Politics

What’s The Best Passport To Have?

I was at a birthday party up in Harlem last night (which, by the way, has gentrified significantly in the past ten years) and was catching up with a friend of mine that recently married a British girl. He’s American and I was thinking about how he would now be eligible for a British passport.  But, when I pointed this out to him he seemed rather surprised by the idea and then confessed that he’d never even thought about it or looked into it. I guess I just think differently than most people…

Anyway, on the subway ride home, that conversation led me to start thinking about what would be the absolute best passport to have.

Justin Ames and his new British passport

A British passport, such as my friend will become eligible for, is nice since they are part of the European Union and one can therefore have access to not just Britain, but the entire EU. I have one myself… And, in fact, that is mine pictured above.

However, if you travel as I do, or Luxury Rogue does, or Eleonora Ames does, or Ben Walker does, etc. the only thing worse than having a British passport is an American passport.

Americans and Britons are always compelled to pay the highest fees for visas and we have to deal with the most shit from suspicious border control officers (how great would it be to have a diplomatic passport?) in countries like Sudan or Syria or Belarus

My American passport undergoing heavy scrutiny in Somalia:

Somali border guards

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a dear Pakistani friend and she is not even able to visit the United States and has to deal with a monumental amount of bureaucratic hassle to travel practically anywhere. So, I know that I could have it worse from a bureaucratic perspective.

But, there are other considerations of  importance to me in determining the best passport than just avoiding bureaucracy… When challenged, my goal is to pull out a passport that will not lead to me being in front of a video camera in an orange jumpsuit with my head being involuntarily separated from my body:

nick berg execution

Does one’s passport really make that much of a difference? Yes, it does. To give just one example: During the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, hostages that were holders of American and British passports were killed on the spot, while others were allowed to live:

“They wanted anyone with British or American passports”

At some point in the future, I will acquire an Italian passport. Now, that’s a pretty good one to have because nobody hates the Italians and if one does get abducted, the Italian government pays ransoms to get its citizens out of such situations.  Also, Italy is an EU member.  So, like Britain, with an Italian passport, one has access to the entire European Union.

But is there something even better than an Italian passport?

People suggest New Zealand passports to me often, but there is a problem there. Israel’s Mossad is quite aware of New Zealand’s reputation and over the years has stolen and forged a number of New Zealand passports. Thus, governments in places such as Iran or even the United Arab Emirates are immediately suspicious of New Zealand passports. That’s not a good thing.

So, what else?

How about a passport from Turkey? Brazil? Malta? Macedonia? Grenada? Or even Greenland when they gain control of their immigration procedures?

Those would all be great passports to have in certain circumstances. But, when it comes down to it, I want a country that I know is willing to put some cash on the line for me.

For the record, I do understand the reasoning behind the official policy of the British and American governments in their refusal to pay ransoms. I even agree with the policy on a rational level. However, when you are the one with the knife against your throat in front of a video camera, that perspective can look a lot different.

This brings me back to the Italian passport. Yes, Italy is a member of NATO. And from the orange jumpsuit perspective, that is not an ideal situation. But, let’s delve into that a little more…

Examine the Iraq Hostage Table below… The number on the left is the number of citizens from that particular country that were killed after being taken hostage. The number in the middle is the number of citizens that were freed after being abducted. And the number on the right is the number whose fate is unknown:

Iraq Hostage Table
Key: (killed-freed-unknown)

CoalitionAustralia  0-2-0Bulgaria 2-0-0Canada 1-6-1Czech Republic 0-3-0Denmark 1-0-0

Italy 4-6-0

Japan 2-3-0

Macedonia 3-2-0

Philippines 0-2-0

Poland 0-2-0

Romania 0-3-0

South Korea 1-0-0

Ukraine 0-5-0

United Kingdom 5-6-0

United States 11-6-5

You’ll notice the Americans have the worst stats (if you include the unknowns, which, unfortunately, we can safely say have not survived).

