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The best passport – how many countries can you visit?

March 22, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Which is the world’s most powerful passport, in terms of the number of countries a bearer can visit visa-free? A new list has been drawn up and the results are a surprise.

There have been significant changes. Just two years ago, the world’s best passport to hold, on the basis of visa-free access to the most countries, was that of Germany. Its holders could visit 177 countries without restriction.

That has changed. The world’s strongest passports have shifted to Asia.

South Korea now wields the world’s most powerful passport, joining Singapore at the top of the rankings, pushing Germany into third position.

The Australian passport ranks sixth or seventh in the league, depending which list you consult. New Zealand is one notch below it.

Global financial advisory firm Arton Capital draws up passport rankings and publishes them on the site Passportindex.org. It claims to compile the only real-time global ranking of the world’s passports, updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are implemented.

The world of passports. From Passportindex.org

The ascendancy of South Korea and Singapore in the Arton Capital index was achieved by Uzbekistan granting both visa-free access.

“We are currently seeing not one but two Asian countries with the most powerful passports in the world,” Armand Arton, the company’s founder and president, said in a statement. “This is a testament to the increased global respect and trust Asian countries are commanding.”

Another list is drawn up by Henley and Partners, whose group chairman, Christian H. Kälin, says the need for visa-free access is greater than ever.

“Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale.”

The lists are similar but not identical. The Henley index (the latest was drawn up on 13 February 2018) puts Japan and Singapore at the top, saying bearers of those passports can enter 180 countries visa-free. Next comes Germany (179 countries visa-free). Next, in joint third position (178 countries visa-free) come France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and South Korea.

The Arton Capital list (which claims to be constantly updated) puts Singapore and South Korea first, then Germany and Japan joint second, then Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, France and Spain joint third.

The Henley index puts Australia in joint sixth position, alongside Greece and Belgium. The Arton Capital index puts Australia in joint seventh position, alongside Malta and the Czech Republic.

Both lists place the Australian passport one notch ahead of the New Zealand passport, but behind those of the US or Britain.

The indexes include passports from over 100 countries and both agree that the worst, in terms of visa-free entry, is the passport of Afghanistan. You can also expect plenty of visa hassles if travelling on a passport issued by Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria or Iraq.

The Henley Passport Index can be downloaded as a PDF here. The Passport Index by Arton Capital, a very cute site with lots of passport-cover pictures, can be accessed here.

Written by Peter Needham

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