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I read on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1373 (mirror):

Un passeport temporaire peut être délivré en urgence pour un motif d'ordre médical ou humanitaire ou pour des raisons professionnelles. Les services préfectoraux décident de la délivrance en fonction de la situation. Ce passeport est valide seulement 1 an.

Google Translate:

A temporary passport can be issued urgently for medical or humanitarian reasons or for professional reasons. The prefectural services decide on the issue depending on the situation. This passport is only valid for 1 year.

Why are French emergency passports only valid for one year (vs. 10 years for regular passports)? E.g. are they in some way less secure than regular passports?

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    My feeling is that the name, temporary passport, is a giveaway. They want you to only apply if you really have to, so they make it not worth it for you to do it unless you are in an emergency. – Willeke Aug 18 '20 at 19:15
  • American emergency passports also have a 1 year validity. – Michael Hampton Aug 18 '20 at 22:43
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Yes, emergency passports have fewer security features (not only RFID chip, the distintion already existed before biometric passports were introduced). Emergency passports are made on the spot and not at the Imprimerie nationale. They can also be issued after more superficial verifications. I once held an emergency passport issued at an embassy, where I was unable to provide the usual documents (birth certificate, previous passport). The binding was coming apart at the seams, which resulted in a very careful examination at the border.

Many comments mention passports valid for a single trip or retained by the authorities when (re)entering the country. Such a document also exists in France but it is called a laissez passer and is distinct from an emergency passport. Importantly, the issuance of emergency passports is discretionnary. You're not entitled to it (unlike a regular passport) and a consulate may very well decide to give you a French laissez passer instead if they deem it more appropriate.

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  • Thanks for sharing! Maybe the 1-year limit is a physical limit :-) – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 19 '20 at 5:55
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    UK emergency passports are often only valid for one journey - just to return to the UK. They are retained by the Immigration Officer on arrival. – canonacer Aug 19 '20 at 6:08
  • @canonacer Such a document also exists but it's called a laissez-passer in French administrative parlance. It is distinct from a emergency passport. It's up to the consulate to decide whether they will give you an emergency passport or a laissez-passer. If you do reside in France, French authorities will typically refuse to give you a passport and issue a laissez-passer instead (I needed mine for a return journey and did not reside in France at the time). – Relaxed Aug 19 '20 at 6:10
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I read on 'Décret n°2005-1726 du 30 décembre 2005 relatif aux passeports" that the French emergency passports, unlike regular passports issued after May 2006, don't contain any electronic component (RFID chip), so I am guessing this (partly?) explains why French emergency passports are only valid for one year:

A titre exceptionnel et pour des motifs de nécessité impérieuse ou d'urgence dûment justifiée, il peut être délivré un passeport d'une durée de validité d'un an ne comportant pas de composant électronique lorsque les conditions ci-dessus ne permettent pas de délivrer le titre dans les conditions prévues aux chapitres Ier à IV.

Google Translate:

Exceptionally and for reasons of overriding necessity or duly justified urgency, a passport with a validity of one year not including an electronic component may be issued when the above conditions do not allow the permit to be issued under the conditions provided for in Chapters I to IV.

The lack of RFID chip also explains why one cannot use a French emergency passport to enter the United States via the Visa Waiver Program.

The same limitation applies to Australian emergency passports (mirror).

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  • I think your answer is not convincing. Before the days of chips most emergency passports were already for a shorter duration so I do not think that is the reason. And the Dutch did make almost instant passports with chips, before the production was centralized, those passports were full length passports, then 5 years. – Willeke Aug 18 '20 at 19:58
  • @Willeke thanks, good points, I wonder if French emergency passports lack RFID chips because of poor passport production ability or a deliberate intent to make them of subpar quality (doesn't seem to make sense for a security standpoint, or perhaps I missed something). – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 18 '20 at 20:01
  • As I posted in the comment on the question, there does not need to be a technical reason to have the temporary passport to be short term. The main reason is that the government wants them to be short term. – Willeke Aug 18 '20 at 20:10
  • @Willeke Point taken. A counter-argument would be that making French emergency passports purposely short would increase the load on the French administration (= more passports to create). – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 18 '20 at 20:15
  • It is not just the French emergency passports, I kind of remember from more countries that they supply short term travel papers, or emergency passports, of short duration. Best make sure you apply for a new passport when your old one is not yet run out and hope you never lose it. – Willeke Aug 18 '20 at 20:17

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