Italy’s record is not unblemished, but I believe the apparently glowing numbers for a country such as Iran are misleading. If one is picked up by Shiite militants, then the Iranian passport is a definite asset. However, if one is picked up by Sunni militants, the Iranian passport would almost certainly be an automatic death sentence. China, which at first glance appears to have excellent numbers as well, also is not as clear cut a situation as it might initially seem. There are parts of Africa, for example, in which the Chinese have been heavily involved where a Chinese passport would likely be fatal. Same deal with a Turkish passport… You’d better hope you do not get picked up by any Kurds.

So, again, I keep coming back to the Italian passport. Yes, there are times when if one knew everything about a situation, it might make sense to pull out, say a Maltese passport. However, reality is rarely so collaborative and when one is confronted by gun-wielding men with their faces concealed, it is often necessary to make a quick decision with little information.

In that situation, I would pull out the Italian passport because no matter who kidnapped me, I would at least have a chance based on the fact that a ransom will be paid for me. It makes me worth something. As an American, I’m worth something too, but not for the right reasons.

An American is worth something for propaganda purposes. So, one would likely either spend years as a hostage (such as Bowe Bergdahl) or be executed in a dramatic and unpleasant fashion such as the unfortunate Nick Berg (pictured above).

american hostage

If I were to pull out a passport from Macedonia, for example, that might not be offensive to anyone, but it also isn’t really worth much from a political or financial perspective either. So, one might just be gunned down on the spot for the sake of the attackers killing a Westerner, while the more valuable Italians would be kept alive to be bargained away.

Another benefit of the Italian passport? According to the latest Henley Visa Restrictions Index, Italy ranks in the third slot behind only Denmark, Finland and Sweden for the number of countries that an Italian citizen can visit without obtaining a visa before arrival. And even then, top-ranked Denmark, Sweden and Finland have only two more countries than Italy that citizens can access without obtaining a visa before arrival.

Unfortunately, there are some instances in which you’re going to die no matter which passport you are carrying merely based on the color of your skin or the clothing you are wearing. As that circumstance is beyond our control, I have focused on circumstances that are in our control and, thus, my argument for the Italian passport being the ideal passport:

Italian passport

The only time I can think to pull out the American passport is when one is actually entering the United States. Otherwise it is a liability.

For avoiding the most bureaucracy, I would suggest the American and British passport combination.

And from a purely financial perspective, one would want a passport from the U.A.E. or Qatar given the largesse they shower on their citizens.

But for the most versatility and survivability, I would put my money (and my life) on an Italian passport.

59 thoughts on “What’s The Best Passport To Have?

  1. Interesting thoughts…and your table appeals to my scientific side. However, based on the data, I would prefer a Canadian passport. Afterall, there were no Canadian passport holders that were reported to be killed or their status unknown. The Ukraine would be another top choice based on data presented alone. However, I suggest to go one step further and attempt to normalize the data based on degree of volatility that passport holders for the represented countries visited. Perhaps safety is merely a function of destination? Apologies for my in ability to proof read this comment…I’m sure it’s riddled with run-ons and spelling errors…

  2. I have always been treated very well entering Malaysia with an American passport. I get the V.I.P. treatment. Have had the best of treatment in Japan, too. But there are so many places I would prefer not to be on a American passport. It’s a tough call; your reasoning makes sense. I once had to turn down a job because not because of my passport, but because I wanted to carry a few guns/ammo. It was in a place called East Timor and the gig was war correspondent working with a French photo journalist recently escaped from Rangoon. My intel said the Indons had killed 17 western journalists the year before and I was not going to be captured. Risk calculation. If you travel in harm’s way tis best to minimize the risk, or, do a little harm yourself!

    • David, I only very recently obtained my British passport and so the majority of my travel has been on an American passport. And, interestingly, my experiences have matched yours… By that, I mean that I too have experienced the VIP treatment in the majority of cases, and in a lot of countries where I would not have expected it, such as Pakistan or Venezuela.

      Your East Timor decision presents a perfect example on the downsides of carrying the American passport… Although the majority of people may treat you well with an American passport, it only takes one person that has a problem with Americans to ruin your day. And if they have a gun, and you do not, that person can ruin a lot more than just your day. You’re not going to be able to disguise the fact that you’re a Westerner, but if I were challenged in East Timor, I’d much rather produce an Italian passport than an American one.

