Passport Ranking 101: A Beginners Guide to Global Mobility

Understanding Passport Rankings

Passport rankings are like cheat codes for young travelers itching to see the world. Knowing how these rankings work and what affects them can make your travel plans a breeze.

Passport Power Rankings

Passport power rankings tell you how many places you can visit without needing a visa first. The Henley Passport Index and the Passport Index are the go-to sources for this info. They pull data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and do a ton of research to get these rankings right.

The Passport Index uses a Mobility Score (MS) to rank passports. The higher the MS, the better the rank. In 2016, they started giving each passport its own rank based on visa rules for each country.

Passport Power RankMobility Score (MS)Visa-Free DestinationsVisa on Arrival Destinations
119113457
219013258
318913059

What Affects Rankings?

Several things can bump up or drag down a passport’s rank:

  • Visa-Free Access: How many countries you can enter without a visa.
  • Visa on Arrival: Places where you can get a visa when you land.
  • Bilateral Agreements: Deals between countries that let you skip the visa.
  • Passport Security: How secure and high-tech the passport is.
  • Country Welcoming Rank: How many countries let you in without much hassle.

For more details, check out our section on the most powerful passport.

Top Global Passport Rankings

Knowing which passports are the best can help you plan your travels. Here’s a look at the top ones and some interesting changes.

Most Powerful Passports

The Henley Passport Index says the most powerful passports in 2024 are from Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. These passports let you travel to 194 places without a visa.

RankCountryVisa-Free Destinations
1Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy, Spain194
2South Korea, Finland, Sweden193
3Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands192

For more info, check our guide on the most powerful passport.

Notable Passport Movements

Some countries have made big moves in the rankings. The UAE, for example, aimed to have one of the top five passports by 2021. They’re now the most powerful in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

On the flip side, the US passport has slipped to 43rd in the Nomad Passport Index. This ranking considers not just visa-free travel but also how the US treats its citizens abroad.

If you’re thinking about dual citizenship or improving your passport’s rank, check out our citizenship by investment programs.

Impact of COVID-19 on Passport Rankings

The pandemic has seriously messed with travel freedom and passport rankings.

World Openness Score

Before COVID-19, the World Openness Score, which measures how easy it is to travel between countries, was going up by 4% each year. But by May 2020, it dropped by 65% because of travel bans and border closures.

YearWorld Openness Score
2019Increasing by 4% annually
May 2020Decreased by 65%

Pandemic Effects on Mobility

The pandemic hit travel hard. In 2006, you could visit an average of 57 countries without a visa. By 2022, that number was 107. But COVID-19 caused a big setback, especially for countries with lower incomes and political instability.

YearAverage Visa-Free Countries
200657
2022107

Fragile states like Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria have low travel freedom due to being seen as risky. Meanwhile, some countries like Venezuela have higher visa-free access despite internal issues.

Democratic countries generally have higher visa-free scores, but there are exceptions. For example, the UAE has a high score despite being autocratic.

Country TypeAverage Visa-Free Score
DemocraticHigher
Non-DemocraticLower (with exceptions)

The pandemic highlighted the gap in travel freedom between wealthy, stable countries and those that are not.

For more on passport-related topics, check out our articles on passport renewaldual citizenship, and citizenship by investment.

As travel continues to change, several trends will shape future passport rankings.

Predictions and Forecasts

  • Citizenship by Investment Programs: Countries like Ireland, Malta, and Portugal are seeing more interest in these programs, which can boost passport rankings.
  • Tax Policies: The US taxes its citizens no matter where they live, which could affect its passport ranking. Countries like Canada and Denmark don’t do this, which might make their passports more attractive.
  • Tech Innovations: Digital identity verification and blockchain could make travel easier and improve passport rankings.
CountryMobility ScoreRanking
Ireland1906
Malta1869
Portugal18510

Emerging Passport Initiatives

Countries are working on improving their passport rankings through various initiatives:

  • UAE’s Passport Power Initiative: Aiming for a top 5 global ranking.
  • Country Welcoming Rank: Some countries are making it easier to get in, which could boost their rankings.
  • Personal Mobility Score Enhancement: You can improve your travel freedom by getting additional passports through dual citizenship.
InitiativeCountryGoal
Passport Power InitiativeUAETop 5 Global Ranking
Country Welcoming RankGlobalEnhance Visa Policies
Personal Mobility ScoreIndividualImprove Travel Freedom

By staying updated on these trends, young travelers can make smart decisions about their travel plans and citizenship options. For more info, visit our articles on passport renewal and most powerful passport.

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