Power Passports: 10 Countries That Open Doors for You

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Overall, it is clear that having a power passport opens up a great deal of opportunity and can lead to a more positive lifestyle.

The importance of having a power passport can often be overlooked. It holds a lot of value in terms of negotiating employment opportunities with higher income, an improved quality of life, and increased travel safety, often for the entire family. With a strong or power passport, this means that there’s a lot of potential for visa-free traveling. For example, with an Australian passport, it is possible to travel to 169 countries without obtaining a visa. Visa applications in themselves can be difficult, take up time, and may not always result in the visa being granted. For countries that have visa-free access to the EU, this can be a good opportunity to work overseas and take advantage of a higher income, and retirement is often a good time to move to another country where the weather is better.

A passport is a crucial tool for international travel. It is used to confirm someone’s identity and nationality. A power passport is more than just a document that permits a move from one country to another, but a ranking of global mobility. The power of a passport is often measured by how much visa-free access it has to other countries. Generally, the more visa-free access a passport has, the more powerful it is (Lu, 2008). A power passport is one that could gain a high ranking on the global mobility scale.

What is a power passport?

Passports are one of the most essential forms of identification there is today. It is necessary for all international travel and is used to verify one’s country of citizenship. Power passports are those that offer the most access to other countries. They are described in terms of the number of countries and territories on their visa-free lists, in the case of this essay, those countries for which the citizen does not require any type of visa or landing authorization, to be able to make at least a short tourist, business or diplomatic visit. This definition encompasses several different visa categories, including those who automatically and unconditionally receive the right to visit where there is no specific requirement but the status is known to be limited to special categories of citizens such as US B1/B2 visa holders, and those on electronic travel authorizations. The most powerful passport is one that offers access to the highest number of countries. This is due to the fact that there are some countries that require a visa from all but a select few foreign nations, regardless of the specific purpose of the visit. Some other countries offer a “landing authorization” to a select few countries and territories, and the remainder only require specific visas for all foreign visitors. These attitudes are typically a matter of reciprocity, national security concerns and the general foreign policy stance of the host country. At the upper extreme, there are cases where war or political/economic isolation from the international community prevents a country’s citizens from entering many other countries without great difficulty and cost. This is a particularly acute example today for the citizens of the former Soviet countries who were unable to freely travel to the west until the 1990s and often still require visas for countries that were behind the Iron Curtain. Power passports are most useful for those who travel frequently and/or without fixed plans and destinations.

Importance of having a power passport

Traveling is something that all of us wish to do. Some prefer going in their own country, while others visit different parts of the world. But getting an entry to a foreign country without any restrictions is something very few people can do. All this has to do with the power of one’s passport. A passport enables its holder to move from one country to the other. Without a passport, a person cannot travel to any other country. Depending on which country you belong to, the power of your passport may vary. Some countries have more powerful passports while others have weaker ones. But what is a power passport? A passport can be considered a power passport when its holder can travel to many other countries without any or very few restrictions. A power passport can give you visa-free entry in numerous countries, while others may have a harder time to visit the same place. Passport power is often understood as the degree of ease with which a country’s passport holder can enter other countries. A power passport allows visa-free entry or entry with an easily obtainable visa to many countries. Holders of weaker passports will have to go through the process of obtaining a visa, and it may not guarantee that the visa will be obtained. Many times, visa applications with weaker passports are rejected. This can become quite frustrating for the individual. The reason for visa rejections or difficulties with obtaining visas is due to the individual not meeting specific criteria set by the foreign country. However, usually visa restrictions for weaker passports are in place due to global power politics, or because that country requires the stronger passport holder to obtain a visa. Does this not seem like discrimination? Visa laws and restrictions are many times a reflection of the country’s power in a global context, and many laws have been put in place due to political situations or events that have taken place between two countries. Often, the common man has to bear the brunt of such issues.

Top 10 Countries with Power Passports

United States

The United States has been largely considered the world superpower for quite some time and its passport reflects the great status. It is constantly at the top of the list for most powerful passports, offering visa-free access to 171 countries easily. It is regarded as one of the most influential documents citizens can hold. There is a reason why most American tourists are not turned away at foreign borders, it is just too valuable not to let in. Along with the many opportunities that are offered to American citizens through travel, it also creates a global perspective on issues that matter most to the United States. One of the most controversial issues since the Bush administration was the introduction of biometric chips on a passport. Over time, it has evolved into a digital form suitable for most smartphones. Despite major security concerns and privacy issues, this makes it a pioneer to push technology and our vital information into an internationally accessible form. Whether it is right or wrong, it is groundbreaking. The privilege of visa-free access to nearly any country, expedited internet, and offers of further simplification of international travel make the United States passport the leading standard for power.