      Are you eligible for a Malaysian passport? I would think that would be a pretty good one to have as well…

    • Thank you for your comment, Amanda. The Canadian passport is desirable at times, but I return to the fact that Canada does not pay ransoms for its citizens. So, while Canada does fall under the “no one hates us” category, if you do end up getting abducted just for being a Westerner, you’re no better off than an American or Briton.

      Ukraine is viable in some locales – Africa comes to mind – but Ukraine is lumped in with Russia in the minds of many individuals. And if you consider the history that Russia has with places such as Chechnya or Afghanistan, you can see why that would potentially be a problem in some parts of the world.

      You said it quite well with your observation about the location being a determinant of one’s safety. In some instances, you can be fairly certain whom you are being confronted by and it can definitely make sense to produce a passport from Grenada or Namibia when you are clued in to what is going on. If, however, I was in doubt, I would produce the Italian passport for the reasons I outlined.

      • No, as a Westerner, Canadians still have propaganda value. It is just that the value is derived from their death or indefinite detention – neither of which are desirable from a personal standpoint…

  3. My Portuguese passport is always very well received since Cristiano Ronaldo is the best ambassador you can imagine. Just got into DRCongo last summer from South Sudan on a non-existing issuing visa on arrival border and got away with it somehow… with a 3 months travel permit. Back in 2004 I was getting my Iranian visa (3 working days issuing + no questions + no hassle + no invitation letter or travel agency), and when I got into the embassy in Almaty – Kazakhstan, an American guy was coming out a bit sad (pist off actually) coz when he got into the Iranian embassy everyone was ver polite and friendly until he pulled out his passport and they said: “ahh amérikan … no visa go!” hehe that sucked…really Great article man! greetings from Morocco by the way – anytime around mi case es su casa!

    • Portugal would be another good passport to have – No one hates the Portuguese. Does Portugal pay ransoms for its citizens? The certainty that Italy does is what made me choose Italy over many other countries that no one has a problem with.

      Thank you for the greeting from Morocco. Haha, and be careful with those invitations. I’m more than liable to take you up on them…

  4. I guess from your perspective on safety it would be wiser going with an Italian passport. But trust me you don’t want to be caught with a Nigerian passport because am definitely sure you would worth nothing to them and they might just not want to waste their time. At least your US passport allows you visit a lot of nice places! take care

    • The situation you mentioned with the Nigerian passport is exactly why I would prefer to have the passport from Italy rather than just simply a country that no one hates, such as Nigeria or Belize or Lesotho. Italy is a country that also goes into the “no one hates us” category, but (and this is important) if that is not sufficient to keep you alive, you still have the backup insurance that the Italian government will pay a ransom for you. With the Nigerian passport (or the equivalent) you run the risk, as you stated, of being seen as having little political or financial value and ending up with a bullet inside you because someone couldn’t be bothered to invest the energy and time into dealing with you.

      You are certainly right about the bureaucratic hassles that can be sidestepped in places like the U.S. and the U.K. with an American or British passport. Haha, but trust me, we get those hassles given back to us when visiting countries like Brazil. I know it isn’t anywhere near as bad as what you must have to go through, but we definitely get a taste of it.

      • Hello Justin:

        Actually a Briton doesn’t need any visa to come to Brazil. And Americans only require a visa because, a visa is also needed for Brazilians that visit the US.

        Thank you for your blog, really loved it!

  5. What a depressing article. You seem to be overlooking the power that having a US passport contains, though if you’re captured by terrorists most passports are useless. If arrested it signals the authorities to treat you well, lets they ire the US. Its best not to have multiple passports though. If you carry multiple passports they can just pass your troubles to the 2nd country, who pass you back, and you’re stuck in a hot potato to see who decides to help. Then there is the ease of travel. According to the 2006 Henley visa restriction index, the US is tied with Denmark and Finland at 130 countries, that allow US passports into their countries without visas, or with arrival visas.

    • Hello James -

      Thank you for weighing in…

      Have you ever benefited from the “power” that an American passport has? I’m just curious, because I have not (relative to other Western passports). Instead, it is a constant source of tension and problems (the likelihood of me being accused of being a spy seems to be exponentially higher when I am using my American passport). Many countries don’t seem concerned at all about raising the ire of the United States. They assume that the United States is too large and bureaucratic to do anything unless someone is a VIP.

