Passports are all different and it’s no secret that some of them open more doors (or countries) than others. Henley & Partners, a consulting firm specializing in residence and citizenship planning, has recently released its Visa Restrictions Index for 2016, “a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy” in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association.
The result is a website that allows you to compare all the different passports in the world according to the number of countries that their citizens can visit without applying for a visa. The website also allows you to see its evolution during the past ten years.
Best vs. Worst Passports
Citizens of Germany are the luckiest travellers in the world, with a passport that opens the door to 177 countries. Sweden comes in a close second, with visa-free entry to 176 countries. Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom share third place with an open door to 175 countries. These countries are also part of the European Union, the Schengen Area, or both, which grants border-less, passport-less mobility within the zone.
Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States have visa-free access to 174 countries. Austria, Japan, and Singapore with 173 close out the top 5.
Latin America’s winner is Chile, ranked #19 and whose citizens can travel freely to 155 countries. The top 5 within the region are Brazil (153), Argentina (152), Mexico (139) and Uruguay (137).
On the other hand, some of the world’s worst passports to have for travel include Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, whose citizens are granted visa-free access to only 30, 29, and 25 countries respectively. Somalia (31) and Syria (32) round out the bottom 5.
What does this mean?
As the report mentions, “almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory.” And although it absolutely eases the process of traveling abroad, visa free access does not guarantee entry. A visa or visa exemption only allows you to travel as far as the port of entry. Once there, an immigration officer can decide whether you are eligible or not to enter the country for a specific purpose.
A strong passport is also “an expression of the relationships between individual nations” as the report notes, and they “generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community of nations.”
How does your passport rank? Happy travels!