Citizens of Singapore hold the “most powerful passport” in the world, enjoying the most visa-free travel around the globe, according to a 2017 Passport Index by investment advisory firm Arton Capital. Singaporeans are able to travel to 159 countries without a visa, edging out Germans who enjoy visa-free access to 158 countries.
This is the first year that an Asian country has topped the rankings. Other Asian passports in the top 20 include South Korea, Japan and Malaysia. Singapore’s ranking climbed from 14th place in 2016 and was tied with Germany earlier this year until Paraguay’s decision to extend visa-free travel to Singaporeans broke the tie.
The United States and Canada tied for sixth place along with Ireland and Malaysia – behind 18 other countries, including more than a dozen European countries, South Korea and Japan. The U.S. tied for first place with the U.K. in 2015; however, its ranking slipped precipitously in 2017. This year, Turkey and the Central African Republic revoked visa waivers for U.S. citizens.
European countries including Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K., have held steady in the top-five rankings. Australia and New Zealand both ranked seventh. South Africa ranked third among African countries (behind the Seychelles and Mauritius) and 50th worldwide, earning a visa-free score of 92. In South America, Brazil ranked the highest with a score of 144, followed closely by Chile and Argentina, who tied at 143. Among Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the United Arab Emirates ranks the highest at 129. The UAE has the stated goal of being among the top five most important passports in the world by 2021. Afghanistan ranked the lowest at 23.
Countries are scored according to how many countries their citizens may travel to without having to secure a visa before travel.