The Power of a Passport: The World’s Strongest and Weakest Passports of 2019

The Power of a Passport: The World’s Strongest and Weakest Passports of 2019
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For anyone interested in going abroad for a holiday or work trip, there is one thing they must have: a passport.  Measuring 125 x 88 mm, this bundle of documents is one of the most powerful possessions people can own. 

For some, the pocket-sized booklet will give them access to a majority of the world’s 195 countries without needing to obtain a visitor’s visa beforehand.  However, passport holders from other parts of the world do not have this privilege and are limited in the number of places they are allowed to visit on a whim. 

This can make things difficult for families planning vacations abroad. With influences from social media, television, books, and film, it is natural to want to explore other parts of the world and gain new, exciting experiences together with loved ones. However, these individuals with weaker passports may struggle to take their dream vacation as costs associated with obtaining travel visas can become expensive, especially for a family of four or more. It can also take weeks for visas to be approved; causing many families to just throw in the towel and plan a domestic trip. 

However, those holding weaker passports may very soon be able to choose from a wider range of holiday hot spots recommended in a family destination guide, due to increased globalization and rising economic powers in Asia and the Middle East. 

The World’s Most Accepted Passports

Which passports are considered the ‘strongest’ and ‘weakest’? The Henley Passport Index is the go-to source for finding out this information. 

Maintained by consultancy ‘Henley & Partners’, The Henley Passport Index utilizes exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to rank all of the world’s passports, “according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.”

Sitting at the top of the list are mostly European passports, with access to at least 180 countries includes:

  1. Japan and Singapore (190 countries)
  2. South Korea, Germany, and Finland (188)
  3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (187)
  4. France, Sweden, Spain (186)
  5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal (185)
  6. Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland (184)
  7. Czech Republic, Malta (183)
  8. New Zealand (182)
  9. Australia, Lithuania, Slovakia (181)
  10. Iceland, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia (180)

Rounding out the bottom of the list, with access to no more than 40 destinations is:

  1. Nepal (38)
  2. Libya, Palestinian Territory, Sudan (37)
  3. Yemen (33)
  4. Pakistan, Somalia (31)
  5. Syria (29)
  6. Iraq (27)
  7. Afghanistan (25)

Traveling Abroad: A family destination guide 

For those with stronger passports, choosing a place to take a family vacation is relatively simple. For example, Japan has visa-free or visa upon arrival access to a majority of countries in Asia, Western Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East – meaning they can visit all six of the world’s Disneylands, walk the Great Wall of China, see the Pyramids of Egypt, and climb Machu Picchu without having to obtain a visa before they set off.

However, those coming from countries with weaker passports are much more restricted with their choices. For example, passport holders from Nepal are limited mostly to Asian countries. To make the most of this freedom, they could take advantage of their visa free access to India and plan a visit to the historic Taj Mahal. Or, with access to Cambodia and the Philippines, experiencing the beautiful beaches of South East Asia could potentially be the trip of a lifetime. 

Either way, for all families no matter what passport they hold, it is wise to always check the visa requirements ahead of time and plan accordingly. 

A Changing Passport Landscape

In a time of rapid globalization and shifts in economic leaders, there is hope for those holding disadvantaged passports to soon be able to choose from more holiday spots in a family destination guide. Take the United Arab Emirates for example, this passport has risen 40 spots in only five years. Additionally, with growing business powers in Asian countries like China and India, there is potential for these passports to grow in the rankings in the coming years. If and when this happens, citizens are definitely due to benefit by gaining visa-free access to even more countries.