A travel document usually issued by a country’s government to its citizens for the purpose of international travel is called a passport. If every country in the world issues a passport, does that mean they are all the same? The answer is NO, they are not the same. Obtaining passports from certain countries gives more privileges than others.
So what are the benefits of owning the most powerful passport? And what actually makes these passports powerful? Well, one of the benefits of owning a powerful passport is increased mobility. This means the holder of the passport can visit a lot of countries without a visa, pretty cool right? The holder is able to travel to countries including the United States, China, Japan and the United Kingdom visa-free or visa-on-arrival. This makes traveling more convenient as it takes away a lot of paperwork involved in taking international trips. Passports are ranked based on the number of travel destinations they can get to conveniently.
There are several indexes created to rank the most powerful passports in the world with regards to the access they provide to their citizens. These indexes are created by financial firms. Two notable indexes are the Henley Passport Index and the Arton Capital’s Passport Index. How do they work?
The Henley passport index started in 2006. It gives a ranking of the 199 passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free. The number of countries a specific passport can access becomes its visa-free score. This score is not assumed, but rather the Henley Passport Index gets its data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. The data is updated in real time all year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
However, the Arton Capital’s Passport Index considers 193 passports which are member countries of the United Nations and six territories; Vatican, Kosovo, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Palestinian Territory and ROC Taiwan. This index excludes territories annexed to other countries. This index ranks passports based on a “total visa-free score”, assigning a point for each country their holder can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival or by receiving an electronic travel authorization. The country with the highest visa-free score is considered to have the most powerful passport.
List of the Most Powerful Passports in 2020
Due to the covid-19 pandemic outbreak, a lot of countries temporarily closed their borders to avoid further spread of the virus. Although at the moment some travel restrictions have been lifted, things are still far from going back to normal.
What effects do these travel restrictions have on our passport indexes? You probably guessed right, the restriction affects our indexes by reducing their index scores. Countries are now able to access less destination than they used to.
This list was compiled using data gathered by the Henley Passport Index, it shows us how truly powerful these passport were before restrictions were made when covid-19 struck.It doesn’t take into account recent restrictions made due to the Covid-19 virus.
Here is our list of the most powerful passports in the world:
On our list is the Japanese passport with a Henley index score of 191, securing its position as the most powerful passport in the world. This means one with this passport can visit 191 countries visa-free, isn’t that great? Seems like a good time to be born in Japan. This island country is located in East Asia, known worldwide for its traditional arts, calligraphy and flower arranging. The countries the Japanese passport can visit includes the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and many more.
Coming closely behind Japan is Singapore taking second place. Singapore is a wealthy city-state in Southeast Asia. It is famed for its conservatism and some strict laws. The Singaporean passport can visit 190 countries visa-free. This includes India, Japan, France, Cape Verde and many other countries. This makes the Singaporean passport one of the best passports you can have.
Germany / South Korea
The German and South Korean passport comes up third on our list with a visa free score of 189. Germany is the first European country to make our list accompanied by South Korea, an East Asian nation which is famous for its exciting music culture around the world.
Finland / Italy
Finland and Italy walk hand-in-hand as they assume the fourth position with a free visa score of 188. Like others coming before them on our list, they have access to visit European, American, African, Asian and Oceania countries.
Denmark / Luxemburg / Spain
Our first trio come up fifth on the list. With any of these passports in hand you can visit about 187 countries visa free in the world.
France / Sweden
Our sixth position is occupied the Scandinavian nation, Sweden, and accompanied by France. The French and Swedish passports give you access to 186 travel destinations visa free.
Austria / Ireland / Netherlands / Portugal / Switzerland
These five European countries come seventh place with access to over 185 destinations visa free. Making each of them one of the best passports you can have.
Belgium / Greece / Norway / United Kingdom / United States
Four European countries tie with the United States to hold the eighth position. If you’re a citizen of any of these countries, you have access to 184 countries visa free.
Australia / Canada / Czech Republic / Malta / New Zealand
With over 183 visa free travel destinations, the passport of these countries gives you the ability to travel around the world more conveniently.
Hungary / Lithuania / Slovakia
If this is the first time you’re hearing about Lithuania then you’re in luck. Lithuania is a wealthy country in the Baltic region of Europe famed for its beautiful landscapes, abundant forests, lakes, and marches. Lithuania together with two other European countries comes in tenth place with access to over 181 travel destinations.
Iceland / Latvia / Slovenia
With Iceland located at the juncture between the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, while Latvia is located at Balkan sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Then Slovenia at Central Europe. Having a passport from any of these countries give you access to 180 travel destinations.
Known for having two Unesco World Heritage sites, the Estonian passport gives you the opportunity to access other beautiful regions across the globe. With a free visa score of 179, many doors are open for you.
Liechtenstein / Malaysia
At the thirteenth spot we have a European and an Asian country. Both offering its passport holders access to 178 travel destinations.
Famous for its beautiful cities, diverse geography and much more. The Polish passport offers access to 176 countries visa-free.
Also referred to as the “Billionaires’ playground”, Monaco offers its password holders 175 locations to visit with ease.
Chile / Cyprus
Located in the Middle East is Cyprus. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus accompanied by Chile a country in South America known by its inhabitants as the “country of poets” gives their citizens visa free access to over 174 countries.
This European country famed for its Carpathian Mountains, wines, and many other notable things including Dracula offers its citizens a passport covering 172 countries visa free.
Bulgaria / United Arab Emirates
The oldest city in Europe, Bulgaria and the Middle-eastern tourist haven, UAE tie at the eighteenth position. With individual passports giving its holders visa free access to 171 travel destinations.
Argentina / Brazil
Both countries are located in South America and very famous for their iconic football players. The Brazilian and Argentinian passports offers its citizens a free visa score of 170 countries.
