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Are You In The Lucky Passport Club?

In the time of Genghis Khan, Mongolian ambassadors, noblemen, and officials would travel through the vast Mongol empire carrying what was known as a “gerege.”

It was essentially the first passport. 

But instead of a little book, gereges were made of solid gold. They guaranteed the holder safe passage, protection, access to free supplies, and granted special privileges wherever they went. 

In fact, if the holder of a gerege was not allowed to pass or obstructed for any reason, the individuals responsible would be swiftly put to death by the Khans. 

Brutal, but effective. 

The gerege helped the Khans increase trade and diplomatic relations with countries all over the world. With it, they established relations with the Vatican and formed trade routes throughout Asia – including the most famous trade route of all: the Silk Road.

Today, trade is easier, communication is immediate and you don’t have to travel the world in order to sell your wares. 

But there’s still one privilege that is heavily dictated by the passport you carry, and that is… banking.

So which passports are the modern-day equivalent of Genghis Khan’s gerege? 

In other words, which passports are most useful for account opening and which ones will banker’s roll out the red carpet for?

The short answer is: first world countries that are not on high-risk or sanctions lists and don’t impose burdensome and expensive reporting requirements on banks catering to their citizens.

How Can You Know if Your Passport is High-Risk?

If you’re carrying a high-risk passport, chances are you already know it. And if not, any banker you speak to will probably let you know when you first apply for an account. 

But what are bankers actually looking for when they are examining your passport and citizenship?

Here are some things bankers will look at:

  1. Are you from the United States?
  2. Does your government impose burdensome and expensive reporting obligations?
  3. Is your country sanctioned or has it been previously sanctioned?
  4. Is the country considered “high-risk”?
  5. Is your country considered a “conflict zone”?
  6. Does your country sell citizenship by investment or offer immigrant investor programs (golden passports)?
  7. Is the country unrecognized by the global community? (e.g. Liberland, Somaliland, etc)

Any “of the above will likely result in you being flagged as a potentially high-risk applicant to the bank. And most of the time, unless you approach the application strategically, high-risk applicants do not get bank accounts open.

But that’s for another article. We run through the Unlucky Passport Club in another article and talk about the options that you have available to overcome such challenges.

Now, let’s take a look at the passports and citizenships from around the world that bankers often view as being the more desirable and lower-risk…

The Usual Suspects

Geneva, Switzerland

These are the nations that are known for stability, rule of law, and have developed economies, established financial sectors, and are generally respected around the world. This respect can come from economic or political stability, the financial health of the country or its citizens.

  • Austria 
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Luxembourg
  • Lichtenstein
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore
  • UK

The Commonwealth Countries

Auckland, New Zealand

Many former British colonies, current British dominions, and British overseas territories carry a level of clout that cannot be ignored when it comes to account opening. 

Here are the Commonwealth countries that fall into the Lucky Passport Club:

  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Collectively, these make up ‘CANZUK,’ and represent the biggest, most developed and established nations of the Commonwealth.

Still, there are some British overseas territories and protectorates in the Caribbean that are viewed less favorably and high-risk due to their propensity for corruption and illegal activities.

Asian Nations

Downtown Singapore

Asia is home to many different countries at different stages of development and with different levels of financial clout. The most reputable jurisdictions here tend to be ones that are highly developed and integrated into the global economy, or have reputable financial sectors.

  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Hong Kong

The Europeans

Hamburg, Germany

If you hold a passport from any developed European country, especially one that is prevalent on the world stage, you’re also in the Lucky Passport Club.

This, however, doesn’t include the smaller, less developed European countries that have corruption problems, smaller financial sectors, and aren’t as integrated into the international community (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Kosovo, Armenia, etc).

Lucky Passport Club members from Europe include: 

  • France
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Czech Republic
  • Iceland
  • Hungary
  • Slovenia

Surprise Exclusions

new york
New York City, United States

Insiders might wonder why we completely skipped over some of the big-name nations such as the United States, China, or Brazil. Well, instead of just leaving them without comment, head over to The Unlucky Passport Club to see what gave them this undesirable title. 

What Does This Mean For Global Banks Insiders?

If you’re already a GlobalBanks Insider, start looking at your options by using our banking intelligence reports and our private, members-only platform, GlobalBanks Insider.

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