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!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees