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Germany Now Has the Most Powerful Passport in the World

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Germany’s passport dominates the Passport Index by Arton Capital at the moment.

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Germany’s passport dominates the Passport Index by Arton Capital at the moment.

Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, Germany tops Arton Capital’s Passport Index with visa-free access to 134 destinations.

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When taking coronavirus-related border closures into account, a German passport is currently the most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 134 destinations. This makes it the strongest in the world, according to Arton Capital’s Passport Index, a ranking of the world’s passports in order of the number of destinations their holders can access without obtaining a visa prior to arrival. 

Unlike the Henley Passport Index, which placed Japan’s passport at the top of its 2021 rankings for the third consecutive year on January 5, Arton Capital’s Passport Index updates its rankings in real time as new visa waivers and changes are implemented, showing the current effect COVID-19 travel bans have on global mobility right now.

Sweden, Finland, Spain, and New Zealand follow closely behind Germany in joint second place with visa-free access to 133 destinations currently. Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland tie for third place with access to 132 destinations each. With current COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, the United States doesn’t make an appearance until 19th on the list, with visa-free access to just 103 destinations currently. 

Afghanistan and Iraq are currently at the bottom of the rankings at 78th place with access to only 30 destinations. Syria and Somalia ranked only slightly higher with each providing access to 33 destinations.

2021 strongest passports in the world, according to the Passport Index by Arton Capital

After taking in account COVID-19 travel restrictions, 2021’s most powerful passports in the world are:

  1. Germany (134 destinations)
  2. Sweden, Finland, Spain, New Zealand (133 destinations)
  3. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland (132 destinations)
  4. Netherlands, France, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Ireland, United Kingdom (131 destinations)
  5. Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Japan, South Korea (130 destinations)
  6. Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland (129 destinations)
  7. Malta, Slovakia, Australia (128 destinations)
  8. Cyprus, Liechtenstein (127 destinations)
  9. Croatia, Romania (126 destinations)
  10. Bulgaria (125 destinations)

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These rankings already show a significant rebound in mobility around the world. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic—on May 31, 2020, per the Passport Index by Arton Capital—the world’s most powerful passports allowed visa-free entry to just 112 destinations. Belgium, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Switzerland shared that top ranking on that date. Germany ranked second on that date with visa-free access to 111 destinations.

When you remove these temporary coronavirus-related travel bans, travel freedom for holders of many of these powerful passports looks very different. For example, when you view the Henley Passport Index, which released its most recent rankings in January 2021, without factoring in COVID-19 travel bans, the United States ranks seventh globally with access to 185 destinations.

2021 strongest passports in the world, according to the Henley Passport Index

Without COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, 2021’s most powerful passports in the world are:

  1. Japan (191 destinations)
  2. Singapore (190 destinations)
  3. South Korea, Germany (189 destinations)
  4. Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188 destinations)
  5. Denmark, Austria (187 destinations)
  6. Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland (186 destinations)
  7. Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, New Zealand  (185 destinations)
  8. Greece, Malta, Czech Republic, Australia (184 destinations)
  9. Canada (183 destinations)
  10. Hungary (182 destinations)

“Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and that holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before,” Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, explained in the January report. “The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic.”

The methodology

While the Passport Index by Arton takes into account the passports of 193 United Nations member countries plus six territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, and the Vatican) in its rankings, it excludes territories annexed to other countries—like French Polynesia and the British Virgin Islands—in its list of possible travel destinations that passport holders can access.

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The Henley Passport Index ranks the same 199 passports, but it also cross-checks each of those passports against all 227 possible travel destinations in the world even if those territories don’t issue their own passports. Keep in mind that Arton’s rankings are more subject to change as COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to loosen throughout 2021. To see the full rankings, visit henleypassportindex.com and passportindex.org.

This article originally appeared on January 16, 2020; it was updated on January 12, 2021, to include current information.

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