Of the many travel accessories you could possibly have, your passport is one that’s not only important but also extremely essential. When traveling internationally or even domestically if you’re flying to certain states, a passport is your main form of identification and is also sometimes needed when checking into a hotel or exchanging currencies. You want to make sure that you have enough blank pages in your passport for visas and entry and exit stamps ahead of your trip, as well as ensure that it hasn’t expired (which it might much sooner than you think). Not all passports, however, are created equal.
As foreign policy varies from country to country, so do passport privileges. Not every passport gets you access to every country, and visa requirements and restrictions can also vary depending on your nationality. As a result, some passports have more “power” than others, and The Passport Index keeps an updated ranking of the world’s most powerful passports. While you’d think the United States would be at the top of the list, it actually ranks fifth — tied with seven other nations. The country with the most powerful passport is actually a city-state you might not expect: Singapore.
Singapore, itself one of the world’s most exciting travel destinations, leads the list with a Visa-Free Score, or VFS, of 164, which means Singaporean passport holders either don’t need a visa or will receive a visa upon arrival in 164 countries. The island country pushed South Korea, which has a VFS of 163, out of the top spot once it was granted visa-free access by Angola starting on March 30, 2018. After South Korea, Germany and Japan are tied for the third most powerful passports, with their citizens being granted visa-free access or visa on arrival by 163 nations.
The Passport Index takes a look at the passports of 193 United Nations members, as well as six territories, for a total of 199 passports. In addition to the Visa-Free Score of a country, the ranking takes into consideration how much of that score is made up of visa-free access versus visa on arrival. If a tie-breaker is needed, they also utilize the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index, a measure in which countries are scored based on life expectancy, education, and income per capita.
This index really does prove that the color of your passport does have a significant effect on your privileges as a traveler. It’s very important to be aware of which countries don’t require you to get a visa beforehand and which do so that you can have the right documentation before you travel — just remember to keep copies among all the travel necessities you need to pack.