According to the Passport Index Global Passport Power Rank 2017, the top 10 most powerful passports in 2017 are as follows:
- Germany – visa-free score: 159
- Singapore – visa-free score: 159
- Sweden – visa-free score: 158
- Denmark – visa-free score: 157
- Finland – visa-free score: 157
- Italy – visa-free score: 157
- France – visa-free score: 157
- Spain – visa-free score: 157
- Norway – visa-free score: 157
- United Kingdom – visa-free score: 157
Why Are the Top 10 the Top 10?
These passports in particular made it to the top 10 because they allow the highest number of visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel around the world. You can see the breakdown for each passport using the Passport Index Compare tool. By most powerful we mean most global mobility. So the German passport can get you to the most countries without the hassle of applying for a visa beforehand, which can be costly and time-consuming.
But why does Germany come before Singapore when both passports have a visa-free score of 159? And similarly for all the countries with a score of 157?
The answer is that the portion of Germany’s 159 that comes from its visa-free score versus its visa-on-arrival score is higher than Singapore’s. Let’s take a closer look.
If we look at the individual ranking in Passport Index, we can see that Germany has a visa-free score of 125 and a visa-on-arrival score of 34, for a total score of 159. Meanwhile, Singapore has a visa-free score of 122 and a visa-on-arrival score of 37, also for a total score of 159. Since Germany allows visa-free travel to three more countries than Singapore, it has a higher standing in the ranking.
But what about Denmark and Finland? They both have a visa-free score of 124 and a visa-on-arrival score of 33, for a total score of 157. In this case, Passport Index has ranked the countries based on the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index, using it as a tiebreaker. The index is a measure of average achievement in human development, such as living a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.
Where Can I Go With the Top 10 Passports?
The top 10 passports grant access to about 80% of the world. (There are 196 countries in total in the world.) This is amazing considering that there are passports that grant visa-free access to just 11% of the world.
Check out the Passport Index Improve tool to see how a second passport can improve your global mobility.
Why Is the German Passport the Most Powerful?
The German passport is the most powerful because it has the highest visa-free score of 159. German passport holders can gain entry to 125 countries visa-free and 34 countries with visa-on-arrival. The country also has a UNDP Human Development Index score of 0.916, ranking in the very high human development category of the index. The closer a country’s HDI value is to 1, the more developed it is.
What Do the Top 10 Tell Us About the World?
The top 10 passports are not too surprising. For example, it’s no surprise to see highly developed Scandinavian countries in the top 10. The ranking tells us that in addition to having high standards of living, such as good domestic policies, these countries also have good foreign policies, as evidenced by the number of visa waiver agreements they have in place with the rest of the world.
How Might the Top 10 Change in the Future?
The main way the Passport Index ranking can change is if a country experiences a change in visa waiver policies for or against it. For example, if a country signs a visa waiver agreement with a country with which it previously did not have one, then its score would increase. Similarly, if a country decides to revoke the visa waiver agreement it has in place with one of the top 10, then that would negatively affect the visa-free score of the top 10 country, since it no longer offers visa-free travel to the revoking country.
Make sure to check Passport Index on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with the rankings.