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My French passport indicates my physical address. What's the point of it? I.e., when is the address indicated on a passport being used?

enter image description here

(image source, sorry I couldn't find any specimen with a higher definition)

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    The residence information contained in the French passport Biodata page in not a mandatory entry for passports. Since most other passports don't have such an entry, it is probably not used at all for international travel. – Mark Johnson Jul 5 at 12:05
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    When you move house, or even countries, you do not have to update your passport (as far as I understand.) That would mean to me that the address will not be up to date for many people and thus useless. – Willeke Jul 5 at 12:26
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    Once, in my case, I had written my Dutch address in my US passport. That caused a Belgian border guard to get very upset with met, apparently thinking I was in the Netherlands illegally. How he missed my giant residency permit in the passport I don't know, but I showed it to him and he went off in a huff. – Jon Custer Jul 5 at 22:25
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    Canadian passports have a place for your 'permanent address' on the Loss and Theft page, I've seldom filled it out. – Spehro Pefhany Jul 5 at 23:06
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    I had a hotel deny me lodging because my only photo ID on hand was my passport, and my country doesn't put an address on there (Much for the same reason mentioned by Willeke, it's not a reliable value), and they required an id to have an address. Luckily I had made the reservation through a 3rd party company who I called, and they said that address requirement was unreasonable, and they refunded me the cost of that hotel and put me up in another location free of charge. Not having an address there saved me the cost of two nights lodging, go figure ;) – Davy M Jul 6 at 16:41
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In theory, if you lose your passport and someone finds it, they could mail it to your address. Alternatively, if you have some sort of incapacitating emergency, somebody could contact you at the address. Here's an Australian passport's address page which makes this explicit:

enter image description here

In practice, this never happens. If you lose your passport while travelling, you need to make a police report and tell your embassy, who will electronically invalidate it as part of the process of issuing a new one. So there's no point to mailing around found passports. Likewise, if you have an emergency, your emergency contact will be contacted by phone, not by sending a letter.

This has not gone unnoticed, and addresses on passports are an endangered species these days: having an address in the passport is not mandated by ICAO regulations, and most countries' passports no longer have it.

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  • So what theory is that ? – Antzi Jul 6 at 5:23
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    The theory that somebody could mail the passport to the address written on it. – lambshaanxy Jul 6 at 7:12
  • This is speculation. – phoog Jul 8 at 3:45
  • @phoog Added another useless rationale and a scan of an Australian passport that verified it. If you have better ideas or sources, post 'em up! – lambshaanxy Jul 8 at 4:37
3

Since the introduction of the 'International' Passport in the 1920's, passports should have a Domicile entry (Page 2 of sample passport, Annex 1 of 1920 Conference, page 156 of pdf).

Annex I of 1920 Passport Conference

The recommendations do not state the purpose or what this field should contain.

However since the general agreement about the issuing of visas states, as a general rule, that visas should be issued at the place of domicile of the applicant (a rule which still applies today), this is probably the reason for this field.

In German passports (former and present), only the city is entered on the Biographical data page.


FINAL ACT
adopted by the Passport Conference on May 18th, 1926.
...
RECOMMENDATIONS
SECTION I. - GENERAL QUESTIONS.
II . Facilities to be Granted.
...
B. Visas.
The Conference recommends:
...
(3) That, although as a general rule visas are granted by the diplomatic or consular authorities competent for the place of domicile of the applicant, the diplomatic and consular authorities may in cases deserving special consideration grant visas to persons not domiciled in their area and that as far as possible the said authorities shall not require the applicant to appear in person. In the case of transit visas, the applicant should only be required to appear in person if the authority granting the visas has doubts regarding the case.



Sources:

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    Interesting - I'm trying to find something similar in my passport. I have "Nationality" and "Place of Birth", but not "Domicile". I would have defined "Domicile" as place of residence (whether that's country or city I guess is up to further interpretation), but my passport lists neither of those. I have a New Zealand passport but I live in Mexico. – Midavalo Jul 5 at 19:18
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    @Midavalo Many countries did not follow the recommendations in full. A 1928 US Passport did not have a field on the description page, although the inside page has room for a private entry of address as well as a notification address. – Mark Johnson Jul 5 at 19:36
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    Thanks, that makes sense – Midavalo Jul 5 at 20:00
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    This answer is pure speculation. (Also, US passports to this day have a place for the bearer to pencil in an address. "Pencil," because addresses may change. But nothing in this answer indicates that this is contrary to any recommendation.) – phoog Jul 8 at 3:45
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    @ChrisH Based on the entry on page 2 of the sample passport (page 156 of the pdf). Annex I of the 1920 conference. – Mark Johnson Jul 8 at 6:20
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I've asked the question to an employee at the French Embassy in Bangkok working on issuing new passports does accept: she couldn't think of any use of the address indicated on a French passport. So it's unlikely that the address indicated on a French passport has any major role, if any. lambshaanxy's answer gives the best reason I can think of, and Mark Johnson's answer seems to explain well the origin of this relic of the past.

Also, according to https://passeport.ants.gouv.fr/Questions-frequentes/Questions-pratiques/Je-demenage-dois-je-modifier-mon-passeport-ma-carte-nationale-d-identite (mirror):

Si vous déménagez, le changement de l'adresse portée sur le passeport, la carte d'identité ou le permis de conduire est facultatif.

Google Translate:

If you move, changing the address on your passport, identity card or driver's license is optional.

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    It would seem that a full address was common place for French passports. Image: French Passport, 1939 with full address – Mark Johnson Jul 11 at 5:47
  • Franck Dernoncourt: How does one actually change the address? Do they issue a new document or add some note to the existing one? In New York, licensed drivers must report a change of address to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days, but getting a new license is optional; one may instead write the new address on the document in a space provided for this purpose on the back. (This is actually very difficult to do because ink tends not to stick to the polycarbonate.) – phoog Jul 15 at 13:34

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