A strong passport means you can travel around the world without needing to apply for a visa ahead of time. Holding one of the best passports in the world isn’t just about hassle free travel, it can also open up an abundance of career, business, and educational opportunities. Governments are constantly renegotiating visa requirements to give their citizens an edge in global business, banking, and, of course, travel.
With a strong passport, when you land in a country, you’ll be able to enter completely visa free for a period of time, or will be granted a visa upon landing at the airport. A strong passport will allow you to enter more than 100 countries without a visa, based on agreements made between your country and foreign governments. Holding dual citizenship can also help you gain the most freedom while traveling.
In the past, European countries topped the list of the world’s best passports because of the free travel permitted within the Schengen area. But this year, visa free travel in Asia has grown, with Asian leaders negotiated 40 new visa waiver agreements thanks to strong trade and international diplomacy. Many people assume the US tops the list of best passports in the world, but that’s not really the case. The US barely breaks the list of top ten best passports.
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Recently, Henley and Partners, an elite citizenship planning firm, released their definitive list of the best passports in the world for international travelers.
So which countries have the best passports in the world? The list is pretty much dominated by European and Asian countries. Read on to see how your passport ranks.
The Best Passports in the World, Ranked
- Japan, 189 Countries
In previous years, Singapore has tied with Japan at 180 countries. This year, the hub of global banking and capitalism has been supplanted from the number one spot by Japan. Japan added eight territories and microstates the list of areas where Japanese citizens can travel visa free: Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Monaco, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Palestine, Vatican City, and San Marino. This past March, the West African country of Benin also changed its policy to allow Japanese passport holders to travel there visa free, helping to make Japan the strongest passport to hold in the world. Japanese citizens can now travel to 189 out of 218 possible countries without a visa.
2) Singapore (tied) 188 Countries
2) Germany (tied) 188 Countries
3) Finland (tied) 187 Countries
3) France (tied) 187 Countries
3) Italy (tied) 187 Countries
3) South Korea (tied) 187 Countries
3) Spain (tied) 187 Countries
4) United Kingdom (tied) 186 Countries
4) United States of America (tied) 186 Countries
Why Do Passports Matter?
As the market becomes increasingly globalized, global mobility matters more and more. The ability to travel freely opens up new business opportunities and makes maintaining relationships with international clients much easier.
It’s often taken for granted that the US banking system is safe, but the 2008 financial crisis has shown that that assumption is definitely not correct. Global Finance Magazine releases the definitive list of the 50 safest banks in the world each year. In 2017, only one retail US bank made it on the list and then only barely. To keep their money safe while receiving the highest interest rates, plenty of people choose legal offshore banking. Although many swear by this option, it can require frequent travel to safe banking hubs like Singapore, Germany, and Switzerland. International banking just isn’t possible without a strong passport.
Not yet a business mogul? Holding one of the best passports not only makes your summer Eurotrip a breeze, it also grants you way more educational opportunities. Did you know you can get a US accredited graduate degree in Europe for a fraction of the cost and in half the time?
Because of the ease of travel granted in Schengen zone, EU students regularly study in different countries while in undergrad and pursue graduate degrees abroad. In the US, not enough students have considered this option. But with the ever more globalized market, foreign work and study experience becomes more and more valuable to employers. Not to mention the power of language skills when applying for jobs. Considering that Americans hold one of the best passports in the world, pursuing educational opportunities around the world is much easier than ever before and can seriously boost your resume.
Once you graduate, you might realize that there are dozens of exciting career options across the world. You might be a perfect fit for a position, but companies tend to resent having to sponsor candidates for visas. If you have a weak passport, companies may pass you up for a job knowing that the visa process will be time consuming and expensive. Holding one of the best passports can open up career opportunities you hadn’t considered and make obtaining a long term visa or permanent residency in a foreign country a much easier process.
The Weakest Passports
Holding a weak passport rating is generally seen as an indication of poor economic performance and global diplomacy. Governments are only going to open up their borders to visa free travel if it benefits their country financially.
The weakest passports in the world generally come out of the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Trying to obtain a visa for travel or work purposes with a passport from one of these countries is a nightmare. The weakest passports in the world include: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, and Sudan,
The Most Welcoming Countries
Just because a country offers the strongest passport, does not mean that it is the most welcoming to foreign visitors. How welcoming a country is is measured based on how many countries if offers visa free entry to.
Countries that rank as the most welcoming often do so because they badly need the infusion of foreign cash. Nations like the Maldives and the Seychelles that rely heavily on tourism also rank high on the welcoming scale. The most welcoming countries include: Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Samoa, Haiti, and Macao.