Passports are crucial for international travel, granting citizens the ability to jet off around the world. However, not all passports are equal, with some allowing for visa-free access to certain nations, as well as more lenient international taxation laws, better global perception, dual citizenship, and personal freedoms.
Research by travel experts at Nomad Capitalist has revealed the most powerful passports for 2020 based on these factors and discovered that Europe is one of the most well-esteemed continents in the world.
The top ten “most powerful passports in the world” were found to all be in Europe, with Sweden, Luxembourg, and Ireland sharing the crown as the ultimate passports to hold.
All three passports earned an index ranking of 114.
Sweden previously ranked number two on the index, but has since taken the top spot thanks to visa-free travel to 186 countries, “high level of personal freedom”, and an “excellent global reputation.”
Also making the top ten passports were Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Singapore, Czech Republic and Malta.
All passport’s earned a score of 112 or more.
Although the UK passport did not quite make the top ten, it wasn’t far off, ranking as the 11th most powerful passport in the world.
UK citizens can visit 185 countries visa-free, are almost always allowed to hold another citizenship, have “relatively high levels of personal freedom” and are perceived “quite highly abroad”.
Unfortunately for Britons, it’s score was lowered due to difficulties pertaining to tax laws when moving abroad.
By comparison, the US passport which ranks at number 40, also allows visitors to visit 185 countries visa-free, but citizens are taxed on their worldwide income no matter where they live and are not perceived as highly as their British counterparts.
Japan, which ranked 21st on the list, is the best passport for travelling with access to 191 countries visa-free.
While the research is good news for European passport holders, there was one country which was deemed as having the least desirable passport in the world.
The Nomad Capitalist experts found Afghanistan’s passport scored just 21 points based on the considered factors.
According to the report: “This passport only allows entry into 26 countries visa-free, its citizens are often refused entry to a substantial number of countries and also encounter substantial hostility, its citizens are strictly forbidden to hold other citizenships and they also experience less freedom.”
Other passports nearing the bottom of the list included Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
A spokesperson for Nomad Capitalist explained the purpose of the ranking system, saying: “The Nomad Passport Index was designed to educate aspiring global citizens about the true value of the world’s citizenships.
“While most indexes – and most people – think of a passport only in terms of travel privileges, we realised that citizens of different countries deal with far different requirements to pay tax, live freely, comply with regulations, and avoid scrutiny when travelling.
“In that regard, the number of countries a passport holder may visit does not tell the whole story.
“The Nomad Passport Index speaks to those seeking personal freedom and financial prosperity in a changing world by more deeply analysing the true value of each passport.”