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Every year, the list of powerful passports around the world is released to inform the world of which countries enjoy the most—and least—freedom in movement in terms of visa-free arrangements and limitations.

In 2021, the UAE is the only Arab nation with a passport in the top 20 most powerful passports in the world. The UAE is ranked 16th in the world. India, which was ranked 84th last year, has dropped to 90th place, with Indian passport holders being able to travel visa-free to 58 countries.

How about the other countries? We look at the list this year.

What is the Passport Index?

The Passport Index is the world’s first and only interactive passport rating tool. It is the only worldwide passport rating that is updated in real time when new visa exemptions and modifications are introduced.

Arton Capital, a financial services business with headquarters in Montreal, established the Passport Index in 2014. The index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the world’s biggest and most accurate travel database.

What is the methodology of the passport ranking?

The Passport Index analyses passports based on visa-free travel possibilities, as well as how hospitable countries are to international visitors.

The Passport Index methodology is based on the following:

  • A total of 199 passports from 193 UN member nations and six territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, and Vatican) are evaluated.
  • Territories annexed to other countries that do not issue their own passports, such as Norfolk Island (Australia), French Polynesia (France), and the British Virgin Islands (Britain), are excluded and are not considered destinations.
  • Destinations are countries that provide passports, regardless of whether they have separate visa rules or not.
  • Data is based on official government information, which is updated in real time using crowdsourced intelligence and supplemented with private research from highly reputable sources.
  • The patriotic residents of their country submit a large quantity of passport pictures. While some opted to remain anonymous, the vast majority of contributors have been acknowledged.

Types of scores

  • Visa-free score: The Passport Index ranks passports based on a “total visa-free score,” which assigns passports a point for each country their holders can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival or by obtaining electronic travel authorization (ETA). The country with the highest visa-free score has the most powerful passport.
  • Welcoming Score: The Passport Index awards one point to each country’s passport which allows its bearer to enter visa-free or with visa on arrival. The country with the highest welcoming score is the most welcoming country in the world.
  • World Openness Score: The World Openness Score is a measure that reflects the travel openness between countries. It has grown from 17,904 to 18,680 between 2015 and August 2017. On 21 November 2018 it had reached 20,189.
  • Global Mobility Score: The Global Mobility Score is a benchmark that shows an individual’s level of freedom of global mobility reflecting one or more passports in their possession. Higher scores reflect increased freedom of mobility.

Types of ranking

  • Global Passport Power Rank: World’s passports are ranked by their total visa-free score. Countries that share equal visa-free scores, are sorted by the number of visa-free countries portion of that score.
  • Individual Passport Power Rank: Data from the latest UN Human Development Index is used to further break the ties and order the countries in unique ranks.
  • Welcoming Countries Rank: The Passport Index ranks countries by how welcoming they are to other nationalities.

What does it mean to have a powerful passport?

It simply refers to a passport with less limitations, such as not requiring visas for vacation excursions. A powerful passport gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to travel. Many nations will let you enter if you have a strong passport, and you may frequently do so without paying any visa fees. If you hold a European passport, for example, you can travel to any Euro Zone nation without a visa.

World’s top 20 powerful passports in 2021

  1. Japan, Singapore
  2. Germany, South Korea
  3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain
  4. Austria, Denmark
  5. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden
  6. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland
  7. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway, UK, US
  8. Australia, Canada
  9. Hungary
  10. Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia
  11. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia
  12. Iceland
  13. Malaysia
  14. Liechtenstein
  15. Cyprus
  16. UAE, Chile, Monaco, Romania
  17. Bulgaria
  18. Croatia
  19. Hong Kong
  20. Argentina, Brazil

World’s 10 least powerful passports in 2021

1. Iran, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan
2. Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya
3. North Korea
4. Nepal, Palestinian Territory
5. Somalia
6. Yemen
7. Pakistan
8. Syria
9. Iraq
10. Afghanistan