      Now, will the Americans send in a special forces team to kick doors down and rescue you in a high-profile situation? Yes, and more so than any other country, which is one definite plus to having an American passport. I give the Americans a lot of credit for that. However, I’d prefer things not get to that point in the first place and I try to avoid such scenarios from unfolding. And (defending my designation of the Italian passport as the best option) Italy is a NATO member and a close American ally. I don’t believe the Americans would not act to rescue an Italian citizen if they learned of their location.

      I have not experienced getting shuffled back and forth between two countries if you own a passport for both. I can certainly see something like that happening but, in reference to the above, is it really any different to get ignored by two countries rather than just one? Again referencing the above, in a high-profile situation, I am confident that both would move to provide assistance.

      Lastly, things have changed a lot since 2006. One will be able to get into far more countries with an Italian (or any European passport) than with an American passport. And even for those countries where Americans are permitted in with a visa, Americans always pay the highest rates for a visa. For example: My British friends got their visas in Belarus for $30 each. Mine (using my American passport) was $180! The differences are not always that extreme, but as an American, you’ll always be screwed the worst on visa costs. So, even from a strictly financial perspective, one is better off using the Italian passport.

      Taking all of the above into account, I’ll stick with my choice of the Italian passport being the best choice for a second passport (Or even the primary passport if you can only pick one). And I maintain that position for entirely pragmatic reasons rather than any sort of patriotic Italian feelings.

  6. With the amount of travel you’ve done, I have to think that your opinion on this matter must be in the first slot of the short list. Not many have traveled as much as you have. I’m waiting for your book. My wife has a girl friend whose dad did two extensive obysseys, one in Africa and the Middle East and one in America. He traveled on foot and by local conveyance, lived with the locals. One of his coffee table books is Glimpses, the second More Glimpses. The girl’s dad is something of a Malaysian Indiana Jones, and a fascinating chat.

  7. Pingback: Packing For Dangerous Places « The Velvet Rocket

  8. My friend is from Ukraine but has been living in Britain for many years now and is desperate for next August when he will be eligible for a British Passport. Although the statistics for Ukraine above seem good, he finds himself having a lot more problems than the rest of us. For example going to France we were all held up for hours while they sorted out his passport where the rest of us as EU citizens were fine, and as Ukraine’s relationship with Russia grows, this will only get worse. It is also taking him months to get through his new UK visa to last until he can get his citizenship and he may have to cancel a trip to Poland if his UK visa does not arrive as he won’t be allowed back in afterwards.

    • Thank you for your comment, Harry.

      A passport from Ukraine is one of those where it would be fantastic to have in some situations and a terrible headache in others (such as your friend’s situation). On balance though, I would have to say that the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.

      Does Ukraine pay ransoms? I don’t know. I do know that in the sorts of places where ransom is a consideration that the parties involved do not distinguish much between someone from Russia and someone from Ukraine. And the Russians are not very popular in such places…

      Best,

      Justin

    • Ha, well, I suppose the grass is always greener… As I always have several projects going on at once, I never feel like I have enough free time.

      • I am not sure that only Italy pays ransoms for their citizens there is some cases of Sweden paying ransoms for it`s citizens. But in despite I am not sure If Italy would pay uncontable amounts of ransoms If were kidnaped for exemple a “convoy” of italians turists,It would coast alot for the public bank, and If they pay in some cases it`s for one or two embassadors, because although the italian people had migrated to every where the are not big travellers as australians,germans and scandinavians.My daugther for exemple has 4 passports ( some day I could post her passports in some blog ) that are: Portuguese,French and Swedish by my wife`s side(my wife has three) and one by own side Brazilian. So,If some day in some trip she would be kidnaped( May God protect her) some os those countries could suport her for sure. So, is not Italy the only that couls safe it`s citizens.

        cya take care all of you guys…

        greetings from Sweden

  9. The best passport is the Hong Kong SAR passport. Holders can even visit Russia visa free. ( There is no other passport can do it.) No terrorist group will pick Hong Kong SAR passport holders as hostages. Remember Hong Kong is not a country, you do not have to renounce your original citizenship to get a Hong Kong passport. Any person can find a job in Hong Kong and live and work for seven years in Hong Kong and apply for a Hong Kong Passport.

