems like there is no consistency. Am I being paranoid?

7 years, 11 months ago

Yes, you are being a bit paranoid, but for good reason. When I arrived last Feb I was a contractor and did not have an official passport, only my tourist. As a tourist you can enter the country for up to 90 days. Since I work down south the closest agency offices were in Heidelberg so I went there, showed them my orders and they cut me a SOFA stamp. Its really just a cheesy blue laminated card that I keep in my passport. When I made the jump to CIV I had to get my SOFA redone and it was the same simple process. I imagine you can get it done just as easily up in KMC area. Heidelberg is closing down so now I will have to start driving to ktown to get anything done.

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