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]
- 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 2013 Top 10
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.
- Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom: 173 out of approximately 195 sovereign countries - or nearly 89% - do not require Finns or Swedes or Brits to have a visa to enter for business or pleasure
- Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, United States: 172
- Belgium, Italy, Netherlands: 171
- Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain: 170
- Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland: 168
- Australia, Greece, Singapore: 167
- South Korea, : 166
- Iceland: 165
- Malaysia, Malta: 163
- Liechtenstein: 159
This is a rather dramatic change from last year for Canadians, we are now allowed into 7 more countries without a visa than before. What happened? Well, countries change their visa rules all the time. The ever expanding Schengen area of the European Union - where passport-free travel occurs between countries - no doubt also plays a part. Whatever the reason, it is now even easier to travel as a Canadian citizen.
Want to become a Canadian citizen? Well, if you're already a permanent resident, check out this page to learn how to apply.
The 2013 Bottom 10
- Afghanistan: 28 out of approximately 195 sovereign countries - or just over 14% - allow Afghans visa-free travel
- Iraq: 31
- Pakistan, Somalia: 32
- Eritrea, Palestine: 36
- Nepal: 37
- Kosovo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan: 38
- Congo DR, Libya, South Sudan, Syria: 39
- Angola, Djibouti, Iran, Myanmar (Burma): 40
- Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, North Korea: 41
- Equatorial Guinea: 42
The list of the bottom countries suggests that visa-free travel is becoming more of a reality for everyone: even the least accepted passports in the world mostly improved in terms of lack of visas required between last year and this year. One of these days, nobody will need visas.
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 Henley & Partners.
The 2012 Top 10
- Denmark: 169 out of approximately 195 sovereign countries - or 87% - do not require Danes to have a visa to enter
- Finland: 168/195
- Germany: 168/195
- Sweden: 168/195
- Belgium: 167/195
- France: 167/195
- Netherlands: 167/195
- United Kingdom: 167/195
- Three countries tied at 9:
- Italy: 166/195
- Luxembourg: 166/195
- United States of America: 166/195
So there's your top 10. If you are a frequent traveler, it is best to have a passport from one of the above countries.
What about Canada?
Canada is tied for 19th at 163 countries, which is still pretty good: 84% of countries let Canadians in without a visa.
The 2012 Bottom 10
Here are the countries that you don't want to have a passport for if you plan on traveling frequently. If you are a citizen of one of these countries and you plan on traveling a lot, you might want to look into emigrating to one of the countries in the top 10.
- Afghanistan: No surprise, Afghanis are the least accepted internationally. Only 13% of countries - 26 - accept Afghanis without a visa.
- Somalia: 28/195
- Iraq: 30/195
- Pakistan: 32/195
- Palestine: 32/195
- Eritrea: 34/195
- Lebanon: 35/195
- Nepal: 35/195
- Sudan: 36/195
- Eight countries tied at 10:
- Angola: 37/195
- Djibouti: 37/195
- Ethiopia: 37/195
- Iran: 37/195
- Kosovo: 37/195
- Myanmar (Burma): 37/195
- Sri Lanka: 37/195
- Syria: 37/195