Anyone who’s travelled internationally has arrived at airports and seen the different lines that have been set up for different passport holders; some being expedited through automated systems, others needing to wait to have their passport checked, often with pre-organised Visas embedded. But some passports are more powerful than others. The most powerful provides visa-free access* to 177 countries (out of 218), while the least powerful provides access to only 25. So where does your passport rank?
If you’re in Australia, you’re sitting 8th on the list, with 169 countries providing visa-free access. New Zealand beats us ever so slightly with 171 – which they tie with Greece in 7th position. The United Kingdom is currently 3rd with 175, though post-Brexit you would expect them to drop down the list in coming years. Topping the list is Germany, with 177, while Sweden sits just behind it at 176.
The highest ranking countries in Asia are Singapore and Japan, which both are in 5th place, with 173 countries. South Korea isn’t far behind at 172, though North Korea is on the other end of the spectrum, with only 42 countries, sitting it in 10th place on the least powerful index. The majority of countries in the top 10 are located in Europe, while the Middle East dominates much of the bottom ten; Afghanistan coming in at the top of that list, with access to only 25 countries.
But this is far from a static list; border rules change yearly, though visa-free access has been shown to improve all over the world in recent years, with no country dropping more than three positions in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, gains of up to 33 ranks have been seen elsewhere (Timor-Leste). Columbia and Palau also saw huge gains, with 25 and 20 spots respectively.
The rankings have been compiled by citizenship and planning firm Henley & Partners. The ten best and ten worst passports can be found below, and you can see more at the interactive Visa Restrictions Index.
The Most Powerful Passports
1. Germany – 177 countries
2. Sweden – 176 countries
3. Finland, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom – 175 countries
4. Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, United States – 174 countries
5. Austria, Japan, Singapore – 173 countries
6. Canada, Ireland (Republic of), Korea (Republic of, South), Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland – 172
7. Greece, New Zealand – 171 countries
8. Australia – 169 countries
9. Malta – 168 countries
10. Hungary, Czech Republic, Iceland – 167 countries
The Least Powerful Passports
1. Afghanistan – 25 countries
2. Pakistan – 29 countries
3. Iraq – 30 countries
4. Somalia – 31 countries
5. Syria – 32 countries
6. Libya – 36 countries
7. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Nepal, Palestinian Territory, Sudan – 37 countries
8. Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen – 38 countries
9. Bangladesh, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Lebanon, Sri Lanka – 39 countries
10. Burundi, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of, North), Myanmar – 42 countries
*Just about every country in the world require visas from some countries holding passports from certain countries. These restrictions are in place to provide tighter control of border crossing, usually based around diplomatic relationships between countries, including agreements between Commonwealth Countries, those in the Eurozone etc