These are the most powerful passports in the world this year
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
What’s in a passport?
Shakespeare famously said that a rose, by any other name, would still smell just as sweet. But the same cannot be said for passports: When it comes to travel, not all passports are created equal — not by a long shot.
When it comes to international travel, a strong passport allows you to enter and depart various foreign countries without going through the hassle of applying for visas, entry permits and other such red tape.
And depending on what you know about international relations, it might surprise you to realize that a U.S. passport isn’t even amongst the top 10 countries with foreign access.
The Henley & Partners Passport Index ranks the world’s 199 passports on their “value of citizenship,” based on a weighted approach. Amongst other criteria, one factor evaluates the number of countries a passport holder can access without having to apply for a visa.
You can read all about the methodology here, or we can cut straight to the chase: Japan takes the gold — again — for 2020. Passport holders from the Land of the Rising Sun can access a whopping 191 visa-free countries, while Singapore takes second place with visa-free access to 190 countries. Germany and South Korea tie for third place, as passport holders from both nations can easily travel to 189 countries.
The U.S. ranks in eighth place, tied with Belgium, Greece, Norway and the United Kingdom for 184 passport-accessible countries.
It’s surprising that none of the three East Asian nations — Japan, Singapore and South Korea — even made the top 10 list before 2017. In 2018, Japan shot to the top of the leaderboard, boasting 190 countries compared to its former 172 in 2017; Singapore had 189 visa-free countries to its previous 173 in 2017; and South Korea passports saw the most progress, with 188 accessible countries in 2018 against its 170 in 2017. (You can play around with the rankings yourself on the Henley & Partners site.)
The lowest-ranking passports in the world come from Yemen, with just 33 countries accessible without a visa; Pakistan and Somalia at 32; Syria at 29; Iraq at 28 and Afghanistan bringing up the rear with 26 visa-free countries.
Featured photo by Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.