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In Germany and Austria¹, it is possible to have your doctoral degree noted on your passport, official ID (Personalausweis) and similar documents of identification. Whether allowing this is a good thing in general is debatable but the subject of another question (that is arguably too opinion-based for this site).

Having acquired such a degree, I fail to see any strong arguments for or against making use of this as an individual (and the Internet does not provide much searchable information on this issue either). Obviously, it flatters the ego and can be used to impress some people, but then it involves some effort and may come off as arrogant to others. But I am wondering whether there are some situations where there is a more clear advantage or disadvantage or whether I am grossly misestimating the situation.

Note that I do not ask you to make this decision for me. I am fully aware that I have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages myself. I am just asking for arguments.


¹ which seem to be the only countries where this is possible if some websites are to be believed

Finally, for the search engines: Was sind die Vor- und Nachteile davon, seinen Doktorgrad im Personalausweis vermerken zu lassen?

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    I would start with thinking about who you will be showing your id and in what situations. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 9:24
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    I don't have enough experience in these things to give an actual answer, but I'd assume that, at least in Austria, some people might find it strange to the point of suspicion not to find the fact that you're a doctor in your ID
    – sgf
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 21:28
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    I did this in Germany. And I got the impression (but cannot prove it) that the Dr in your passport is helpful when dealing with real estate agents or landlords, by letting you appear to be a bit more "serious" and making you a bit more financially credible in their eyes. Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 22:46
  • @CrepusculeWithNellie Real estate agents want to see your passport?
    – user151413
    Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 22:46

7 Answers 7

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I have my “Dr.” degree in my German ID as well as in my passport. The process was very simple and I made these changes when I had to renew the documents anyway; therefore it did not mean any extra work for me.

(However, I do not have it on my doorbell or letterbox, since it might give potential burglars the wrong idea that I have many expensive things at home. I also wouldn’t like it if a sick person thinks that I would be a medical doctor and asks for help in the middle of the night.)

In my experience, it makes no significant difference whether you have it in your ID or not, neither in a positive nor in a negative way.

Typically, the degree can be noticed on international travels. Many employees working at a hotel reception, a car rental service, or an airline check-in (sometimes even on board a plane when you are flying in business or first class and the cabin crew has the time for such gimmicks) will happily address you with “Doctor”.

Passport checks by border officials have always been without any problems. In most cases, the officers don’t talk so much; thus, I don’t know if they even look at the degree in my passport. Only in one case upon leaving the Schengen Area in Frankfurt Airport, I was asked by a German Federal Police officer what kind of doctor I am (he seemed to be disappointed by my answer “chemistry”).

The only occasion when I had to explain that I am not a medical doctor was with locals in Tanzania. Nevertheless, they happily called my “Doctor” all the time.

In a professional setting where your degree would actually be relevant, you usually don’t have to show your ID. Therefore, the few people who might be genuinely interested in your qualifications don’t see it. You cannot use it to quietly remind contacts of your degree or to impress clients.

However, I sometimes have to visit nuclear facilities where I must hand over my ID at the entrance. The security guard is not really interested in my degree but uses a copy of my ID for a temporary visitor pass. This has to be signed by my contact in the facility, which gives that person the rare opportunity to actually see the degree in my ID.

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    Those potential burglars apparently know very little about academic pay!
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 0:27
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I did add the degree to the passport, and I can tell you that so far it only had disadvantages (though no severe ones).

