The Sovereign Military Order of Malta issues the world’s rarest passport, with only a few hundred people possessing one. As of February 2018, there were around 500 diplomatic passports in circulation. Eligibility for this passport is exclusive and limited.
However, the passport’s utility is restricted, as countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand do not accept it for travel. Furthermore, many other countries and territories enforce similar rules. Out of the 26 Schengen Area member countries, only 23 recognize the passport.
Established in 1113 and officially recognized by Pope Paschal, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is among the oldest Christian institutions. The Order’s full title is “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta,” reflecting its historical development and various headquarters over the centuries. The Order comprises over 13,500 knights, dames, and chaplains, alongside 80,000 volunteers and 25,000 medical employees. Although it does not govern any territory, it maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 states.
The Order primarily operates as a charitable organization, providing medical aid worldwide. Passports are issued for four-year terms, allowing holders to carry out diplomatic assignments. In addition to passports, the Order also produces its own postage stamps and currency. Despite its unique status, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta passport is far from being one of the world’s most powerful passports.