Watan-Many around the world dream of obtaining a distinctive passport, but what if this passport is rare and owned by only a few? This could apply to the passport of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is held by only 500 people worldwide.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is an independent military organization with a history dating back nearly 1000 years. Founded in 1099 in Jerusalem, it was granted the Maltese archipelago in 1530 by the King of Spain, before being expelled by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798.
Despite its long and tumultuous history, marked by massacres against Muslims during the Crusades, the organization is recognized as a sovereign state without territorial control.
The organization’s budget is in the millions of dollars, covering humanitarian operations in around 120 countries. It issues passports, license plates, has its currency, stamps, and its own travel documents.
Features of the Order of Malta Passport
In the 14th century, the first passport was issued to the Knights of Malta, who traveled as recognized ambassadors to other countries. After World War II, the modern passport was introduced.
The passport is dark red and is designated for members of the Sovereign Council, diplomatic mission leaders, and their families. It is adorned with the organization’s emblem and golden letters in French, “Ordre Souverain Militaire de Malte.”
Leadership passports have a validity of 10 years, with the option for re-election for one additional term, provided they retire by the age of 85. Regular passports are valid for four years and consist of 44 pages, bearing a watermark of the Maltese cross.
Two-thirds of the Schengen Treaty member states recognize the diplomatic passport, highlighting the effective diplomatic relations of the Order of Malta.
What about Italy?
The Order of Malta has over 13,000 citizens and employs about 80,000 people from 120 countries worldwide. However, those who are not part of the Sovereign Council or the diplomatic corps can obtain an Italian passport.
Despite being a sovereign state, the Order of Malta does not have defined geographical borders, allowing its citizens to obtain Italian passports as it is located within Italy.