Foreign Affairs
The rarest passport in the world has connections with Malta

The Order of the Knights of St John has its own passport, although only one permanent one is used for the Grandmaster.

Another 12 people have a temporary passport for five years. These include the Knights who have the title of Grand Commander, Grand Chancellor and Grand Hospitaller.

This Catholic Order, which was recognized by Pope Pascal in 1113, is one of the oldest institutions in Christian civilization. It has diplomatic relations with 106 countries and with the EU.

It is a neutral Order and today works in favour of humanitarian causes, for example, at the moment it is involved in providing medical assistance to refugees who have crossed the Aegean sea into Europe.

The Order also has permanent observer status within the United Nations which gives it access to carry out humanitarian work in the regions which are hit by crises.

Since the Order left Malta in 1798, the Knights have been restricted to two properties in Rome from where it issues its stamps, its currency and passports.

Today, the Order of the Knights of St John operates as a charitable organization which offers medical assistance around the world. It is made up of 13,500 knights, dames and chaplains together with 80,000 permanent volunteers and 25,000 employees.

Fra Matthew FestingCountries which do not accept the Order’s passports include the UK, the US and New Zealand.

The Order’s Grandmaster is Fra’ Matthew Festing (sixth from the left in the photo) the second Englishman to occupy this role. 

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