We Americans like to think that we have the most powerful passport in the world, and for a while, it was true. But in recent years the American passport has been slipping in the rankings, and this year in particular, our passport has taken quite the tumble.
A firm called Arton Capital has compiled an index of 197 countries. The country with the strongest passport this year, according to the index, is Singapore.
Due to a recent decision by Paraguay to let citizens of Singapore visit without travel visas, a Singapore passport can now get you into 159 countries with no visa or by obtaining a visa upon arrival. This marks the very first time that an Asian country has held the title of most powerful passport.
Next on the list is Germany with unfettered access to 158 countries. Sweden and South Korea come next at 157 countries, then comes the United Kingdom with a score of 156.
Then and only then do we get to the American passport, which provides access to 154 countries. That score ties up with Canada, Ireland, and Malaysia.
There are a few reasons for the drop in US passport power, and they are all linked to Trump.
Most recently, Turkey and the Central African Republic did away with their visa-free travel privileges for Americans.
Trump also refused to change America’s visa requirements to give citizens of five EU countries the opportunity to visit the United States without visas. Those countries are Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. This irked the EU, which is proud of all of its members (with the possible exception of the Brexit-y UK), and so the European Parliament voted in March to end visa-free travel for US citizens.
This change hasn’t gone into effect yet and it’s not clear if it ever will, but if it did, the US passport would be weakened substantially more.
Of course, we’re still nowhere near the bottom of the list. The ominous title of least powerful passport goes to Afghanistan this year with just 22 countries allowing visa-free access. The next countries up the list are Pakistan and Iraq with a score of 26 each.
If you’re not sure if you’ll need a visa for your next international trip, you’re not alone. The visa and passport requirements for US citizens seem to be shifting on a weekly basis. But rest assured that we are staying on top of all of the international developments. Wherever you’re heading in the world, give us a call for the very latest travel information. We can help you expedite any visas you may need and make sure your passport has enough pages and validity left to get you through your trip.
Laurie Lee is co-founder and CEO of Swift Passport and Visa Services. A Chicago native, Laurie loves adventure travel, especially to the Caribbean. She enjoys writing for the Swift Post, as well as for her personal blog, Spare Parts- www.sparebodyparts.com.