Industries in Depth

The world’s most powerful passport? The answer might surprise you

A German national flag is seen atop the Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, November 2, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS) - RTR4CJW5

A German national flag is seen atop the Reichstag building. Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Anne Quito
Design Reporter, Quartz
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Industries in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Germany is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Germany

If you want to travel the world, it pays to be German. This comes courtesy of a new survey that ranks countries around the world on the amount of “travel freedom” accorded to their citizens. Travel freedom is defined as the number of countries where citizens can travel without needing a visa, or where they will receive a visa upon arrival.

Germans have the most powerful passports in the world, offering visa-free access to 177 countries and territories out of a total of 218, according to the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index compiled by the London-based citizenship and immigration firm Henley & Partners. Germans have held this distinction since 2014. Swedes were close behind, with visa-free access to 176 countries.

France, Finland, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom all tied for third place, with access to 175 countries. United States citizens can drop in visa-free on 174 countries, along with citizens of Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.

On the bottom of the list, with “the worst passports in the world,” are Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A country’s ability to obtain visa waivers reflects its diplomatic relations with other countries. Visa requirements are also shaped by “reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations,” according to Henley & Partners’ press release.

The report, published Feb. 24 and accompanied by an interactive graphic, notes a couple other big developments. Four countries made major strides in the rankings: Tonga, Palau, Colombia and the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste. And Portugal, which began a“golden visa” initiative in 2012 that allows investors from outside the European Union to buy their way into residency, now has the world’s sixth-most powerful passports. Its citizens can travel to 172 countries without visas.

Have you read?

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Nearly 15% of the seafood we produce each year is wasted. Here’s what needs to happen

Charlotte Edmond

April 11, 2024

1:44

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum