A Measure of Passport Power
16th of June 2018
In 1984, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, passed a law offering citizenship to individuals who “made a substantial investment in the state” and were of good character and not a threat to the country. Since then, other Caribbean nations such as Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada have introduced their own programs which allow for those willing to pay a substantial fee the opportunity to easily acquire a 2nd passport.
For consulting firms in the residence and citizenship-by-investment industry, there is a need to rank the ‘quality’ or ‘power’ of different passports. One such firm – Henley & Partners – publish the Henley Passport Index (also known as the Freedom of Movement Index), which is an annual ranking of all the passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free.
The ranking is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains a comprehensive database of global travel information. The IATA data is augmented by in-house research conducted by Henley & Partners itself.
The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
For each travel destination, if no visa is required for passport holders from a country or territory, then a score with value = 1 is created for that passport. A score with value = 1 is also applied if passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit, or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) when entering the destination. These visa-types require no pre-departure government approval, because of the specific visa-waiver programs in place.
Where a visa is required, or where a passport holder has to obtain a government-approved electronic visa before departure, a score with value = 0 is assigned. A score with value = 0 is also assigned if passport holders need pre-departure government approval for a visa on arrival, a scenario not considered ‘visa-free’.
The total score for each passport is equal to the number of destinations for which no visa is required (value = 1), under the conditions defined above.
Most Powerful Passports
The latest index was published in May of 2018 and can be accessed here. Currently the Japanese passport is the most powerful in the world, allowing its citizens to enter 189 out of 218 countries and territories without a visa.
The current top ten most powerful passports (including number of countries granting visa-free travel) are:
- Japan – 189
- Germany, Singapore – 188
- Finland, France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Sweden – 187
- Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States – 186
- Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland –185
- Australia, Greece – 183
- Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand – 182
- Iceland –181
- Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia – 180
- Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia – 179
Weakest Passports – Afghanistan or Iraq Spells Trouble
The least powerful passports in the world belong to Afghanistan and Iraq, whose citizens can travel freely to just 30 out of 218 countries and territories.
How does your passport measure up?
Author: Darren McLean
Owner of taste2travel.com – an avid traveler, photographer, travel writer and adventurer.
I hope you enjoy reading my content.