World’s most powerful passports ranked in study

World’s most powerful passports ranked in study

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The United States passport is more powerful today than it was a year ago, according to the results of a new study.

The 2017 Visa Restriction Index released by Henley and Partners has determined that the U.S. passport ranks just behind Germany’s and Sweden’s in terms of traveling power — with Germany’s and Sweden’s allowing for travel to 176 and 175 countries, respectively, and the U.S. allowing for travel to 174.

A year ago, the same index ranked the U.S. passport as the world’s fourth most powerful.

America’s passport now shares its third-place ranking alongside those from Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain, all of which allow for entry to 174 countries in total.


The VRI arrives at a passport’s score based on the number of countries and territories its citizens are permitted to enter visa-free. Henley and Partners counts 219 countries and territories in total, with 218 being a perfect VRI score, reports MarketWatch. (A citizen needs no passport within their own country.)

However, Christian H. Kälin, group chairman of Henley and Partners, says he expects subsequent rankings to change more dramatically than they have in the past, based on recent events.

“We have witnessed several major events recently that are likely to have an impact on global mobility — including Brexit and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Both can be interpreted as steps toward restricting movement and creating barriers to entry,” said Kälin in a statement.

“Generally, visa requirements are a reflection of a country’s relationship with others, and take into account diplomatic relationships between countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the dangers of visa and immigration regulation violations,” he added.

Meanwhile, the countries whose passports currently have the least traveling power include Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Somalia — all of which have ranked among the bottom five in VRI’s rankings since its 2015 index.

VRI’s top 10 countries with the most powerful passports are listed below:

Rank Country Score
1 Germany 176
2 Sweden 175
3 Denmark 174
  Finland 174
  Italy 174
  Spain 174
  U.S. 174
4 Austria 173
  Belgium 173
  France 173
  Luxembourg 173
  Netherlands 173
  Norway 173
  Singapore 173
  U.K. 173
5 Ireland (Republic of) 172
  Japan 172
  New Zealand 172
6 Croatia 171
  Greece 171
  Portugal 171
  Switzerland 171
7 Australia 170
  Korea (Republic of, South) 170
8 Iceland 169
9 Czech Republic 168
10 Hungary 167

The full rankings can be found at Henley and Partners’ website.


Henley and Partners has been publishing an annual Visa Restriction Index for more than a decade. The International Air Transport Association contributes data and travel information for ranking purposes.