Not all passports are created equal. Some allow their holders to travel more freely, entering countries without a separate visa or being eligible for an immediate visa upon arrival.
You may be surprised by which countries have the most powerful passports, and by how easy or difficult these passports are to get.
Your passport may be something you take for granted — a mere tool you use and show at the airport to get from point A to point B. But did you know that some passports carry with them more power and travel freedom than others?
Every year, various passport indexes rank passports globally based on how many other countries a passport allows you to visit without a separate visa. One of these is the Henley Passport Index, which uses information from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) database to create its rankings.
We’ve used the Henley Passport Index here, but occasionally note where there is disagreement. Whichever methodology you use, though, there’s no doubt that these are the world’s most powerful passports.
The title of world’s most powerful passport went to Japan for the third year in a row. A Japanese passport promises uncomplicated travel to 191 other countries and territories. In 2019, the passport promised access to 189 places and tied with Singapore’s passport as the world’s most desirable travel document.
Japanese citizenship is fairly straightforward. Adults over the age of 20 who are financially stable and have lived in Japan for at least five years can become citizens as long as they agree to honour the country’s constitution and revoke other citizenship.
Although Singapore may come in first according to Arton, it certainly still holds a prominent place on the Henley list as well, coming in as the second-most powerful passport in the world. Singaporean passport holders have access to 190 countries and territories without needing to obtain a visa before travel. Singapore moved up in the ranks when its citizens recently gained access to Paraguay without a visa application.
Becoming a Singaporean citizen and therefore becoming eligible for a Singaporean passport isn’t easy. Singapore is one of the world’s tiniest nations, and citizenship is somewhat exclusive as a result.
However, there are a few pathways to citizenship if you weren’t born in Singapore. If one of your parents is a Singaporean citizen and you were born after May 15, 2004, you’re eligible. If you were born earlier than this date, you’re eligible if your father is a citizen or was a citizen when you were born.
You’re also eligible for Singaporean citizenship if you’ve had Permanent Resident status for two years and work in Singapore or have a spouse who is a citizen. Permanent Residents who complete a stint in the uniformed services of the country may apply for citizenship as well.
#3 Germany & South Korea
German passport-holding citizens are granted access to 189 countries without the need to acquire a visa beforehand. (Many of these countries allow Germans to enter visa-free, while others issue a visa upon arrival.)
To get a German passport, you must first become a German citizen. While the process to do this can vary depending on what part of Germany you’re in, the general eligibility requirements are the same.
To become a naturalized citizen, you need to live in Germany for eight years and be able to speak German proficiently. If one or both of your parents had German citizenship at the time of your birth, you may be able to apply for citizenship without meeting these requirements. If you marry a German citizen, your path to citizenship is shortened to three years of residency rather than eight.
3.2 South Korea
In South Korea, the residency requirement for citizenship is similar — five years on your own, or two years if you marry a South Korean citizen. North Koreans who flee to South Korea gain automatic citizenship.
#4 Finland & Italy
Tied for the fourth place, Finland and Italy all have passports that give you access to 188 countries and territories without needing to go through a visa application process before travel.
Finnish citizenship isn’t easy, and it isn’t necessarily permanent. Although the country allows dual citizenship, if you become a citizen of another country and lose your ties to Finland, you lose your Finnish citizenship once you turn 22 years old.
Nevertheless, if you want access to one of the most powerful passports in the world, your citizenship is necessary and can be achieved through naturalization if you’ve lived in the country for a certain number of years, have a job, are an upstanding adult, and know the language. There are some other ways to declare citizenship, so it’s best to contact the Finnish government for more specific information.
It’s challenging to become a citizen of Italy if you’re not the child, grandchild, or spouse of an Italian citizen. The residency requirements are a bit shorter if you’re a citizen of another European Union (EU) country, but if you’re from outside of Europe, you’ll need to live in the country for a decade before you’re eligible for citizenship.
The paperwork is a bit daunting, and to achieve Italian citizenship, you usually need to give up any other citizenship you have. But it may well be worth it to you for the freedom of travel that comes with holding such a useful passport.
#5 Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain
The fifth spot for the most powerful passports in the world is held by 3 different countries, all tied. These passport holders have free travel access to 187 countries.
Denmark’s passport is available to Danish citizens. If you weren’t born in Denmark, there are still ways to become a Danish citizen through naturalization, but some of the requirements are complicated. Generally speaking, however, after you’ve lived in Denmark for nine years, you may be eligible as long as you’re debt-free and pass both a language and a knowledge test.
According to Expatica.com, to meet the conditions for Luxembourg nationality by naturalization, there are several conditions to be met: be 18 years of age or older, have legally lived in Luxembourg for seven consecutive years, passing an oral test of language and knowledge in Luxembourgish and meet integrity requirements.
Becoming a Spanish citizen requires five years of permanent residence, but note that you’re only eligible for permanent residence after you’ve lived there for five years.
So in actuality, unless you meet other criteria — such as being married to a Spanish citizen — you can expect to live in Spain for 10 years before you’re able to become a citizen and then apply for a passport.
