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One thing that many of us with US passports don’t think about is how easy world travel is with a US passport.  The United States has a relatively “powerful” passport, with either visa on arrival or visa-free entry to 154 countries

a map of the world

CC BY-SA 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons

Even though we just wrote about how the US passport is slightly LESS powerful in 2017 (now behind 18 other countries), unless you’re going to Central Africa, with a US passport you are unlikely to need to worry about getting a visa to most other countries in the world.

Visa troubles that Americans don’t have

In one of my news and notes posts a few weeks ago, I linked to the story of an Indian backpacker who lamented her difficulty in getting a visa to remain in Thailand.  While her English husband (as well as citizens of the US and many other countries) can apply for a Thai visa from anywhere, she got the runaround from border officials, airline gate agents, embassy employees and more

Of course there are a few countries where having a US passport is a hindrance.  Brazil for one requires a visa (and $160 charge) for US citizens while citizens of the EU among other countries can enter visa-free.

[How to get a new passport in 1 day]

The new status symbol of the ultra-rich

According to the Telegraph, it is no longer the luxury homes or fancy yachts that are the status symbol of the ultra-rich – instead it is the passport.

Many countries have citizenship by investment programs (CIPs), which allow people to pay / invest money and receive citizenship in the target country, including a passport that may be much more useful than the individual’s original passport.  CNN has also reported on this, and the following countries either have CIPs or are investigating starting them.

  • Dominica
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Grenada
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • Portugal
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Moldova
  • Malta
  • Montenegro

The Telegraph reports that Chinese businessmen are among the most frequent applicants for CIPs, since Chinese passports only allow visa on arrival or visa-free access to 60 countries.  So a Chinese businessman with a business meeting in, for example, the United Kingdom would have to spend days / weeks / months (and money!), putting him or her at a disadvantage to a businessman from the USA, EU or another country with a more powerful passport.  Getting a 2nd passport from say St Kitts and Nevis (127 countries) or Moldova (105) can make a big difference!

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