An example of this cautious diplomacy occurred in the 1980s when Germany was the only NATO country to oppose sanctions against the then communist Poland and at the same time supported solidarity to assist the Polish Government. This helped Germany maintain good relations with the communist Eastern Bloc at the height of the Cold War and for it to eventually establish strong ties with the states after communism fell. This ultimately led to visa agreements being signed with various Eastern Bloc countries. GDR has a separate instance with Czechoslovakia. After student Jan Palach’s self-immolation protest against the end of the Prague Spring, the GDR was the only country to support the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and Germany-Czechoslovakia ties were relatively strong throughout the communist era as a result.

Of course, the main reason for this is Germany’s advanced economy and vast political influence. But other countries in similar positions to Germany do not have as good passport conditions. The main reason for this lies in its cautious diplomacy. This allows it to be on good terms, and to avoid war, with just about every country. The less wars and conflicts with other countries a nation has, the higher the likelihood of visa-free travel between these countries.

Start with the fact that if you have a German passport, you can enter 157 countries without a visa. That’s more than any other country. The US, in comparison, gets you into 155 and the UK and France, 153. And, it gets better, for 15 of those countries you can get a visa on arrival which effectively works out as no visa requirements at all.


Japan has significantly developed and improved on their passports ranking. In 2009, Japan was ranked as having the 20th most powerful passport in the world with visa-free access to 61 countries. Currently, Japan is ranked as having the 9th most powerful passport according to the Henley visa restrictions index with visa-free access to 173 countries. It is expected that Japan will continue to rise in the rankings. This is due to Japan’s dedication to become a more globalized nation and attract more foreigners to the country as Japan is currently suffering from an aging population and lack of workers. In preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is aiming to have visa-free access to over 200 countries for athletes and tourists. This will surely help to boost Japan’s tourism and help Japan reach its projected goal. It is interesting to note visa policies are normally reciprocal; that is if a country requires a visa for Japanese citizens then Japan will require a visa for citizens of that country. This is crucial in understanding why visa-free access is an important factor to the Japanese passport as in 2015 Japan was the largest creditor nation. Regarding visa-free access in comparison to the countries mentioned in previous pages, Japan has a 4 country lead in comparison to France and Italy, a 10 country lead in comparison to the UK, an 11 country lead in comparison to Canada, and a 20 country lead in comparison to the USA. Germany is currently tied with Japan however it can be assumed Japan’s visa-free access will increase more rapidly. In the future, Japan may be placed alongside Sweden and the Netherlands. Although the individual visa policies will greatly differ, the steady rise of Japan in the rankings is a good indicator of Japan’s development as a globalized nation.

United Kingdom

Britain offers a six-tier visa system. This system is called the five-tier points-based system + 1 visitor work permit system. As the United Kingdom is a full EEA (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) member, it expects a good number of immigrants from these countries, thus it exempts its residents from UK work permits. Any other people from different countries planning to work in the UK need to obtain a certificate of sponsorship, which typically requires 32 points. This visa system includes visas for highly skilled workers, skilled workers, Sector Based Scheme, students, families, and Youth Mobility.

In order to be in this world, every human is hundred percent sure that he or she does need a permanent staying place for their life. Staying can be on rent or predetermined, and permanent residence is always on foreigners’ list.


Upon analysis of the Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index, French citizens have one of the strongest passports as they may travel to 125 countries without visa requirements. Firstly, as they are part of the European Union, it allows French citizens to live and work in any of the other 30 EU member states. With 125 countries allowing visa-free entry to French citizens, it will also allow for companies in active pursuit of nationality and location diversification to have employees in France with greater ease. This can be an attractive option for companies seeking to gain purchasing power in markets abroad by retaining domestic employees at a lower cost. French citizens also have the second-best passport in terms of visa waiver to countries with higher populations (China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh). While only the United States has a higher amount of visa-free access to G20 countries, French have easier access to those within high population percentile. The anchor of power passports lies within the ability to gain access to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations. As there is an increase in GDP and purchasing power within BRIC nations, companies from respective countries or abroad will look for business opportunities, acquisitions, and mergers. French citizens can enter Russia and Brazil without visa requirements, which is quite important as these two countries hold the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. French citizen visa restriction to China has been easing with the signing of bilateral agreements on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders and visa simplification for regular passport holders. Currently, French citizens can obtain a tourist visa to China with multiple entries and valid for up to 2 years. It is essential for bettering France-China relations that France achieves easier Chinese visa requirements for entry.