  1. I added my master degree, and did not need a new passport since. So now that I have my PhD, its not even accurate anymore.
  2. In China, authorities looked at my passport and me very sceptically, when I did not add my degree to the train ticket, and thus the name differed between passport and ticket. They did not understand my explanation, but let me pass on the train anyway ;)
  3. Most time I book a flight ticket, I can only select Mr/Mrs as title. So I have to think everytime, whether I should add the degree in the name field. Usually I don't do it, hence again the ticket and the passport show different names. It caused a strange look in America, but no serious problems.
  4. My new colleagues (in a foreighn country) looked at me like i was crazy, when they saw it.
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    What country are you talking about? I am pretty confident that it’s not possible to add a master’s degree to a passport in Germany (not sure about Austria, as they are even more obsessed with titles).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:02
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    I did it in Austria. Yes, it seems we are slightly more obsessed with titles than others ;)
    – Lot
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:03
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    My husband did it in Germany and in this experience it has the slight advantage that people will subconsciously tend to respect you more and treat you slightly better, but only in Germany and Austria. In the rest of the world it has no effect. Also in Germany it seems to be expected that you put your Dr. (PhD title) on your ID (but not the lower ones like MSc) so the confusion can be the other way around when you sign your emails with Dr. Whoever and then present ID without the Dr. people can get the impression that you're using a vanity title. Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 9:33
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    In Denmark everyone seems to be on a first-name basis. I have the feeling that adding the degree to a mail I send would already be very weird up here.
    – Lot
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 11:09
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    @Sumyrda: Actually, according to the German ID law (gesetze-im-internet.de/pa_g_1986/__4.html), the Doktorgrad is the only academic title that may be added to your name on your ID. But saying that it seems "to be expected" that you do that is a gross overstatement. Actually, I know of no Dr. holder of my generation who has done so, but this decision may depend on your motivation to obtain a Dr. in the first place.
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 12:05
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I'm a German, living and working in Austria, and I never added my "Dr." to any official document, and I always left the "title" fields blank, in paper or computer forms unrelated to my job. I consider the use of academic degrees in Germany and Austria outside academia rather anachronistic.

I do not see any advantage of using it.

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To add to the existing answers: Systems which automatically process your passport (such as certain airline online checkins, e.g. United for international flights) might have problems matching the name on your ticket with the name on the ID, and refuse to complete the online checkin, which can be a nuisance (e.g. since you have to queue up at a counter). For the same reason, specifying a title on the ticket can be an issue, since not all airlines' systems are able to process that properly.

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I recently discovered this possibility to add doctor (or professor) in many documents in Germany as I moved to Berlin. So I asked about the why and impacts to my colleagues (I am working in a research laboratory; so it was several doctors from different countries at the table).

Every foreigner at first agreed on how pretentious someone has to be to ask for adding it anywhere. Germans agreed and told no impact except if you are doctor in medicine then it can be useful in plane (as the company should then know there is a doctor on board) and for your neighbors in case of a true emergency. And for same reason they recommend to do it for medicine doctors (hence, it would make sense to do it for nurses and firefighters as well, no?).

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It is also a possibility, and indeed common in Hungary. However, as Hungarian culture is much different from German, I can list some advantages I heard about, but they might be less relevant for you.

  • I have heard about police officers being more lenient when they see "Dr." in your driver's license. I even have heard about getting away with speeding because of that.
  • Medical doctors are also generally more friendly when seeing it in your ID. (Please note the level of the Hungarian health care here.)

Actually these are (imho) because lawyers in Hungary are legally required to put "Dr." into their ID, so when they see it, they are afraid you will sue them.

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Many countries do not have a place for any form of title or honorific, but for those that do so, I can see only a handful of pros or cons.

On the pro side:

  1. Some people, after seeing your document, may treat you better than other people in anticipation of a better outcome for themselves, such as a tip or good review.
  2. It may serve as verification of a degree in some employment situations.
  3. If you were emigrating to a nation that permitted certain high value professions in, the document may assist in verification.
  4. If you have a common name, it may better identify you so that you may not be mixed up with someone on a no-fly list or similar thing.

On the con side:

  1. It may identify you as a target for thieves if a hotel worker uses the information to identify you as a potentially valuable target
  2. It can create confusion if travel documents do not match your official documents.
  3. Governments have sometimes created kill lists for members of the intelligentsia. The Khmer Rouge did and Russia currently has a list of professionals to be killed in Ukraine. The listing of a degree may make someone vulnerable in revolution or war.

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