Passports always sort of fascinated me. They tell a story about the holder – where they’ve been, who they are, how often they travel abroad. If I had to see the passports of three people in the world I’d probably choose Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Barack Obama, and any CIA operative.

I somehow just discovered the Passport Index and I’m about as surprised as anybody at the top 10 most powerful passports.


Ranking System

Each passport is ranked based upon three criteria:

  1. Visa-Free Score (VFS) – includes visa-free (VF) and visa on arrival (VOA)
  2. VF portion of their score vs VOA
  3. United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index (UNDP HDI) is used as a tie breaker. The UNDP HDI is a significant measure on the country’s perception abroad.

The system is pretty straight forward. The rankings take into consideration a specific passport’s restrictions (or lack thereof) against 199 other countries with either one of the following characteristics: visa on arrival, visa required, eTA, or visa free.

Without further adieu, the rankings:

Rank Country (VFS Score)
1 Germany (157)
Sweden (157)
2 Finland (156)
Italy (156)
Switzerland (156)
France (156)
Spain (156)
United Kingdom (156)
3 Denmark (155)
Netherlands (155)



What’s interesting is that the United States passport is ranked in the 4th tier with a VFS score of 154. When compared to the #1 Germany, the U.S. passport falls short on countries like Bolivia, Brazil, Gambia, Iran, Paraguay, Samoa, Turkey, UAE, and Vietnam where visas are mostly required for US citizens, they are not for Germans.

The differences are small and the disparity between these countries is not great, but this data is very interesting nonetheless.

Head over to Passport Index for news and notes regarding passport rules and travel restrictions.