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Passport power… cross-border crossing from different countries

Global views


I wonder if there will ever come a day when the double standard of differential access to countries will cease?

I recently stumbled across an interesting info graphic by Rosie Spinks for GOOD Magazine. (see also a modified version below)

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

Rosie Spinks infographic in Good Magazine

It poses the question, how powerful is your passport?

I never take for granted the privilege of possessing a Canadian passport or the opportunity to make India my adopted home.

However, just to put into perspective:

  • Canada has visa-free access to 170 countries around the world
  • Whereas India has visa-free access to only 52 countries

With a partner possessing an Indian passport, I witness regularly first-hand the additional steps required – most recently as he renewed his UK tourist visa for our upcoming Canada – UK trip.

Cross-border crossings for me are easy. For him, even though clearly he travels internationally regularly for work and pleasure, it is not so straightforward. I can take an impromptu trip to Amsterdam, whereas he cannot and most travel requires advance planning with visa applications.

So far, we are able to navigate these matters, however it breaks my heart to hear of stories where couples with different countries of origin, struggle… when love goes global, governments do not always agree!

I ask you then, what is your passport power? If you have someone else in your life, does your partner / spouse / significant other possess a different passport? How does that impact your lives?

Would love to hear your stories and invite guest posts – just drop me a line at info[at]everydayasia.com. 

Here is a version modified by move hub that may be a bit easier to read online:

Related posts:



  1. I am actually a little surprised that Taiwan passport holders [referred to on the chart as Chinese Taipei] can enter 130 countries without a visa.

    I completely relate to what you are saying. I remember when my husband and I started traveling together years ago and he needed to have an interview just to get a visa to enter Canada or the States. Luckily, things have changed and Taiwanese can entered Canada and the States without applying for a visa.

    It was not only those two countries, but he needed a visa for many more as well.

    And that is not to mention that Taiwanese need to get another ‘special’ passport just to go to China.

    • Yeah that odd Taiwan – China equation adds another ‘twist’ to the tale too, doesn’t it! For Taiwan, it seems to have gained ground with economic success… Because of the kind of visas my partner has, he no longer needs to go through an interview for the US but he did have to jump extra hoops for Canada. They were simply incredulous that he once had residency and gave it up to return to India. This is simply inconceivable to Canadian immigration authorities. 😉

  2. As I don’t have enough for a guest post (didnt really effect our lives yet) so I jus write a short form. I have both the Finnish and tge German passport (172 and 170 countries I can travel to visa free) but my wife got only the Chinese passport (43 countries) so we might face some issue when planning to travel around the world at some point :p
    Our son got both the Germand and Finnish Passport just like me however ge got also a Chinese travel document (China changed some laws in the past two years) so for the next years he can actually travel to CHina without a visa 🙂

    • Kids getting added to mix can be even more complicated! And yet your story is increasingly common.

      When I wrote about the PIO – OCI issue, my friend is Indian, her husband Canadian and her kids from her 1st marriage British…

      Another couple living in Amsterdam ran into issues – he’s Indian, she’s Japanese and their son has a Dutch passport.

      Cue confused looks at border crossings…

  3. Marta says:

    My situation is similar to Timo’s upstairs 😛 With my Spanish passport I can travel freely to 170 countries, my boyfriend has a Chinese passport and can only travel freely to 43 countries… yikes! In fact I wrote a post about this topic last year: https://martalivesinchina.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/travelling-chinese-passport/

    Luckily it seems Chinese passports are getting more benefits each year, the latest news is that they will only need a few documents to apply to Schengen visa and will get a 5 year visa with multi entries and up to 90 days stay I think it was. But for now it is only available for citizens of some cities.

  4. Alice says:

    I have a UK and an NZ passport, both of which are very useful for travelling on. My boyfriend has a South Korean one, and I had no idea they were so high up there for not needing visas! This hasn’t really affected us a lot yet, but with the research we’ve done, it does seem to be a lot easier for me to live places than him. But I think that has more to do with me having two passports and being a native English speaker (for getting jobs), than for just travelling places together. Good to know though…

    • Quite right – in terms of jobs language skill becomes critical. However, if you think about it, S Korea has its economic successes and with that seems to come opening doors to countries around the world… Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve written a fair amount of angry posts on this subject! Hopefully I will be writing a cheerful one soon! Passports and visa rules and intercultural relationships – aaarghhh!!! *pulls hair out!

  6. Although I have a US passport, that doesn’t mean I have interest in most of the visa-free countries;) On the other hand, if I ever get a passport from another country – not too remote a possibility – perhaps the good folks in Bangkok’s Chinatown could help out…(http://buildingmybento.com/2014/09/23/my-passport/)

    Do you know if Canadians now need a minder when going to Iran? For now, (sadly) the US and the UK do.

  7. Interesting… well, when I lived in London, I shared a flat for a while with a Malaysian guy of Indian descent (Punjabi). He wanted to get married to a girl he met in the UK who was also of Punjabi descent. The family (hers, not his, and her mother, in particular) initially objected, because his passport, apparently, wasn’t “good enough”.

    Until then, I had never heard of a ranking that (not only) Indians apply to passports, and he filled me in on this fascinating issue. The family was worried he only wanted to get married to upgrade his own passport status. He used to share all his woes with me, so I knew that this was definitely NOT the case, he was totally in love with this girl, besides being an all round decent, hard-working guy.

    In the end, they did get married, and they are very happy together. And there’s no more trouble from the MIL, as she passed away recently, he told me in an email. I know it’s bad, but I was kinda pleased to hear about that…

    • Ohh yes.. the ranking exists! And it isn’t just the passport… naturally.. there is the rather pronounced colour prejudice. For example, lower in the ranking is a Kenyan passport however as most of the Indian community there is wildly wealthy, much can be forgiven. But to marry a ‘black’ African with a Kenyan passport??

  8. […] strength of the different passport you can find here. This entire blogpost is partly inspired by a similar one written by Carissa Hickling from Everyday […]

  9. Bama says:

    You might have noticed that James and I often travel together around Asia. Every time we plan for where we go next we always consider how easy it is for us to travel there as James travels with a Canadian passport while I with an Indonesian one which is less powerful than Indian passport (Indonesian passport holders can travel visa-free to 47 countries). It sucks, but ordinary people like me can only hope our government negotiate with as many countries as possible to allow Indonesians to travel more freely.

    • Well put and I so hear you!

      The funny thing is, aside from the hassle of applying for visas, my partner has worked and traveled to so many countries he generally has no issues.

      Except Canada. And there is a reason. He was granted immigration, went for a bit then gave it up – voluntarily. Which is a challenge as Canadian authorities can’t seem to wrap their heads around why someone would walk away from living in Canada.

      Happy New Years to both you and James!!!

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