Many people often have more than one passport. This phenomenon is common in many countries as the practice is officially authorized - or at least tolerated - in more and more places. However, there are certain countries that forbid the possession of more than one passport. But most countries now at least informally allow dual citizenship. This can be a huge advantage when a country you are visiting requires a visa stamp in one of your passports but not the other. The main way you can get a second passport is by becoming a citizen of another country. (There are some countries that will issue you a passport just for being a "national" which is often conceived of as different from "citizen".) There are many ways that a person can become a citizen of a country.

Visas from around Asia [Public Domain]

Visas from around Asia [Public Domain]

  • By birth: If you are born in a particular country, you are usually - but not always - a citizen of that country. If one of your parents is a citizen of a different country, this often means you are a dual citizen and therefore entitled to two passports.
  • By naturalization: You can become a citizen of a particular country by residing in that country for a certain amount of time or by marrying a citizen of that country, or both. Countries have all sorts of different naturalization rules and regulations and often have different ways of allowing various types of applicants (nationals, permanent residents, temporary residents, etc) to gain citizenship. To be sure, you must check with the country where you are trying to be naturalized.

There are also more unusual ways of becoming a citizen of a particular country. For example, purchasing citizenship. There are countries that sell citizenship to rich foreigners. This is technically naturalization as well, but the process may be quicker than regular naturalization. So, now that you know how you can get another passport, what passport should you strive for? An annual survey by Henley and Partners ranks passports by least visas required. That is, the best passport is the one that lets you into the most countries without having to apply for and pay for a visa.

 

The 2018 Top 40

Citizens of these countries have the most visa-free travel of anyone in the world. If you aren't sure you are a citizen of one of these countries, but you are related to someone from one of them, you might want to look into applying for citizenship.

  1. United Arab Emirates: UAE citizens get visa-free travel to 167 out of 198 sovereign countries or 84.3%
  2. Singapore, Germany: 166 (83.8%)
  3. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, South Korea, USA: 165 (83.3%)
  4. Belgium, Austria, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, the UK*, Ireland, Canada: 164 (82.8%)
  5. Czechia, Hungary: 163 (82.3%)
  6. Malta, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia: 162 (81.8%)
  7. Malaysia, Slovenia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia: 161 (81.3%)
  8. Estonia: 160 (80.8%)
  9. Romania, Bulgaria: 158 (79.8%)
  10. Cyprus, Liechtenstein: 157 (79.3%)

*Not for long will the UK be on this list as, with a "no deal" Brexit looking more and more likely, its entirely possible UK citizens will need a visa to visit Schengen area countries (aside from Ireland).

Who knew it paid to be a citizen of UAE? Well, we knew they were rich, but did you know the rest of the world wants them too?

When we last did this list in 2013, the top countries had visa-free access to over 170 countries around the world, so visa policies have tightened up slightly. There could be any number of reasons for this - including randomness - but one possible reason is the migrant crisis Europe faced which may have encouraged countries to create visa requirements for certain countries which, in turn usually causes the other countries to reciprocate. 

 

The 2018 Bottom 15

  1. Afghanistan: 29 out of approximately 198 sovereign countries - or just over 14.6% - allow Afghan citizens visa-free travel
  2. Iraq: 32 (16.1%)
  3. Pakistan: 35 (17.7%)
  4. Syria: 36 (18.1%)
  5. Somalia: 38 (19.1%)
  6. Yemen: 39 (19.7%)
  7. Iran, Sudan: 42 (21.2%)
  8. Bangladesh: 43 (21.7%)
  9. Palestine, Eritrea, Ethiopia: 44 (22.2%)
  10. Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Libya: 45 (22.7%)

The opposite has happened with the countries with the worst passports: in the last five years all of them have gained visa-free access to one or two more countries.

Read more about the countries with the worst passports

So there you have it. The best - and the worst - passports to have based on visa-free travel. If you want to check out the full list, see Arton capital's annual report.


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