The Strongest Passports of 2019

Japanese PassportSource: Flickr

When you want to travel there are several things to take into consideration. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? How to I get there? What would I need to pack for my trip? Will I need to apply for a visa before going? Going through the process of obtaining a visa to enter a country can be a headache. It’s so much better to be able to step of the plane and breeze through arrivals. We take a look at the passports which allow visa-free access to the most locations this year.

Passport Rankings

The two most-cited passport indexes for tourism travel are Arton Capital’s Passport Index and Henley Passport Index. Overall they are similar in the results, dominated by European countries and historically industrial countries around the globe. However, they calculate their index a bit differently which results in a couple of discrepancies. One of the most notable differences is the ranking of the United Arab Emirates – the country is in the top spot on the Passport Index but ranked 22nd on the Henley Passport Index.

Henley’s version is clearer when it comes to visa-free travel, only including countries for which no visa or simply a visa upon arrival is required. Arton Capital’s also includes countries who require a pre-departure government approval (for example an electronic travel authority, ETA, applied for before the trip), which is not quite “visa-free” as it requires steps to be taken ahead of arrival. Henley also looks at 199 passports and 227 travel destinations, while Arton Capital only looks at 193 passports. We will use the Henley Passport Index in this article.

The top 10 passports for 2019 are:

  1. Japan (access to 190 countries)
  2. Singapore & South Korea (189)
  3. France & Germany (188)
  4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, & Sweden (187)
  5. Luxembourg & Spain (186)
  6. Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, UK, & US (185)
  7. Belgium, Canada, Greece, & Ireland (184)
  8. Czech Republic (183)
  9. Malta (182)
  10. Australia, Iceland, & New Zealand (181)

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1. Japan

Japan is number 1 for the second year in a row. The country was in the 5th position in 2017 with access to only 172 countries, but a mixture of more agreements for Japan and increased visa requirements for other generally highly-ranked countries saw a Japan jump.

2. Singapore & South Korea

Singapore remains in the number 2 spot this year while South Korea gained one position. South Korea made a new agreement with India at the beginning of this year to allow South Koreans entrance to India with a visa on-arrival.

3. France & Germany

France and Germany kept their same positioning as 2018, but if we go back to 2017, Germany was ranked #1 with 176 countries while France was #4 with 173.

4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, & Sweden

Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden have been in the top 5 for several years and don’t show any signs of slipping.

5. Luxembourg & Spain

Spain lost a position from 2018’s ranking but remains one of the strongest passports.

The Worst Passports

The 10 countries with the least mobility this year are Nepal (access to 40 countries), Palestinian Territory (39), Sudan (39), Eritrea (38), Yemen (37), Pakistan (33), Somalia (32), Syria (32), Afghanistan (30), and Iraq (30). Unsurprisingly all of these are affected by war, conflict, and/or civil unrest.

Any Major Movers?

In 2017 China was in 85th place. This year it is up to 69th. That’s a jump of nearly 20 places that shows how the country is working out new agreements and opening up to the world.

The biggest climber over the past decade is the United Arab Emirates – they jumped from 61st place in 2009 up to 22nd this year.

Back in 2015, the United Kingdom and the United States passports were numbers one and two respectively, but now they have both dropped down to number 6. The UK passport is expected to drop more once the Brexit process is complete.

The future will show how much higher Asian and Middle Eastern countries will go as they continuously work to enable hassle-free travel for both their own citizens and visitors from other countries.

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