  10. You certainly have “first world” problems. How can you say you have not benefitted from the “power” of the American Passport when you are able to go to practically every country on this planet without having to get a visa. I have a lot of friends that would love to have the “powerless” American passport that you don’t seem to appreciate. Also, way to trivialize someone who’s head is about to be lopped off inch by gruesome inch. Have some respect and take that picture down. How entitled are you?

    • Ahh, the troll is strong in this one…

      You, JM, seem to have completely missed the spirit of this post as well as the narrow focus of it.

      Where did I say that I had not benefited from my having been born in a Western country? This is about the best passport to have, not about whether it is best to be born in America or not.

      Oh, and ask an American that has traveled to Brazil about the power of their passport versus one from another Western country…

      • Troll? lol

        I do have an American Passport and I have been to Brazil. You assume a whole lot.

        For someone who seems to have done a lot of travelling, you have learned nothing. Talk about a narrow focus.

        People have sacrificed much so you can go trolling around the planet with a heightened sense of entitlement.

        Next time you’re in a third world country, look around you and ask anyone if they want to switch places and passports with you. Then you’ll know the true power of your American passport.

        Enjoy the freedom that I’ve earned for you.

  11. You seem to have completely missed the point that this is a post about passports and not about whether it is better to be born in Haiti or America. All things being equal, most people, myself included, would naturally prefer to be born in the Western world rather than a country like Haiti.

    However, again, the focus of this post is not on the political, but rather on what is the most versatile and useful passport to have in the most amount of scenarios. That condition automatically selects for a Western passport. So, your point about asking someone in the developing world if they’d care to switch places is irrelevant. Of course, someone in a developing country would trade places for an American passport. They would also trade places for an Australian passport or a Canadian passport or a Danish passport. A more apt comparison would be to ask someone in Norway or Japan if they wanted to switch places for one of my passports.

    Now, if you had really been to Brazil, you undoubtedly would have noticed that those without American passports, breezed right in (and paid much less for doing so). Therefore, an American passport is obviously not the BEST passport to have in that situation (I’ll remind you again that the narrow focus of this post is in regard to what is the best passport to possess and not whether it is better to be born in America or Brazil).

    Or, how about the fact that the only way I got into Syria after matters kicked off there was by not using my American passport? Again, an American passport was a liability…

    And lastly, you champion of freedom, why do you believe that someone born in America should not be permitted to speculate that another passport might be more advantageous in certain circumstances?

  12. Go ahead and tell those you know that have been under the gun that they’ve done a shitty job or are doing a shitty job. I’d love to be there to see this.

    I’m no hero, bro. I served among the company of hero’s. You have no idea what you are talking about and clearly have no respect to those that have sacrificed much more than you’ll ever do yourself.

    The fact that you are assuming I sat behind the desk therefore not worth the same as the field operators, show your complete ignorance on the subject.

    I could say more but I’ve wasted your time as well as mine enough and clearly we don’t see eye to eye on this. I appreciate the well thought out response. We agree to disagree.

    Go be awesome! Peace to you.

  13. How convenient. Just when I thought we were all good. Unbelievable. lol.

    Oh and protip, if discussing passports, it is 99.9 % all political. That’s the reason we have them, because borders were determined and made via political motivations and countries allow “visitors” in, not because of the kindness of their hearts but mainly because of the political reciprocity it earns. How can you not apply the political aspect of a passport when determining what’s the best to have?

    I mean, geez, look at the picture you posted, the one that compelled me to respond initially, that’s an extreme political statement. I still think, btw, that it’s in poor taste that that pic is still up. But, it’s a free country. You’re right about that.

    Anyway, I truly mean this, be safe in your travels and have a great life. I won’t bug you anymore. I wouldn’t trade my American Passport for anything.

    • I really wonder if you actually read the post or if you just looked at the pretty pictures and ran from there. When I state that this was not a political post, most people understand that to mean that one is not promoting one political position over another. In other words, it is apolitical. This is exactly why I am not arguing that one country is better than another, but simply that IN CERTAIN SCENARIOS, SOME PASSPORTS ARE PREFERRABLE OVER OTHERS.

