passports best worse

The Best and

Worst Passports




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The “Best” Passports

When it comes to crossing international frontiers, there’s one travel document that opens more doors than any other.

But it isn’t a U.S. passport.

German citizens have the greatest potential for world travel. With a German passport, visitors can enter 177 out of 218 countries and territories without a visa, according to the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index.

Right behind Germany is Sweden, with visa-free access to 176 countries.

Northern and Western Europe

Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are now tied for third place, making Northern and Western European citizens the most privileged in international travel.

Belgium, Denmark and Netherlands stand alongside the U.S. in fourth.

This year’s index shows that citizenship of a superpower doesn’t carry the clout it once did: the United States ranked first in 2014 and 2015.

Japan and South Korea were also among the group in the top three in 2014 and 2015, but have slid down to fifth and sixth place respectively this year.

The “Worst” Passports

At the bottom of the list, labeled countries with the “worst passports,” are Afghanistan, at 104, followed by Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria.

The index, compiled annually since 2006 by the London-based consulting firm Henley and Partners and the International Air Transport Association, ranks nations by how freely their citizens can explore the planet.

Freedom Factors

With cumulative data from 11 years, Henley and Partners, a firm specializing in immigration and citizenship services, explains that visa requirements “reflect strongly” countries’ relationships with one another.

“The criteria that a government considers in granting visa-free access to citizens of another country include diplomatic relationships between both countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, or risks of violation of visa terms,” said a representative of Henley and Partners.


The company believes that freedom of movement, in terms of “visa-free access,” is generally improving around the world since no country has dropped more than three places, while some made huge leaps in the ranking.

East Timor, which gained independence in 1999 and signed a mutual visa-waiver agreement with the EU in May of 2015, made the steepest climb of 33 places to land at 57, while Colombia, at 50th, had moved up 25 spots.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, fell from 16th to 20th place.


A surge in country wealth — that allows citizens to flash their tourism cash — usually also means a warmer welcome from host nations.

China is now at 87, tied with Cambodia, having risen from 93rd place in 2015 after countries like Japan, South Korea and the United States relaxed visa restrictions for Chinese tourists.

The United Kingdom and Australia have also announced plans to further ease requirements to attract Chinese tourists.

The Gap

The large disparity between different citizens’ travel mobilities is striking.

Citizens of wealthy, democratic countries continue to enjoy free movements around the world, while countries torn by war and conflict, poverty and autocracy remain stuck on the bottom rung of the list.

The Best and Worst Passports

World’s best passports (by number of countries granting visa-free access)

1) Germany — 177
2) Sweden — 176
3) Finland, France, Italy, Spain, UK — 175
4) Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, U.S. — 174
5) Austria, Japan, Singapore — 173
6) Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Switzerland — 172
7) Greece, New Zealand — 171
8) Australia — 169
9) Malta — 168
10) Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland — 167
11) Slovakia — 165
12) Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Slovenia — 164
13) Latvia — 163
14) Estonia, Lithuania — 162
15) Poland — 161
16) Monaco — 160
17) Cyprus — 159
18) San Marino — 156
19) Chile — 155
20) Hong Kong – 154

World’s worst passports

94) Liberia — 43
95) Burundi, North Korea, Myanmar — 42
96) Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka — 39
97) Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen — 38
98) Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Nepal, Palestinian Territory, Sudan — 37
99) Libya — 36
100) Syria — 32
101) Somalia — 31
102) Iraq — 30
103) Pakistan — 29
104) Afghanistan — 25

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1. Most people think the US citizens have the most valued passport. True or false? What is the reality?

2. Citizens of what region or part of the world has the greatest opportunity for travel?

3. Do countries of the same continent have the “worst passports”?

4. The index or raking of national passports was compiled by a government agency (foreign department). Is this right or wrong?

5. What are some of the criteria in granting visa-free travel?

6. In general, has the global freedom of movement increased, decreased or remained the same?

7. Is there a general pattern or trend in freedom of travel or visa-free travel?

8. What can be said about China and it’s citizens?


A. Do you need a visa for most of your travels or are visas unnecessary?

B. Which countries do you need a visa to visit? Which countries can you visit visa-free?

C. Which countries don’t need a visa to visit your country?

D. There should be complete open, free travel. What do you think? What are the pros and cons of unrestricted travel?

E. What will happen in the future?




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