Croatia / Hong Kong (SAR China)
Europe and Asia tie again on our list. Sharing the twentieth position we have Croatia and Hong Kong. Despite being at this position they don’t disappoint. They offer visa free access to 169 countries.
The world’s oldest republic, San Marino, is a mountainous country located in Europe. It holds the twenty-first spot on our list with a passport able to visit 168 countries in the globe without the need for a visa.
Situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains the tiny nation called Andorra. Taking the twenty-second position with a passport powerful enough to visit 167countries in the world.
Famous in South-east Asia for its gorgeous mosques and Islamic architecture is Brunei. The Bruneian passport covers 166 travel destinations.
If you’re a fan of tropical islands then you’d love the Caribbean island country called Barbados. It is known for its pearlescent white beaches and warm azure waters. Also, it’s the birthplace of famous pop-singer Rihanna. Barbados gives its citizens a passport that open the doors to 160 countries.
The ancestral homeland of the Jews, Israel gives its passport holders 159 travel destinations to choose from.
Did you know Mexico is the origin of chocolates? Well, now you know. This North American country can visit over 158 destinations.
Bahamas / St. Kitts and Nevis
The Bahamas is quite popular, did you know about St. Kitts and Nevis before now? Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation. Situated between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Their passports gives its carriers access to 154 travel destinations.
This is a country situated in South America and also the birthplace of the Tango dance. Its passport covers 153 travel destinations.
An African country finally shows up on our list. Seychelles which is located in East Africa is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. This beautiful location serves as a tropical, luxury honeymoon hotspots. It offers its citizens visa free access to 151 countries including Spain, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and many others.
Antigua and Barbuda
Positioned where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, this island country is famed for its reef-lined beaches, rainforests and resorts. Its passport holders are granted visa free access to 150 travel destinations.
Costa Rica / Trinidad and Tobago / Vatican City
Taking the thirty-first position on our list is a trio of a Central American country, islands in the Caribbean and a European city state respectively. If you happen to own any of these passports, you have access to 149 destinations.
Mauritius / St. Vincent and the Grenadines / Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)
Another African country makes our list. Mauritius is an Eastern African island nation known for its beautiful beaches, reefs and lagoons. Also, another Caribbean island nation called Saint Vincent and Grenadines and an East Asian country, Taiwan forms this trio. Their passports grants its carriers 146 travel destinations to choose from.
Saint Lucia is located in the Caribbean. It is home to volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, luxury resorts and village fishing. The St. Lucian passport offers its holders visa free access to 145 travel destinations including Hong Kong, Hungary, Austria, Argentina and many more.
Macao (SAR China)
This Asian country has a reputation of being the “Las Vegas of the East”, Macau is famed for its gambling. Its passport has a visa free score of 144. Giving its citizens convenient travel to 144 destinations.
Grenada / Paraguay.
At the northern axis of America, we have a Caribbean country called Grenada. As we go down south we have Paraguay. These countries offer visa free travel to 142 destinations.
This country links the Central and South of America. Renowned for its amazing canal, the country also boasts of its natural attractions including birding, white-water rafting and snorkelling tours. Its citizens get a passport that offers them visa free access to 140 travel destinations.
It will be important to know that Dominica is different from the Dominican Republic. Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island nation with richly vegetated tropical rainforests and hot springs. The passport from this country offers its holders visa free access to 139 travel destinations.
Serving as home to a section of the Amazonian rain forest and an ancient Incan city called Machu Pichhu, Peru is located in South America. It offer a passport capable of accessing 135travel destinations without the need of a visa.
El Salvador / Honduras / Serbia.
Central America meets with Europe in this trio as El Salvador and the Honduras from Central America share this position with the Serbia, which is located in Europe. These countries offer their citizens passports that grant them access to 133 travel destinations.
Guatemala / Venezuela
The Americas takes the fortieth position on our list with a visa free score of 132. Guatemala is the third biggest country in Central America while Venezuela prides itself of having the world’s largest known oil reserves.
Samoa / Solomon Islands
With a visa free score of 131, these Oceania nations boast of richly vegetated tropical islands that serve as tourist attractions.
This South Pacific Ocean nation contains about 80 islands, with a land mass of over 1,300 kilometers. The number of destinations its passport can access about 130.
Nicaragua / Ukraine
Known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”, Nicaragua is also home to the second-largest rain forest of the Americas. Ukraine is a large country located in Eastern Europe, known for its orthodox churches and Black sea coastline. The passports these countries offer gives them access to 128 travel destinations
Located in Oceania, Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom containing more than 170 South Pacific islands. The Tongan passport takes the forty-fifth position on our list, giving its holders visa free access to 125 countries.
This Balkan country situated in Europe offers its holders 124 visa free travel destinations to choose from
Known for its history as one of the world’s great empires, Macedonia is South-eastern European country that boasts of an free visa score of 123.
Columbia / Tuvalu
The South American country of Columbia and the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu occupy our forty-forth position with its passport opening the doors of 127 travel destinations.
Kiribati / Marshall Islands
Both countries are found in Oceania with numerous tropical islands. The passports offered by these countries offer 122 travel destinations.
Best known for its delicious wines, this Eastern Europe country and former Soviet Republic gives its Moldovan passport holders 120 destinations to visit.
Last on our list but definitely not the least, Palau, also known as the ‘jewel of Micronesia’. This archipelago of 500 islands located in Oceania offers its passport holders 119 travel destinations to visit.
Well, there you have it. A list of fifty powerful passports in the world. If these are the most powerful passports, which countries have the worst passports in the world? I’ll leave that research for you to undertake at your spare time.
A passport is a portal to the world for some people. For others, it is an obstacle to the travel freedom they seek. What is your passport to you? A portal to the numerous destinations you seek or is it a limitation?