When it comes to a passport, “power” is measured in its ability to get the traveler into a foreign country without a visa. The more countries a passport holder can visit visa-free, the more power that passport has.
PassportIndex keeps track of this, and the most powerful passport has belonged to Germany, followed closely by European nations, for some time now—but one Asian nation just edged ahead and into the number one spot.
Passport power is a measure of how trusted a country’s citizens are to behave themselves while visiting, and not overstay their welcome. Citizens of trusted countries are awarded visa-free entry to many other countries; citizens of less trusted countries, or of countries with fewer diplomatic connections, must apply for visas—which in some cases can be a lengthy and expensive process.
So, which countries’ passports offer their citizens the most mobility? Here’s the most recent ranking, compiled by PassportIndex, of passports that offer holders the most visa-free privileges:
- Singapore: (visa-free entry to 159 countries)
- Germany: (158)
- Sweden, South Korea: (157)
- Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom: (156)
- Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Portugal: (155)
- Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, United States: (154)
- Australia, Greece, New Zealand: (153)
- Malta, Czech Republic, Iceland: (152)
- Hungary: (150)
- Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia: (149)
The ranking considers 193 United Nations member countries, plus six territories. So Singapore’s score, 159, means that the country’s passport holders can visit 80 percent of the world’s countries without a visa or with a visa on arrival. U.S. citizens fare almost as well.
At the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan passport holders can only visit 22 countries without visas, presumably a reflection of that country’s political and economic instability. Other countries at the bottom of the list: Pakistan and Iraq (26 countries), Syria (29), and Somalia (34).
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.