I want to talk about second passports and why — when it comes to evaluating which citizenship is best — I believe there’s a lack of information and a lack of depth in the information that’s out there. More specifically, I want to look at evaluating what a citizenship or a passport is actually worth.
Obviously, there is a distinction between these two things, and often this can be blurred in the media. So, for the sake of clarity:
Citizenship is something that you have by virtue of being a citizen of a country.
A passport is a travel document that you get as one of the privileges of being a citizen of that country.
What you need to understand is that to have a passport you need to be a citizen of the country.
When you look at it this way, there is obviously a difference in the value of citizenship versus the value of a passport, and that’s what I want to explain. Every year, a number of people in the passport sales industry come out with their own index, along the lines of “Best passports in the world.” Maybe Germany heads their list because you can travel to 177 different countries visa-free, but whichever country it is, the media runs with the story, and suddenly Germany is the best citizenship to have.
Now I think that’s a little misleading, and let me tell you why.
These rankings are built on the most basic of indices, which rank countries using the highest number of visa-free travel options. Naturally, Germany will come out on top, then you end up with 25 different countries tied for the top eight or nine spots, all basically allowing you access to more or less the same places.
When you compare the European Union, Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Singapore, with the exception of some very minor details, there’s not a lot of difference in where you can go using each passport. Truly, how much difference is there between the travel options with a Swedish or Polish passport? Does the German passport offer so much more than a Canadian one?
When you’re looking at getting a passport, especially when you’re looking at getting a second passport (which is what we talk about here at Nomad Capitalist) you need to be looking at more than just where you can go with the passport for visa-free travel.