These Are the World's Most Powerful Passports

While the US bounced back in the latest ranking, it's not number one.

FatCamera/Getty Images
FatCamera/Getty Images

Travel restrictions are easing across the globe, which means one thing: It’s time to dust off your long-neglected passport and collect a few new stamps. But, as the global passport rankings reveal, which passport you hold could play a major factor in where you get to travel next.

On Tuesday, The Passport Index, the real-time interactive resource for individuals and government agencies seeking information on global mobility, announced its quarter three passport power rankings. According to the company, the United States was one of the biggest gainers in the rankings, jumping 16 spots from 19th place in December 2020 to 3rd place today. 

“It is safe to say that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, as we see more and more countries safely opening up their borders,” Armand Arton, founder and president of Arton Capital, the creator of The Passport Index, shared in a statement. “Innovations are often born in times of crisis and we are starting to see this happening in the travel industry as well, with the future of travel looking a lot different than before the pandemic.” 

But who took home the number one spot? That would be New Zealand, followed closely by Germany, Spain, and Australia tied for second. Overall, the index saw a 6.5% increase in global mobility for passport holders across the 193 United Nations members and six selected territories it measures. 

As for how the Passport Index and the Global Mobility Score works, the company explains that it’s based on a whole bunch of data you don’t need to worry about, but really boils down to two key figures: The number of countries for which a passport has visa-free entry and the number it can obtain a visa for on arrival. For example, New Zealand passport holders can enter 92 countries visa-free and obtain visas on arrival at an additional 44. This means it has a total score of 136. The United States sits tied in the third-place spot with a score of 134 alongside Finland, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. 

“The Passport Index is more than just a simple ranking tool,” Hrant Boghossian, the vice president of marketing at Arton Capital, shared. “The Passport Index’s data engine can reflect the temporary and often disruptive geopolitical or pandemic-related travel restrictions in real-time.” 

As for the last-place spots, those belong to Somalia, whose passport holders came in 80th place with a total score of 34, followed by Syria with a score of 32, Iraq with a score of 31, Afghanistan with a total score of 30. Check out the entire list and where each passport stands here.

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Stacey Leasca is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trip Advisor, Departures, Expedia, Men’s Health, and Glamour, among other publications.