      You are massively oversimplifying the reasons for the existence of “visitors” and passports (did you consider the economic angle?), but your argument about political reciprocity is exactly why I am arguing that, if given a choice, running around with an American passport is not always ideal in certain circumstances. I’m having a difficult time understanding why that is a troubling concept for you. You may be proud of your American passport, but if you had an Italian passport and an American passport in your pocket, would you really pull out the American passport if you were confronted by a group of Islamic militants? If you would insist on pulling out the American passport, I belive that crosses the line from pride into stupidity.

      Please enlighten us to what is political about the picture of the barbaric reality of Nick Berg’s demise? The murder itself was political, but the photograph is now, I believe, an important reminder of the predators that one may encounter in life and what can be at stake in those encounters.

      Taste is subjective. Since you seem to like to tell other people what to do and I believe that people should be, more or less, left alone, I will assume that you and I have different tastes. If I ever find myself with the knife at my throat, I hope someone makes the most out of the video and images that come from it. But maybe that’s just me…

  14. I don’t know Justin and I don’t know you JM but you sound like a damned
    fool with these comments of yours. What makes you such an expert on any of this? What are you going to do with your American passport if you meet the wrong people? It ain’t going to help you then. It is going to make you a target to be eliminated. Why don’t you think about that.

    I served more than twenty years in the United States Marine Corps. So don’t
    try to wrap yourself in the flag with me. You can’t just say that “America
    is the best” as an argument and leave it at that as if that is the end of any intelligent discussion. America is not perfect. But this article isn’t even about that. It is about what is the best passport and I don’t think the best passport is always an American passport for all of the reasons already discussed here.

    i think Justin made good points and I would not trade my American passport either but I wish I had an Italian one to go along with my American one. I’m pretty sure that is the point Justin is making.

  15. Wow, god forbid someone has a dissenting view around here. Not only do you get called a troll but you get the third degree.

    Specifically the one where practically belittled the efforts of the men and women serving from “behind the desk”. Maybe that wasn’t your intent, but you lost me once those parts got out. You have a blog that is open for public viewing, surely, you don’t expect every opinion to mirror your own? or do you? You opened up your discussion with me by calling me a troll. How do you expect me to react?

    And John R, thank you for your service. I respect your opinions. We may have differing ones but I see where you are coming from. I’m no expert, never claimed to be one. I’m not a flag waving, fox news sheep patriot. I’m as blue as the Pacific Ocean. Live and let live.

    I had an issue with the hostage picture, my bad. Apologies to Justin if I disturbed the peace around here. Carry on.

    • You have exhibited all of the traits of a troll – right down to the fake email address.

      I honestly don’t know what you are worked up about at this point as all you have offered are empty provocations and not coherent points. If you care to muster the courage to leave a legitimate email address and have anything new to say, I am happy to respond.

      Otherwise, I’m moving on.

  16. oh wow, everyone is picking on me. Why? I’ve participated on plenty of discussions online before but never have I experienced what you just did.

    Might as well just delete all my responses. Clearly a healthy discussion is not allowed here. I never once tried to steer the conversation about the best country or where people are born. You’re the one that keeps bringing that up.

    I’m really out of here now. I promise you’ll never hear from me again. So much for an honest to goodness discourse.

    Have a great day!

    • You come one here disagreeing with everyone in a provocative manner and now you are whining because someone else disagrees with you? It’s called
      debating, son, and you have to be able to take it as well as you can dish it
      out.

      That picture you are so sensitive about reflects who are enemies are. Where
      have you been? It was all over the news when it happened and it is hardly
      controversial. Did you call CNN when they played clips from the video? Did
      you call NBC to complain? Or ABC? Hell, they all played segments of that
      video because it was newsworthy and relevant. Why don’t you see what other
      way more graphic and extreme pictures are out there?

      Also if a picture is what you are upset about, how come you are making such a fuss about politics and everything else? Why don’t you just talk straight? Like they say to someone that don’t like what they see on TV, why don’t you just change the channel instead of complaining about it and telling everyone else what they should think, feel and do.

      Who the hell are you to tell me what I should be able to see or not? I’m sick and tired of people like you.

