best passport to have

World’s most powerful passport 2019

Travelling can be a bureaucratic nightmare for those on restricted passports. Here we look at the best passport to have in 2019 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.)

best passport to have 2019 map
Fair Use Passports are ranked by their visa-free score

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 visibly frustrated and announced that he was giving up on travel.

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. Whether applying for a transit ESTA or Russian visa, my experience is rarely frustrating.

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.

UAE steals the top spot

The UAE is the best passport to have in 2019. Last year, the spot was held by South Korea. This year sees the South Korean passport pushed into third spot behind the UAE and Germany in second.

UAE passport holders can easily access 167 countries: 113 of them visa-free and 54 with a visa on arrival. Only 31 countries require UAE passport holders to have a visa to enter the country. This gives Emirati citizens easy access to over 84% of the world.

European countries have historically dominated the index, with Germany frequently in first place. However, 2017 saw the rise of Asian countries with Singapore becoming the first Asian country ever to top the world’s most powerful passports, followed by South Korea in 2018.

The US has the joint-third best passport with easy access to 165 countries. The UK and Ireland have the joint-fourth highest scores with easy access to 164 countries each.

Alas, for poor Munir, travel still remains difficult on a Jordanian passport with easy access to just 56 countries. Even worse is Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the table with visa-free access to just 29 countries. The rest of the bottom five is made of Iraq (32), Pakistan (35), Syria (36) and Somalia (38).

Best passport to have: the rankings

(VFS = Visa-Free Score, VF= Visa-Free, VOA= Visa On Arrival, VR= Visa Required)

RANKCOUNTRYVFSVFVOAVR
1United Arab Emirates1671135431
2Germany1661273932
3Denmark1651273833
Sweden1651273833
Finland1651273833
Singapore1651273833
Luxembourg1651263933
France1651263933
Italy1651263933
Netherlands1651254033
Spain1651244133
Norway1651234233
South Korea1651224333
United States of America1651164933
15Belgium1641244034
Austria1641244034
Greece1641234134
Portugal1641234134
Switzerland1641224234
Japan1641224234
United Kingdom1641204434
Ireland1641194534
Canada1641145034
24Czech Republic1631234035
Hungary1631224135
26Malta1621233936
Iceland1621194336
28Slovenia1611214037
Poland1611204137
Lithuania1611204137
Slovakia1611204137
Latvia1611204137
New Zealand1611124937
Australia1611095237
35Malaysia1601213938
Estonia1601204038
37Romania1581174140
Bulgaria1581154340
39Cyprus1571213641
Liechtenstein1571164141
41Croatia1561164042
Monaco1561104642
43Brazil1551104543
Chile1551094643
Argentina1551074843
46Hong Kong1501153548
47Andorra1481014750
48San Marino1471064151
49Israel1461044252
50Brunei1441044054
51Barbados1431083555
52Mexico142994356
Vatican City142994356
54Uruguay141994257
55Bahamas1391043559
56Peru136894762
57Seychelles1351033263
St. Vincent and The Grenadines1351013463
Costa Rica135924363
60Trinidad and Tobago1341003464
61Saint Kitts and Nevis1331003365
62Antigua and Barbuda1321003266
63Mauritius131993267
Ukraine131894267
65Paraguay129884169
Panama129874269
Taiwan129854469
Venezuela129844569
69Saint Lucia128943470
Macao128913770
71Grenada127963171
72Serbia126844272
73Dominica124903474
Honduras124834174
Guatemala124814374
76Vanuatu123863775
Solomon Islands123863775
Colombia123814275
79Samoa122853776
El Salvador122814176
81Tuvalu121833877
82Kiribati118803880
Macedonia118774180
84Tonga117833481
Montenegro117764181
86Russian Federation116793782
Marshall Islands116744282
88Nicaragua115754083
Georgia115744183
Turkey115714483
91Bosnia and Herzegovina113734085
92Moldova112753786
Palau112684486
94Albania111704187
95Micronesia110674388
96South Africa986335100
97Kuwait955243103
98Timor-leste945638104
99Belize916031107
Ecuador914744107
101Qatar905238108
102Fiji895039109
103Jamaica885434110
104Guyana854738113
105Bahrain834439115
Maldives834439115
107Nauru804337118
Oman803941118
Kazakhstan803743118
Thailand803743118
111Belarus794237119
Bolivia793742119
113Saudi Arabia783840120
Suriname783840120
Papua New Guinea783840120
116Botswana774928121
117Lesotho764630122
118Eswatini754530123
119Indonesia743539124
China742846124
121Malawi734330125
122Kenya724032126
123Namibia714130127
Azerbaijan713437127
125Gambia704525128
Tanzania704228128
Tunisia703436128
Cuba703040128
Dominican Republic702743128
130Zambia694128129
Philippines693435129
Cape Verde693435129
133Uganda683533130
Armenia683137130
Morocco683038130
Kyrgyzstan682840130
137Zimbabwe673928131
Mongolia673037131
139Ghana663927132
140Sierra Leone644024134
India642539134
Sao Tome and Principe642341134
143Benin633033135
Uzbekistan632637135
145Cote D'ivoire (Ivory Coast)622834136
Tajikistan622636136
147Senegal613130137
Burkina Faso612833137
Haiti612140137
Bhutan611744137
151Mauritania602634138
152Guinea592732139
Madagascar592435139
Algeria591841139
155Mali583127140
Niger582929140
Mozambique582731140
Togo582533140
Gabon582434140
Rwanda582335140
Cambodia582038140
162Comoros571839141
Turkmenistan571740141
164Guinea-bissau562531142
Jordan562135142
Viet Nam562135142
Laos562135142
Egypt561739142
169Equatorial Guinea551837143
170Angola542430144
171Liberia532528145
Chad532132145
173Burundi522032146
Central African Republic521834146
175Myanmar [burma]511536147
Djibouti511437147
177Cameroon501931148
178Congo481533150
Kosovo481434150
180Nigeria472324151
South Sudan471433151
182Congo (Dem. Rep.)461432152
Nepal461333152
North Korea461135152
185Sri Lanka451629153
Lebanon451629153
Libya451332153
188Palestinian Territories441430154
Eritrea441133154
Ethiopia441034154
191Bangladesh431825155
192Iran421230156
Sudan42933156
194Yemen391128159
195Somalia38929160
196Syria36927162
197Pakistan35827163
198Iraq32725166
199Afghanistan29524169

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


Lead image: Dreamstime

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