Americans and passports

A frequently quoted statistic is the number of Americans who hold passports. I have always questioned the accuracy of this percentage which people quote as it normally sounds unbelievably low – anywhere from 5% to 20%. Travelling overseas is a normal part of life for most people in the west, particularly in Europe where countries are small in land area and have neighbours close by. In contrast, America spans a huge area and only has physical borders with Canada and Mexico. Furthermore, Americans do not require a passport to visit Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Some Americans are too poor to travel overseas and others just don't feel the need – if everything you need is in your own country, why go overseas? So, what is the true percentage…

I recently read that the correct percentage of Americans holding passports is 27% (Kayak). I would prefer to read this statistic from the American home office, but for now, Kayak is as reputable as I can find.

This number will probably rise because on January 23rd 2007, Americans will need a passport to re-enter their country when returning from Canada, Mexico and the Carribean. Perhaps these new American passport holders will also be tempted to broaden their horizons and travel further afield. This would help raise the general level of understanding of different cultures among Americans.

6 thoughts on “Americans and passports

  1. Mitch

    The Brits believe a comedian that Americans have a 10% passport rate while they have a 90% rate. The fact is that they believe anything they are told, but Americans have close to 30% rate. But the relevant fact is that 90% of the inbred island dwelers must leave the island anually to get propper health care and dental care. Have you seen the results of the NHS dental care?? Obama will bring these teeth to the US next year!!!

  2. Beth


    Leaving aside dentistry which this government seem to have got completely wrong and they seem to be having trouble accepting (I work in an office where I am one of two people with an NHS dentist – about 5 people seeing private dentists)

    I have a general practitioner I can see on the same day at no cost to myself. I was treated for an accident two years ago immediatly and at no cost to myself. Last year I got counselling on the NHS at no cost to myself other than £7 for each pack of drugs. I have been outside the UK a lot but never for medical care.
    I have had good treatment on the NHS as did my mother when she was suffering from cancer.

    I note we have largely had positive comments from americans who have used our services. Maybe you would like to visit so you can give an informed opinion.

    I can’t comment on US healthcare as I’ve been to the states about 5 times but never visited a hospital.

  3. Flayton

    Well well, what do you know…heres Mitch, pushing the old ‘THE U S of A is the greatest and most perfect country in the WORLD!’ conceited bullsh!t again. As an Australian, let me first say that i have NO problems with America. Unlike some, i recognise the USA for its good points, the friendship that exists between our countries and the debt to which we owe America for its assistance in protecting our country during the second world war….but heres the bottom line mate. Sorry to say but Americans can be HORRENDOUSLY ignorant and conceitedly proud to the point of blindness about their own country. Ive traveled extensively and the Americans ive met have either fallen into 2 categories. The ones who HAVE traveled with their eyes and minds open, seen the world and been exposed to other ways of life and have come to the (self-admitted) realisation that their own countrymen live to a degree in a paranoid self deluded bubble of superiority …and then of course there are the other much dreaded type who cruise around loudly spouting the superior virtues of their own way of life and bemoaning the fact that this or that ‘isnt like that at hooooome’….tragic (not to mention annoying). The accurate figure of American passport holders is 27%…..which does say something about these rich first worlders who are either too afraid or just plan disinterested in others cultures and people to ever leave their PERFECT Land of the ‘Free’…..And Beth has a point…neither England NOR Australia leave people bleeding on the hospital steps because they’re not carrying the right card……maybe you want to go on another tangent OTHER than your health system….perhaps your PERFECT race relations?? (hahah i notice my country is currently copping some high and mighty stick from your media over just that right now. Hypocrisy is alive and well, good to see!) Anyway, just had to get that off my chest..have a good day our cross-continental friends.

  4. Sian

    Poor bloke seems to think we give a toss what he thinks. Which is very American of him. He uses dentistry as an argument?? predictable too..And wow, this 1st world country of his has nearly 30% passport holders? Gold star…you guys are really so cultured and not at all insular or self absorbed..(when I used my passport, to travel the states, I met an surprising amount of people who’d barely left their own state, let alone their own country). And lastly, he thinks it’s just the British who have observed this?

  5. Scott

    Flayton, my friend, chill out. We all are not like Mitch. I personally love to travel, but one thing about living here is that there is so much to see, you really could live your life just exploring what we have here. I do travel abroad and enjoy the experiences, but I personally and objectively like the things we have here and explore new places every year and occasionally go back to my favorites.

    I have some friends coming from New Zealand this year and they lived here for a few years and I’m pretty sure they liked it here too.

    I think the Mitches of the world get on everyone’s last nerve…

    I have mixed feelings on various healthcare plans around the world. Who really knows what’s best? There’s always ones who get advantages over others, even on the “free” systems. I personally have no complaints on my meager private healthcare plan, my cholesterol is down 15% and have lost 20 lbs. over the past year. Healthcare starts at home….eat healthy!

  6. Pam

    I believe that most Americans do not have passports for two simple reasons. One is the expense of traveling overseas. The average American family cannot afford this expense, so why get passports? The second reason is lack of vacation time.

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