  17. Justin this clown JM never served in the military. Or if he did, he is what we called a REMF in Vietnam. A Rear Echelon Mother Fucker! But I don’t think he did. He is just trying to cause trouble. I know he is still reading this and I guarantee you that he won’t share with us which unit her served with or what his MOS was. He’s a fake and that proves it.

  18. How about a Norwegian passport? I don’t know if that is the absolute best passport to have and I don’t know if Norway pay ransoms, but I sure wouldn’t mind having one.

    • I honestly don’y know if Norway pays ransoms for its citizens or not, Ron. I suppose that not enough Norwegians have been abducted for us to be able to find out (not that I want people to be abducted so that we can discover the answer). So, maybe that in and of itself is a strong argument for a Norwegian passport!

      Anyway, Norway certainly has good benefits for its citizens, but for the weather alone, I would stick with the Italian passport.

  19. To the velvet rocket moderator: Hey I work in IT out here in California and this JM guy is a professional troll. I know the type because it is my job to bloc them – he is the kind that has a boring, pathetic life and so has to start drama so that he feels some sense of purpose and meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. You can’t reason with them or have a friendly discussion with them. Unleash the mighty pimp hand of the moderator and bitch slap this troll out of here! He’s messing up the chi of this thread and wasting everyone else’s time that wants to talk about passports.

    With that out of the way, what do you think about camouflage passports? I can see some pros and cons. They’re a lot easier to get than a real passport and I don’t have to pay taxes in other country with a camouflage passport!

    • Meh. I bounced a couple of comments that JM attempted to leave today in which he was just making personal attacks against other commenters, but I’m not sure he is as bad as what you described… If he ever leaves a real email address, I’ll send him a message.

      Anyway, the arguments for camouflage passports are more or less the same arguments I make here for the real passports… Given the difficulties in obtaining additional (real) passports, a case can certainly be made for the camouflage passports. Although at 500 euros a pop for the camouflage passport, I was never tempted enough to pull the trigger on one – even when I just had one passport.

      Some of the camouflage passports – such as those for the USSR – would not, I believe, fool very many people as most individuals are aware that the Soviet Union does not exist any longer. However, a lower profile camouflage passport – such as from Eastern Samoa or New Hebrides – would probably pass a cursory inspection.

      However, the weaknesses are certainly there. For example, if one looks like a Westerner and runs into the type of trouble outlined in the post above, they’ll probably still be killed or abducted for looking like a Westerner. If you are abducted, you’re going to be in trouble when your kidnappers Google your information to try and figure out how much you are worth. I get accused of being a spy often enough for simply having a camera and a Western passport. So, if Johnny Jihad discovers a fake passport, I would anticipate an unpleasant execution that would probably have been preceded by a torture-enhanced interrogation of the “Western spy”. And, of course, a non-existent government will not be paying any ransoms or sending any special forces teams to bail you out.

      But, as I mentioned previously, if you are traveling on something like an American or Israeli passport and encounter our hypothetical scenario, unpleasant things will almost certainly happen to you anyway. So, I really see nothing to lose by trying the Eastern Samoan passport in a Mumbai attack situation or the equivalent. I would try it.

  20. To JM, the concept was that some passports are better than others in some situations, such as being a prisoner of jihadis. An American passport is fine in most situations but I would swap mine for some others in a flash in some situations. Back in the day, down in Hong Kong, every Chinese cutie wanted a British passport, a real Rolex, and a British boyfriend. Or an Aussie. There’s a time to wave the flag, and a time to remember that discretion is the better part of valor. Staying alive means knowing the difference.

    • Thank you, David, for the succinct paragraph that conveys what I fumbled through an inordinate amount of sentences attempting to explain…

  21. Irish Passport ? I have Both a UK and a Irish passports so i do I was born in Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom folks the UK isnt just “England” But England,Scotland,Wales, Northern Ireland= U.K…anyways Ireland otherwise know as the Republic of Ireland extends citizenship to people born on the geographical island of ireland (including Northern Ireland even though we are part of the UK) so we can claim a Irish passport as well as a UK one (or instead of a UK one as lets face it both countries are part of the EU…so a Irish passport is one im glad i have ….

