The World’s Most Powerful Passports for 2020 Are …

By Jesse Sokolow on 7 January 2020
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How many countries can you visit without needing a visa with your passport? If yours is a red- or blue-colored passport book that has the words “Japan Passport” on the cover, you can visit more – a total of 191 out of 218 – than holders of any other passport in the world.

Indeed, a traveler with a Japanese passport can visit 165 more destinations than someone with what is today the world’s weakest passport, that of Afghanistan, whose holders have a choice of 26 destinations that offer visa-free/visa-on-arrival to visitors.   Japan has held the top spot since 2018.

For years, global payment technology company Visa, which assumed its current name in the 1970s, replacing the BankAmericard brand, to connote universal acceptance, has tried to convince people that its credit cards are accepted in “more places than American Express.” In a somewhat parallel vein, this underscores the importance of visa-free travel as the world increasingly becomes a global village.

The Henley and Partners Visa Restriction Index, sometimes referred to as a list of the world’s most “powerful” passports, is published each year in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association.

For 2020, South Korea and Singapore were tied in second place with 190 countries, followed by Germany, a previous first-place holder, with 189.

Finland and Italy were tied in fourth place, having scored 188 countries, while Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain share fifth place, with 187 countries.

Continuing the top ten, France and Finland took sixth place with 186 countries, while five countries – Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland – shared seventh place with 185.  The United States and the United Kingdom, which together held the number one spot in 2015, share eighth place along with Belgium, Greece, and Norway, with a total of 184 countries.  In ninth place are Australia, Canada, Czechia, Malta, and New Zealand with 183 countries, and Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovakia hold tenth place with 181.

Meanwhile, citizens of some countries are simply unwelcome in a good part of the world.   The bottom five countries are, in addition to Afghanistan at the very bottom of the list, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq, with their citizens having the ability to visit 32, 32, 29, and 28 countries respectively.

The list includes 227 destination countries and the maximum any country could score would be 226, as a visa is not required to return home. The number of passport countries that were scored was 199 and include the 93 Member States of the United Nations plus Hong Kong, Kosovo, Macao, Palestinian Territory, Taiwan, and Vatican City.

Henley & Partners, which helps individuals with citizenship and residence planning, has published the index for the past 15 years.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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