So, you’ve decided to finally get your first passport, or are already the proud owner of one and used it to travel the world. Congratulations. Since 2005, over ten million US passports have been issued every year, yet only about a third of Americans have one.
The US Passport is certainly in the top twenty out of the 200+ national passports in existence, offering access to 155 countries without a visa. Granted, this number changes year by year; in 2012, Americans could visit 166 countries visa free. Yet there are a few countries giving its citizens greater access to the world. Germany, for one, can visit a number of South Pacific island nations without a visa – though Americans can generally get ones on arrival.
These statistics are only used to determine accessibility by tourists. When working visas become part of the equation, we see a different picture. Take the United Kingdom. Citizenship to the UK includes EU citizenship – for now, anyway – giving the British the ability to work in 28 countries across Europe without a permit. US passport holders have working holiday visa (WHV) relationships with certain countries, but in this regard, other nationalities also have greater access, with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand leading the pack. Americans can work in only five countries with a WHV: Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Ireland.
Despite these shortcomings, however, being a US citizen is clearly more conducive to traveling without restrictions than those in developing nations and even some European countries. Our economic status and reciprocal relationship with tourists affords us that right.