German people might hold the world’s most powerful passport, but there’s another, extremely small group of people who travel with a rare document.
And although the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is thought to have the most obscure passport of its kind, it is not accepted in many countries, including New Zealand, the United States or the United Kingdom.
Pope Paschal recognised the sovereignty of the Catholic order in 1113, making it one of the oldest institutions in Christian civilisation.
It is a neutral, completely apolitical body that primarily concerns itself with humanitarian issues – at the moment, for example, it is heavily involved in providing medical assistance to refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to europe.
Since losing the island of Malta in 1798, this military order’s sovereign land is restricted to two extra-territorial properties in Rome, from where it issues its own postage stamps, currency and passports
The chosen few in possession of the prized passport include the grand master, deputy grand master, and chancellor of the order.
While twelve individuals also hold temporary passports for the length of their five-year term.
The current Grand Master is Fra’ Matthew Festing, only the second Englishman to occupy the role.
Despite having diplomatic relations with more than 100 states, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta doesn’t control any territory of its own and inhabits over 13,500 knights, dames and chaplains in the Order, along with 80,000 volunteers and 25,000 medical employees.
Unfortunately, despite the passports’ rarity, you won’t be able to get far if you are one of the owners though.
Countries that do not accept the Order’s passport as a legitimate form of identification include UK, US and New Zealand.
However, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia do.