Is there a one visa or any paper that lets you enter (almost) any country in the world? For example, you are trusted and record-free citizen of couple countries and you sign something that makes you allowed to enter (almost) any country.

  • The only way such a system could function would be if there was an unbiased supranational organization to issue such. While there is the UN, it is still subjected to politics and not embraced by all nations.
    – user13044
    May 17 '16 at 2:53
  • You could be Bono. Who's going to refuse Bono? May 17 '16 at 3:13

There is no such visa. Every country has its own entry requirements, which will depend on your citizenship, purpose of your visit, and other criteria. While there are some supranatural agreements (Schengen being the most significant) that grant visa holders access to more than one country, every nation considers its ability to admit and refuse foreigners as an element of its national sovereignty and would be highly unlikely to sign on to some kind of global visa scheme like this.

Now, it is the case that some passports grant more visa-free access than others. Various groups attempt to rank passports based on this, you can see one such ranking at The Passport Index. You'll see that German and Swedish passport holders have visa-free access to much of the world, with many European nations, the US, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand enjoying similar levels of access. As you go down the list, more countries require visas in advance.

However, there are still caveats to such access. Even a mighty German passport-holder still needs to complete the online ETA process to visit Australia. People found ineligible through that process will generally need to obtain a visa to be allowed in. You can argue semantics all day (and diplomats do) about whether Australia's ETA, the US's ESTA, Canada's eTA, etc... are really visas or not, but at the end of the day, they are hoops a traveler has to jump through before they're allowed to travel to a country. Other countries issue a "visa-on-arrival," which can be as simple as a counter where you pay a fee to get a stamp.

Also note that, even with a visa, pretty much every country reserves the right to refuse entry at the border. Visas are also granted for particular purposes and durations of stay. Even though I, as an American, don't need a visa to visit the UK as a tourist, I would need one to get a job there or enroll in a university. In addition, the waiver of a visa requirement doesn't normally waive the need to comply with other parts of immigration law, so you could still be refused on the basis of a criminal record, lack of funds, failure to demonstrate an intent to leave, etc... even though you don't need a visa.

In short, immigration law differs significantly from country to country, and there's no reason any nation would sign onto a universal visa like this. Even if such a thing existed, any country could still refuse you entry based on its own laws.


I'll bite. A UN passport (indeed, not a visa, but still only one document).

  • 1
    Do you mean a UN Laissez Passer? Some countries require those traveling on a UNLP to have a visa. Some countries require the bearer of a UNLP to travel on their national passport. The US, for example, requires bearers of a UNLP traveling on official business to have a visa in the national passport (I suppose they might make an exception for stateless UN employees).
    – phoog
    May 17 '16 at 2:47
  • There are indeed countries that impose more restrictions on UNLP passport-holders than would be the case if they traveled on another passport. It's often the case that countries have stricter rules for visitors on diplomatic or official passports, since such people are not generally acting as standard tourist or business visitors. It's easy for a country to refuse entry to almost anyone, but it can spark a minor international incident to refuse entry to a foreign official, so such things are better worked out through advance notice through each country's foreign services. May 17 '16 at 2:51
  • @ZachLipton in my experience, "advance notice through each country's foreign services" takes the form of a visa application. No doubt at higher levels, there's more to it, but for most staff and officers of the UN and its agencies, there's generally not.
    – phoog
    May 17 '16 at 2:53
  • This does bring up my favorite visa fun fact though, which is that the US is obliged by treaty, as the UN Headquarters host country, to admit basically anyone (usually) who needs to participate in UN business. But they can restrict them from leaving a 25 mile radius from Columbus Circle in New York without prior permission if they're from a country the US isn't particularly fond of. May 17 '16 at 3:00

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