Some passports hold more global power than others, largely determined by the number of countries permitting visa-free travel for their citizens. Additionally, factors like political stability, diplomatic ties, economic influence, and regional agreements contribute to a passport's strength.
Among the world's most potent passports is the Japanese passport, granting visa-free access to 193 countries, a testament to its esteemed standing.
While extensive visa-free travel is appealing, the world's rarest passport belongs to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Recognized as a sovereign entity with observer status at the United Nations and governed by a constitution, the Order issues passports, among other items.
Originating in the 1300s, the Order initially issued passports to diplomats. These evolved post-World War II to resemble passports of various nations. Currently, only around 500 diplomatic passports exist globally, making them exceedingly rare.
The distinctive crimson passport, possibly symbolizing Christ's blood, is exclusively for Sovereign Council members and diplomatic leaders and their families. Passports for government members have variable validity, with Grand Masters enjoying a decade, reflecting their tenure and mandatory retirement by age 85. Other passports last four years, tied to specific assignments.
These passports, with 44 pages and a Maltese cross watermark, lack embellishments like images or quotes.
Although some countries, like the US, UK, and New Zealand, don't recognize the passport, it's accepted in 120 countries. Despite lacking formal diplomatic ties, the Order collaborates closely with nations like France, the UK, and the US.
The Order's commitment to global well-being is evident through its humanitarian efforts, including rapid medical and aid supply during conflicts or disasters. Engaged in 120 countries, the Order runs hospitals, ambulance corps, homes for the elderly, and more, emphasizing its dedication to global welfare.