The reputation of passports worldwide
The question of powerful passports is a frequent topic of discussion. Generally, this just means which national passport is accepted in the largest number of countries without a visa.
For some years now, multiple agreements have been in place around the world to determine where entry is allowed without a visa, for instance the Schengen area (consisting of 26 European nations).
But what actually determines how powerful a passport is?
In order to answer this question, it’s worth looking at the “Henley Passport Index”, renamed in 2017, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This index analyzes the degree to which the citizens of a given country are able to move around the rest of the world freely or unrestricted by visa requirements and entry restrictions thanks to their passport.
If the passport holder does not require a visa for a country or territory, a score = 1 is generated for this passport and travel destination. A score with a value = 1 is also applied if the passport holder is able to obtain a visa on arrival, visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (ETC) upon entry at the destination. Due to the specific visa waiver programs, these visa types do not require approval from the government before entry.-Henley Passport index
Based on this score, passports can be generally categorized. Here you can find a list of the five most and least powerful passports in the world (score):
1st Japan (191)
2nd Singapore (190)
3rd South Korea, Germany (189)
4th Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188)
5th Denmark, Austria (187)
102. Yemen, Somalia (33)
103. Pakistan (32)
104. Syria (29)
105. Iraq (28)
106. Afghanistan (26)
If the country in question is poorer, less democratic and more heavily affected by armed political conflicts, its passport holders are more likely to have visa restrictions. The same applies for countries whose citizens have been principal offenders in terrorist attacks in the past
Professor Eric Neumayer from the London School of Economics.
Accordingly, there are no visa restrictions that apply as a rule, but there are certainly criteria that can influence the decision. For example, this is the case for:
- Citizens of poorer countries
- Citizens of politically unstable and undemocratic countries
- Citizens of another country that are classified as criminal or even as terrorists
- Citizens of autocratic regimes that perceive foreign influence as a threat to their rule
Did you know?
The only person in the world who is not required to carry a passport when she travels abroad is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The British passport is issued by Her Majesty the Queen. This means the queen is not required to carry a passport, since she would otherwise have to issue a passport to herself!