    • Thank you for your comment, Paul. I didn’t know that rule with being born in Northern Ireland, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anywhere else where you get the two passports by being born in one place deal. That’s pretty nice and, yes, the Irish passport is certainly a good one to have from the perspective of EU inclusion and no one hating the Irish.

      • NO ONE HATING THE IRISH??!! My late Mother once told me I could bring home any kind of girl I wanted. She paused. Then said, except Irish or Japs. She was London born, Perth raised. She added that Northern Irish was ok, why almost Scots. She said the Irish would argue about what day of the week it was and drank too much. As for the Japs, she said she’d never forgive them for what they did to our people. A classmate survived a massacre of prisoners in New Guinea. He was an officer and led a native platoon. Captured. A Jap lieutenant had them dig their own graves, then whacked off their heads one by one. Because he was white the Aussie was done last. The sword was dulled and a sloppy stroke saved him. He crawled out after dark and found a village. Months later he got home after a long Odyssey and told his tale. Later in life almost married a Japanese TV star. I was dreading that introduction. My parents would not own any kind of Jap products. My Dad told me he’d had a belly full of Japs; they could stay on their side of the Pacific from now on and he’d stay on his side. They executed a girl friend of his in the P.Is. She was running supplies to a chap named Marcos. Bayonet in the belly, body left in the street for three days under guards. Family couldn’t claim until three days later. Humid, hot, wet, three days body don’t do well. He learned from a buddy in the resistance who got a letter out via one of our subs. Times sure have changed.

      • Ha, well, I’m taking a contemporary stance on the Irish… I had a great-aunt that absolutely hated the Irish. I’m not really sure where her dislike of the Irish came from, but she was a staunch Englishwoman (which probably had something to do with it). So, it was pretty funny when a little genealogical research on the part of my mother revealed that we had a large number of Irish ancestors. My aunt didn’t care for that…

        That’s a hell of a story about your Aussie and about your father’s friend…

  22. Pingback: An interesting and different kind of travel blog | Safe Travel Tips

  23. I have two passports, US and Polish, these days I seem to use the Polish one a lot more often without any hassles, definitely less problematic in most countries.
    I’d like to point out the main disadvantage of the US citizenship, which has not been mentioned at all in the commments, i.e. the IRS! With FBAR and FATCA coming up strong, with US passports we “can run, but can’t hide”! US passport is loosing its appeal on financial grounds, no matter how many countires we can go into visa-free…

    I have visited Italy countless times, speak pretty good Italian and love the country, so having an Italian passport holds a great appeal in general, and for the “nobody hates Italians” reasons in particular. The question is, how to get one?

    • You make a great point, ChrisB. The headaches caused by the IRS are so complicated that I didn’t even try to explain that factor above. But, yes, that is a significant disadvantage and is becoming more so.

      Getting the Italian passport isn’t easy. I took the easy route – I just married in.

    • Thank you for your comment, Phillip. Yes, Swiss and Canadian passports are certainly a good combination to have (particularly as the Swiss pay ransoms, which I was not aware of).

  24. I have both British and Chinese passports,those allow me to travel both the west and east. It’s quite beneficial for me and I believe it will be greater advantage in the future, since majority nations are required to obtain a visa before going to China.

  25. I’m a New Zealander. The situtaion you speak of about Stolen Passports did happen, but the number is far fewer than you make out to be, and I know of several NZers who have visited Iran and the Middle East with absolutely no problems at all.

    NZ passports also breeze through Europe much like a European Passport.

    • Thank you for your comment, Robyn… I think you misunderstood me. I am aware that not a large number of New Zealand passports were forged, but what is important are impressions. And in some countries a passport from New Zealand is automatically met with some skepticism as the impression exists that passports from New Zealand have been compromised. Remember, even at official government checkpoints and border crossings, you’re often not dealing with people that are very educated or sophisticated. So, you and I may know that not that many passports from New Zealand are fake, but that doesn’t mean the person you’re facing with the badge or the gun knows that.

  26. I agree that an American passport is a liability. More and more people are ditching it. 9% of Americans considered renouncing.

    That said, the UK is not part of Schengen, which makes it a bit less useful. Also, the UK is one country I wouldn’t rule out implementing citizenship-based taxation. Stick with a lesser-known country with less influence in the world.

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