Which passports bring their holders the most freedom to travel the world?
Brits travelling abroad reached a high in 2017 when 72.8
million left the UK for visits to other countries. This was a three per cent
increase on the previous year. As a nation, we base our entire year around
escaping from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and boarding a plane.
Whether it be for a weekend city break, a honeymoon, or that all-encompassing
gap year – it is what we live for.
In the UK, we often take for granted our ease in taking the
opportunity to travel abroad, indulging in both foreign cuisine and constant
sunshine. For some nationalities however, money isn’t the only factor which
restricts them from hopping on a flight – their passport does.
Did you know, some passports afford their holders more
freedom and unrestricted international access than others? Donald J Trump
slapping sanctions on Iran is only the tip of the iceberg, as throughout the
world there are numerous countries, that due to international disputes do not
allow access without a full visa.
Making an assessment of how many countries a passport grants
its holders visa free or visa on arrival access, Henley and Partners’ passport
index is the official rank of the world’s most powerful passports. Here, with
card printers, Where the Trade Buys, we take a look at the world’s most
valuable passports, and the agreements that have made them that way.
For the second consecutive time, Japan has claimed top spot,
fighting off tough opposition from the likes of Singapore and South Korea.
Citizens of the land of the rising sun are able to cross the border into 190
different countries, one more than their two aforementioned Asian counterparts.
In 2017, Japanese citizens were granted visa-free travel to
Myanmar, the state formerly known as Burma. The government in the state has
requested however that tourists must have at least $1000 in the bank before
entering. Approximately 100,000 Japanese visitors came to Myanmar, in most
occasions the capital, Rangoon, in 2017.
The most notable nations that Japan has visa-free access to
that the UK doesn’t, are Iran, Mongolia and China. The latter of which,
visitors must apply for visa on arrival.
Both Americans and Brit’s, who held joint-first position in
2015, have fell to sixth place. The two countries share the position with
Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland, allowing visa-free
access to 185 nations, five behind that of Japan. Henley Chairman, Christian
Kalin, notes how, “an open-door policy has the potential to contribute billions
to the global economy, as well as creating significant employment opportunities.”
The UK’s European Union membership has provided citizens
with the ability to move freely throughout member states since the agreement’s
infancy, however with the current situation, circumstances could so easily
Previously boasting visa-free access to 186 countries, the
introduction of e-visas in Turkey, which are required prior to arrival, the UK
has slipped overall. It must be noted however, that since the passport index
began in 2006, the UK has dramatically increased in access numbers, from 126.
Interestingly, current plans exist to revert from red back
to the traditional blue passport that the UK used prior to joining the EU, and
if they were to do so, printing of these passports will be carried out in
France and Germany
The two European states sit join third, ranking just below
Singapore and South Korea. In terms of their comparison to the UK, both
countries can apply for a visa on arrival in Iran. On the alternative passport
index powered by Arton, Germany ranks slightly higher than France, offering the
visa on arrival service in both Pakistan and Mongolia. Various aspects will be
taken into a consideration when a country is deciding whether to allow other
nations visa-free access. For Germany, they have placed a particular level of
emphasis on building relationships with foreign countries.
Despite being ranked by Arton as having the world’s
strongest passport, the UAE comes in at 21st on Henley’s scale. The
oil rich state’s attitude towards foreign affairs has seen it significantly climb
in recent years, with Kalin suggesting how ‘this is not only a benefit to the
UAE’s citizens, but also the wider international community’.
Afghanistan and Iraq
Both Iraqi and Afghani nationals prop up the bottom of the
index, with their passports only allowing access to 30 countries respectively.
Meanwhile, if you were to follow the Arton index, Iraq ranks slightly higher
than Afghanistan with a score of 33, as opposed to Afghanistan’s 30. Iraqi’s
have visa-free access to Ecuador and Malaysia, that its counterpart does not.
It comes a no surprise that some of the world’s richest countries rank the highest in terms of their passport’s worth, while similarly the countries torn apart by war at the lower end of the charts. The UAE is also a fine example of a country who is committed to establishing the wealth of its passport.