Passport power: We are not all equal when traveling the world

 Passport power
Today I’m talking about passport power, the crisis that thousands of people are going through when wanting to travel abroad and their passport doesn’t allow them to.

Is it even possible that being in 2017, we’re still fighting against these issues? Shouldn’t we all be able to travel wherever we want, no matter the country we’re coming from? Apparently not.

So, do we have different dreams because our passport color is different? Apparently, “yes”. If you are lucky enough and come from certain (mostly) Western countries, your passport is a jewel that offers all the freedom a human can wish for. But… (with political matters there’s always a but), If your passport says that you come from specific parts of Africa or Asia, your journey won’t be that easy and it will prove really hard to cross a lot of frontiers in OUR world.

Yes, OURS. We just want to learn, get to know different cultures and backpack as much as possible; why is that so hard to accomplish nowadays?


Regarding what your dreams or goals are, even if you just get to know our wonderful world, quite some national authorities will stop you and raise the alarm if you’re coming from a place that has an unstable government or is going through a civil war.

Traveling restrictions for everybody?

Obviously not. Being able to go wherever you please with your passport is restricted to a lucky few that come from also lucky countries. There are other ones that barely allow you to travel anywhere. And this information is quite surprising actually. Let’s check now how much freedom your passport gives you according to the number of countries citizens can visit without a visa (from top to bottom rated):

Top rated countries

  • Germany, Singapore: 159.
  • Sweden: 158.
  • Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, United Kingdom, South Korea, USA: 157.
  • Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg: 156.

Bottom rated countries

  • Sri Lanka, Lebanon, South Sudan, Ethiopia: 38.
  • Bagladesh, Nepal, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan: 37.
  • Somali: 33.
  • Syria: 31.
  • Iraq: 28.
  • Pakistan: 27.
  • Afghanistan: 24.

For further information, in Passport Index you can see the 2017 ranking complete, with the details and information of every country in the world related to the passport subject.


Passport power in the world
Source: Charts Bin




Stopped from crossing NEIGHBORING countries

Out of all the research I’ve been doing for this article, the most outstanding cases and testimonies I’ve read were from African backpackers and travelers in general; when it comes to letting them in (especially) European territory and the struggle they have to face to even traveling around Africa, whatever their purpose might be. The next paragraphs resume briefly this sad situation:

African leaders are imposing more limits than ever between their own neighbor countries. For Europeans or Americans, going from one place to another is not a problem; traveling through Europe if you “belong” to the European Union is a child’s play. However, 60% of African countries require a visa just to travel WITHIN Africa.

Let’s face it: for international governments, Africa is the source of conflicts. The requirements to get the visa upgraded or just to get one to travel (whatever your purpose is) are bigger and bigger. Even if you’re already living in a foreign country, bureaucracy that implies crossing a border is infinite. You can’t just plan your trip and go like that: sometimes it will require months and months of paperwork.

The sentence “come back tomorrow” becomes pretty recurring when dealing with immigration officers that usually give lame reasons to not accomplishing visa or passport procedures. People only want to travel and enjoy life, it shouldn’t require that much work to leave your country for a backpacker adventure- or that’s what I think it should be like.

Today it’s a “yes”, tomorrow a “no”

The traveling restrictions, as you can tell, vary from one country to another. But the fact that you have your passport in order today doesn’t mean that you will tomorrow - and the other way around, of course. These next passport changes were two of the most outstanding to me when talking to worldwide backpackers and travelers about this current situation:


For instance, China has always been a country with quite some difficulties for going abroad: they are allowed to visit 51 countries visa-free. Before 2014, Chinese immigration authorities wouldn’t let their citizens out without a visa. Now, things have changed and they can travel visa-free to the aforementioned countries but are still ranked in the 70th position along all the other “not wanted” passports, which is pretty unbelievable to me, given 122 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad last year.


On the other hand, other passports like the Lebanese one, don’t stop to set barriers for their citizens to travel abroad. Last year, the government made everyone renew their passports, without giving prior notice; almost nobody knew about the changes that were going to take place, making them pay several times in a short period of time for the same procedure. As a result, hundreds of people couldn’t leave or get in Lebanon because their passports “were obsolete”, making the traveling experience an actual hell.


As you can see, Immigration systems and visa requirements are not made for actual people who just want to wander the world, or at least not for everybody. You can travel just to the countries your own government is a friend of; crossing frontiers is becoming a chess of geopolitics, that ends up trunking the plans and hopes of millions of people who just want to have access to enjoy life freely, which is clearly a precious asset, not available for all humans. Yes… that’s where we’re heading now.

All this information makes me wonder WHY all this is happening. A simple question that not many travelers or people in general seem to have an answer to, given many of their governments just try to set walls between them and their dreams in life.


WHY can’t we be all citizens of the same world? WHY we all have to be divided by papers and invisible walls based on the color of our skin or the political situation of our country? Are they fair reasons to ban people from learning, knowing each other and exploring the world? I don’t think so. What do you think? Is this situation handleable or something needs to be done? Comment below!

Traveling as a solidary experience

Source: Franco British Chamber

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