Passports are obviously pretty important pieces of paper if want to travel the world. They come in various different designs and colours; usually blue or red, although some countries like to jazz them up a little – we’re looking over at you Vanuatu and Turkmenistan! Passports are one of the most powerful documents you’ll ever own, but they all come with varying powers depending on your issue country. You’re from Germany? Great! You get entry into 171 without having to apply for a visa before you travel, but tough luck if you’re from Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq as you can only travel to under 40 counties without a visa! But there is one passport that will grant you entry into a grand total of 0 counties: The Transnistrian passport!
What is Transnistria?
Transnistria is a Russian-speaking breakaway state of Moldova officially known as ‘The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic’. Transnistria boasts a population of just under half a million people, the majority are Russian, with the rest being mostly Moldovan and Ukrainian. Transnistria declared independence from Moldova on September 2, 1990 after a brutal two year long war. In short, a group of local Transnistrians opted to reject the policies of the newly elected pro-Romanian nationalist party in Moldova and opted to continue ties with Russia. The Transnistrian War soon followed as armed clashes broke out between Transnistrian separatists and Moldovan police and paramilitary. Thankfully a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Russians and the Moldavians and has been respected ever since.
So what about the Transnistrian passport?
These days Transnistria has its own president, currency, border and most importantly passport. The passport is very Soviet. It’s maroon in colour with the Transnistrian coat of arms printed on the front. The word ‘passport’ is written in the Cyrillic alphabet (паспорт). As with many Soviet passports the picture of the holder is in black and white. The passport is produced from old Soviet stock they had left over from the good ‘ol times! It’s all well and good having a passport from an unrecognized country, but is it any use? In a word, no! The Transnistrian passport is pretty much useless and is largely used as an ID card within the country. Transnistria is not recognised by the majority of the world with only the other unrecognised former Soviet countries of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Artsakh recognising its existence. Holders of the Transnistrian passport cannot use it to leave for Moldova or Ukraine.
So how do locals leave if the Transnistrian passport is useless?
The Transnistrian citizens have the option to take up dual citizenship with either a Moldovan, Ukrainian or Russian passport. A referendum held in 2006 showed that 97% of voters favoured association with Russia, though Russia doesn’t recognise Transnistria as a country either. However you can still guess which passport most Transnistrian citizens chose! According to passport index – the leading website for passport rankings – the wisest choice of passport for the best mobility would be Ukraine, followed by Russia then Moldova. But I don’t think the locals care too much about that!
So there we have it, the most useless passport in the world belongs to Transnistria. So next time you get annoyed at having to apply for visas, just think of the Transnistrians!