best passport to have

World’s most powerful passport 2018

Travelling can be a bureaucratic nightmare for those on restricted passports. Here we look at the best passport to have in 2018 based on the freedom it provides.

Ten years ago, in my first job after graduation, I shared an office with a researcher called Munir who I nicknamed Dr2 because he not only had a PhD but was also qualified as a medical doctor. (I recognise it’s not the wittiest name in the world but it was the best I could do at the time.)

Munir played loud Arabic music while he worked, loved learning British colloquialisms (“armchair critic”, “fairweather friend”), and held a Jordanian passport. One day, he came into work clearly frustrated and announced that he was giving up on travel.

best passport to have 2018Atlas & Boots

Passports are ranked by their visa-free score

Stationed in the UK for three years, he thought he would have a great opportunity to see Europe while he was here. Alas, his passport was so restrictive that securing visas became distinctly Sisyphean.

He as a doctor (twice over) had fewer rights than I did as a new grad with relatively few skills just because our passports were different. It was the first time I realised how lucky I was to have a British passport.

  • Find remote jobs at companies genuinely committed to remote working

I have been routinely reminded of this fact in the ensuing decade, most recently by Arton Capital, a financial firm that annually compiles an index of the best passports to have. In this case, ‘best’ is defined by the number of countries the passport holder can visit either without a visa or by obtaining one on arrival.

South Korea Steals top spot

Last year, the best passport to have was a tie between Germany and Singapore (159 countries each). In 2018, the South Korean and Singaporean passports have pushed the German passport into third place.

South Korea and Singapore passport holders can now easily access 163 countries. South Korea joins Singapore at the top of the index ranking for the first time. European countries have historically dominated the index, with Germany regularly in first place.

Last year saw the rise of Asian countries with Singapore the first Asian country ever to top the world’s most powerful passports. South Korea is now the second with Japan also quietly moving up to second place, tied with Germany on 162.

The UK has the joint-fourth highest score with easy access to 160 countries and the US and Ireland have the joint-fifth with 159 countries.

Alas, for poor Munir, travel still remains difficult on a Jordanian passport with easy access to just 50 countries. Even worse is Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the table with visa-free access to just 26 countries. The rest of the bottom five is made of Iraq (29), Pakistan (30), Syria (33) and Somalia (34).

Best passport to have: the rankings

Editor’s note: If you’re planning to put your passport to use this year, grab a copy of our travel guide to help you see more of the world.

RANK COUNTRYVISA-FREE SCORE POWER RANK
1Singapore1631
South Korea163
3Germany1622
Japan162
5Denmark1613
Sweden161
Finland161
Italy161
France161
Spain161
11Luxembourg1604
Norway160
Netherlands160
Belgium160
Austria160
Portugal160
United Kingdom160
18Switzerland1595
Malaysia159
Ireland159
United States of America159
Canada159
23Greece1586
24Malta1577
Czechia157
Australia157
27New Zealand1568
28Hungary1559
Iceland155
30Slovenia15410
Poland154
Lithuania154
Slovakia154
Latvia154
35Estonia15311
36Liechtenstein15212
37Cyprus15113
38Romania15014
Bulgaria150
40Croatia14915
Chile149
Brazil149
Argentina149
44Monaco14816
45Hong Kong14617
46San Marino14418
47andorra14319
48United Arab Emirates14220
Israel142
50Barbados14021
Brunei140
52Mexico13722
53Bahamas13623
54Vatican City13424
55Uruguay13225
56Seychelles13126
57St. Vincent and The Grenadines13027
58Saint Kitts and Nevis12928
59Antigua and Barbuda12829
Peru128
61Trinidad and Tobago12730
Costa Rica127
63Mauritius12531
Saint Lucia125
Ukraine125
66Grenada12432
Macao124
Paraguay124
Venezuela124
Taiwan124
71Panama12133
72Vanuatu12034
73Dominica11935
74Solomon Islands11836
Samoa118
Serbia118
El Salvador118
Honduras118
79Tuvalu11737
Guatemala117
81Tonga11338
Macedonia113
83Kiribati11239
Russian Federation112
85Colombia11140
Turkey111
87Nicaragua11041
88Montenegro10942
Marshall Islands109
90Moldova10843
91Georgia10744
92Micronesia10645
93Bosnia and Herzegovina10546
94Palau10447
95Albania10148
96South Africa9549
97Kuwait9050
98Timor-Leste8951
99Belize8852
100Fiji8453
Ecuador84
102Jamaica8254
Guyana82
104Qatar8155
105Bahrain7956
106Maldives7857
107Thailand7658
108Nauru7559
Oman75
110Belarus7460
Kazakhstan74
112Botswana7361
Suriname73
Papua New Guinea73
Saudi Arabia73
Bolivia73
117Lesotho7162
Indonesia71
119Swaziland7063
120Malawi6964
121Namibia6865
Kenya68
123Gambia6666
Tanzania66
Azerbaijan66
Dominican Republic66
China66
128Tunisia6567
Cuba65
130Cape Verde6468
131Zambia6369
Zimbabwe63
Philippines63
134Uganda6270
Armenia62
136Kyrgyzstan6171
137Ghana6072
Sierra Leone60
Mongolia60
140Benin5973
Morocco59
142India5874
Sao Tome and Principe58
144Uzbekistan5775
Tajikistan57
Haiti57
147Senegal5676
Guinea56
Cote D'ivoire (Ivory Coast)56
150Mozambique5577
Burkina Faso55
Mauritania55
Gabon55
Bhutan55
155Rwanda5478
156Mali5379
Niger53
Togo53
Madagascar53
Cambodia53
161Comoros5280
Turkmenistan52
163Guinea-Bissau5181
Chad51
Viet Nam51
Laos51
Egypt51
168Angola5082
Jordan50
170Algeria4983
Equatorial Guinea49
172Central African Republic4884
173Liberia4785
Cameroon47
Burundi47
Congo47
177Djibouti4686
178Nigeria4587
179Congo (Dem. Rep.)4488
Myanmar [Burma]44
Kosovo44
182Palestinian Territories4289
North Korea42
184South Sudan4190
Ethiopia41
186Lebanon4091
Nepal40
Yemen40
189Bangladesh3992
Sri Lanka39
Libya39
Eritrea39
193Iran3893
Sudan38
195Somalia3494
196Syria3395
197Pakistan3096
198Iraq2997
199Afghanistan2698

Rankings are from Arton Capital, a financial firm that enables individuals, families and companies to invest abroad.

Lead image: Dreamstime

You might also like: