The looming Jan. 15 deadline for updating passports has created a rush by civilians and dependents at passport offices on U.S. bases in Germany.

All employees, contractors and dependents who fall under Department of Defense auspices, except for uniformed servicemembers, must have updated passports by the deadline in order to re-enter Germany.

The deadline was announced nearly one year ago, but many people have not yet gone to their local passport office and completed the proper paperwork.

A recent publicity campaign on American Forces Network radio and television as well as through base publications has created the surge of interest, said Army Spc. Jessie Mizic, a passport agent with the 90th Personnel Support Battalion at Kleber Casern in Kaiserslautern.

“We put out the information almost a year ago, but word really didn’t get out to community until now,” Mizic said. “Now that word’s out, we have a lot of people coming in every day, rushing to get stuff done on time.

Updated passports will include either a Department of State stamp inside of red official passports or a laminated card to be attached to blue tourist passports.

The new credentials are required under the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, between Germany and the United States. They are designed to be more difficult to forge as well as to prevent former DOD employees and dependents from claiming SOFA status in Germany when they are no longer eligible.

Some passports already have the large, square Department of State stamp within the visa pages. Persons should check their passports for the stamp before making the potentially time-consuming trip to their passport office, said Army Sgt. Judy Thompson of the 510th Personnel Support Battalion at Panzer Casern in Stuttgart.

“We only have one person in our office,” Thompson said. “It could be a long wait in line for someone if it turned out they already have the stamp.”

In addition to being harder to forge and directing more scrutinization toward Americans living in Germany, the updated passports enable people to remain eligible to use commissaries and buy goods and services on the German economy without paying Germany’s 16-percent value-added tax.

Military dependents should bring their passports and their children’s passports to their local passport office, which is often located within the base’s ID office.

Civilian employees would need to obtain a Form AE 600-77A from their personnel office and bring the completed form along with their passport to the passport/ID office.

Some offices are allowing civilians to simply drop off their Form AV 600-77A at the office and pick up their laminated card the next day.

Passport agents said people with questions should phone their local passport office.

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