All that is wrong with the world…

November 8, 2011

Is an American passport the best passport to hold for travel?

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:17 pm

I was talking with a friend of mine recently who was sure that an American passport was the most powerful. I started wondering about this as while it seems reasonable, I don’t think it is actually so. It would seem that the commonwealth countries have a more powerful passport for a few reasons.

  1. The commonwealth countries are able to participate in Working Holiday programs run by most western governments pretty much except the US. Such programs operated on a reciprocal basis and since the US doesn’t want to offer working holidays, holders of a US Passport can’t do a working holiday on that basis.
  2. Less restricted travel. Holders of a commonwealth passport can go to countries that the US restricts its citizens from traveling to, such as countries like Afghanistan or Iran. To my knowledge most commonwealth countries don’t prevent their citizens from going to such countries, even if it is a warzone. Not to mention being able to go to Cuba without having to hide it.
  3. Holders with a commonwealth passport get longer in other commonwealth countries. For example most people from a commonwealth country will get six months in the UK, while holders of a US passport only get three.

I am unable to think of any advantages a US passport has over a commonwealth passport. I would have thought commonwealth passports were essentially equal to a US passport, but given the above advantages it would seem that are actually better to have. I would be interested to hear any thoughts on this.


  1. In some countries birder officials might also have a bad attitude or delay people from certain countries (often US). US passport holders also need a visa for Brazil. I always though Swiss, Canadian and Australian passports would be better as these countries are somewhat more neutral.

    Comment by Tihomir — November 8, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  2. Thanks for blogging on this great subject! I think more individuals need to travel abroad. I work with work, study and volunteer exchange programs in the US. I am asked on a regular basis for assistance with working holidays in the UK and other countries and I can only offer Australia. Australia is great but having a single choice is not really a choice. The more I research to assist my clients the more I learn how restricted we are. Another interesting fact regarding the reciprocal nature of all these programs is the visa cost. The US charges higher visa fee’s therefore Americans pay higher fees to obtain visa’s in many other countries then those of other travelers. I am very interested to see how will affect our participation in the steady forming global society.

    Comment by Lifexchange LLC — November 9, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  3. I am citizen of cameroon, which is actually a commonwealth country, How i get entitled of commonwealth passport ? and if yes how do i go about applying for it.
    Look forward for your response

    Comment by will — January 11, 2012 @ 7:43 am

  4. Since you seem to have a rather popular blog and some people that read you stuff, I think for their sake and maybe your own you should do some research.
    The United States doesn’t restrict its citizens from going to any country. The United States doesn’t even observe that right with any such law. They can control travel to a place by making it hard to visit as in Cuba. Even countries that we are technically at war with are not on any list.
    Will you face resistance? Is it hard? Yes. Traveling to Iran for an American is a difficult process yet thousands do every year.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 5, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    • While it isn’t technically illegal to visit Cuba, it is illegal to spend money there, which is essentially the same thing. That fact that people are not prosecuted for it doesn’t change the fact.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 11, 2012 @ 2:06 am

  5. Funny thing about this post is that pretty much all of it is wrong 😉

    1. FYI Americans can do a working holiday in New Zealand.
    2. There are no banned countries for Americans
    3. Commonwealth nations do not all have same visa rights, just as not all EU passports are the same.

    So if I had to pick one it’d be UK – access to working holiday programs and visa waivers around the world – and you can live anywhere in EU. Western European passports are good for that too. Australian, Canadian, Japanese & New Zealand passports let you have loads of working holiday programs as well. I think I should write a detailed blog post about this.

    Advantage of an American passport over any of these above nations? You get to live/work in the USA 🙂

    Comment by Roy Marvelous — April 26, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    • If I’m wrong, I will happily update my post with corrections.

      Perhaps you could support what you say with some evidential links, as I have been unable to find any.

      1. America does not partake in any official working holiday program. There is something similar the US has with a few countries, namely NZ and Oz, but it isn’t the same thing.
      2. Cuba. It’s not just hard to get to, you’re not meant to go, at least if you intend on spending money there.
      3. I didn’t say they did.

      In the end it seems you agree, that a commonwealth passport is the best for traveling.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 11, 2012 @ 2:22 am

  6. I also think its easier to obtain some visa’s from a UK passport to most countries.

    Comment by jules j — September 16, 2012 @ 2:53 am

  7. I would say that the US passport doesn’t even come close to the vast majority of its W. European counterparts (EU, Swiss etc). For half of south America you need, along with Canadians, a painful and not cheap visa that takes at least 2 weeks to get (tax return forms, certified photo etc, etc) – believe me, I just went through this to get my Brazilian visa. As for Cuba, yes you can, except that there are no flights from the US – a minor inconvenience?

    Comment by James — December 11, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

    • That’s an interesting point with regard to Latin America…I had though most countries in that region would still let American tourists in with out too much trouble.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 5, 2014 @ 9:38 am

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