#6 France & Sweden
Becoming a citizen in France requires that you live there for five years legally, or two years if you’re completing higher education while in the country. Again, you’ll need to be proficient in the language and prove your ability to integrate into French society.
Wanting to take up Swedish citizenship? We don’t blame you. Known for its excellent healthcare and quality child services, Sweden may seem like superior places to raise a family. To become a citizen, you need to live five years in the country, be an upstanding person, and learn the language.
#7. Austria, Ireland, Netherland, Portugal, Switzerland
Austria allows for 10 different types of permits designating residency, the first step to citizenship. The residence permit may offer all the travel freedom you need, as it allows you access to most countries in Europe without a visa. But if you want Austrian citizenship through naturalization, you’ll need to be a resident for 10 years (although numerous exceptions exist).
If 10 years seems like a bit much, consider Belgium, where the requirement is a mere three years, or Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where you’ll need to prove five-year residency.
Ireland has very precise rules about becoming a citizen through naturalization, though in a nutshell, you need to have lived in the country for five years. Because of the requirements regarding the number of days in a row you need to be in the country, though, it’s best to speak with an employee of the Minister for Justice for complete rules.
According to Expatica.com in order to get a dutch citizenship you have either: lived in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period of five years with a valid residence permit; been married to a Dutch national or lived with a Dutch national for three continuous years (including abroad); or you have resided in the Netherlands with a valid residence permit for a period of 10 years.
Living in Portugal for six years and knowing the language typically grant you eligibility for citizenship. In the United States, there’s a 10-step naturalization process that includes being a Permanent Resident for five years (or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen).
Switzerland shares this 10-year requirement, though if you were lucky enough to spend time living there between the ages of 10 and 20, those years count for double.
And if these are not enough reasons to try getting a Switzerland citizenship well you should also know that prostitution has been legal since 1942. There are red-light districts in most of the major Swiss cities: Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, and Lugano. 🙂 Check Swiss High-Class Escort for top class luxury escorts.
#8 Belgium, Greece, Norway, United Kingdom, United States
Belgium is an interesting option for citizenship, It can be tax efficient as an investor, as there are no capital gains taxes. Belgium is worthy of consideration as alternative citizenship, particularly if you want to spend some time in a European nation. In general, Belgian citizenship can be applied for after only 3 years of residency.
Proficiency in Dutch or French is sometimes required for the final step in the process to receive citizenship and passport from Belgium, though others have reported that they received citizenship without being fluent in Dutch or French.
In order to get the Greek citizenship by naturalization, the foreign citizen must meet certain formal requirements, which are: being an adult at the time of filing, not having a criminal impediment regarding a crime committed during the last decade, not being expelled from Greece and proving legal residence time in Greece, which is at least 5 consecutive years.
Generally speaking, you must have lived in Norway for a total of seven of the past ten years. In addition, you must have held valid residence permits (such as a work permit) that cover that period of time. Please keep in mind that Fluency in Norwegian is a non-negotiable when applying for citizenship. Applicants must have completed 250-300 hours (depending on your circumstances) of approved tuition in the Norwegian language.
8.4 United Kingdom
According to ImmigrationDirect.co.uk, there are 5 basic requirements to apply for British citizenship through naturalization that most candidates must meet:  You need to be over 18 years old,  Not having committed any serious crimes or immigration fraud,  Be currently living in the UK,  Meet the English language requirements and  Pass the “Life in the UK” test. The applicants must also have lived in the UK for at least 5 years, without an absence longer than 450 days and have a UK permanent residence (for EEA nationals) or been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (you must have had this for at least 1 year).
8.5 United States
The United States doesn’t make an appearance until eighth on the list, a ranking it shares in a five-way tie with other 4 countries, which each have visa-free access to 184 destinations. The last time the United States held the top spot in the Henley Index Passport rankings was back in 2015 when it tied for first place with the United Kingdom. Since Brexit and the 2016 election, both countries have slid a few spots a year to their current place at the edge of the top 10.
Check the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website for all the conditions you need to meet in order to get United States citizenship. Look for reasons to get USA citizenship? Well, we have one: 7 out of 10 people in our Top 10 Richest People in the world live in the USA.
More than 125,000 people in over 100 countries have been infected by the coronavirus, officially dubbed COVID-19. On March 11, 2020 President Donald Trump announced a temporary suspension of all travel between the U.S. and Europe, except for the United Kingdom, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Least powerful passports in the world 2020
Passports from countries like Canada, the UK, and the US all slipped in the rankings from 2019 to 2020 — but they are still desirable, with access to more than 180 destinations. For comparison, passports from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria offer access to fewer than 30 places.
The Henley Passport Index bases its list on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the largest database of travel information worldwide. To see the full rankings, visit henleypassportindex.com.
A competitor to Henley is Arton Capital, which produces what is simply known as Passport Index. One advantage of Arton’s Passport Index is that rankings are updated in real-time, whereas the Henley Passport Index publishes its rankings yearly.
Because of slight differences in methodology, the two passport indexes have small differences between them. Most notably, Henley acknowledges 218 countries and territories, whereas Arton only includes 199.