So what are you waiting for? With sunny weather, food, and scenic beauty everywhere you go, coupled with such great travel access, perhaps it’s time to make Italy that second home after all!

Plus, if the ink dries on that Italian passport and you decide to settle into life in the New World, it’s useful to know that Italy has a number of reciprocal agreements with nations such as the US, Canada, and Australia which require an Italian passport for easy acquisition of residency or citizenship in those countries.

But it’s not just about quantity; it’s the quality of access too. With an Italian passport, holders can travel to all G8 countries (US, UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Russia, Japan, and France) with the exception of Russia with ease – with smooth, visa-less entry being the norm.

The Italian passport is the 4th most powerful in the world, being able to access 152 countries with ease – with minimal visa restrictions and visas issued on arrival. Because we’re part of the European Union, the Italian passport also grants you easy access to a further 33 countries in Europe. Traveling to Europe simply couldn’t be any easier, and as a result, it’s possible for an Italian passport holder to easily travel to 185 countries in total.

Italy has always been synonymous with delicious food, fantastic fashion, and of course, their world-famous landmark: the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But with a passport from the bel paese, the world could soon be synonymous with your second home.


Sweden is an international powerhouse with a strong identity. It is consistently ranked among the most politically stable, environmentally friendly, competitively economic, and prosperous countries in the world. Economic success has been forged by a commitment to free market policies and the harnessing of its strong intellectual capital. This has transformed the country from a low income, resource dependent nation in the 19th century to one of the richest countries in the world. The Krona has been a traditionally weak currency but at present, many find themselves choosing Sweden as a safe haven during global economic volatility. Half of Sweden’s GDP comes from exports. Major industries include motor vehicles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, industrial machines, precision equipment, chemical goods, home goods and appliances, forestry, iron, and steel. Notable companies include Ericsson, Volvo, Skanska, IKEA, Electrolux, and H&M. Sweden’s tradition of heavy industrial investment is being abandoned as its manufacturing sector adjusts to postindustrial services and production. The culminating effect is a dynamic change in Sweden’s image and a shift towards knowledge-dependent industries.


Ways to migrate: There are several ways to live and work in the Netherlands, many of which begin with a temporary stay. In addition to a number of temporary residence permits, the government has established a motivation scheme called Temporary Residence for Motivated Migrants (MVV). The residence permit is intended for employers wishing to hire foreign entrepreneurs, and for foreign individuals who wish to reside and work in the Netherlands independently. The most well-known migration procedure is family reunification, which includes only those whose family members already reside in the Netherlands and those from specific countries with emerging economies (this last category also includes those desiring orientation year residence). There is also the general examination, more commonly known as the civic integration examination, which is a program that provides loans to immigrants for the purpose of integration, and funding in specific areas for information and communication aids.

People: The people of the Netherlands are called Dutch. The population is around 16,318,199 (July 2008 est.), with the ethnic composition being Dutch 80.7%, EU 5%, Indonesians 2.4%, Turks 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccans 2%, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba 0.8%, and other 4.8% (2008 est.). 71% of the population speaks Dutch, 2.4% speaks German, and 0.9% speaks French. 86.2% of the population professes to some degree of Christianity, while around 5% is Muslim. The Netherlands is an aging population, with 0-14 years at 17.6%, 15-64 years at 67.1%, and 65 years and over at 15.4% (2008 est.).

Climate: The climate in the Netherlands is basically maritime cool, with cloudy and humid winters and summers. The country has a sea climate due to its location on the North Sea, which gives it a highly variable and relatively mild maritime climate.

Location: The Netherlands is located in Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany. The country is part of the European continent and has an area of 41,526 sq km, two-thirds of which is below sea level.


Canada has the Visa Waiver Program and is one of the 15 nations allowed to visit the US without a visa. With this special privilege, holding a Canadian passport gives you easy access to the US. Its ties with the UK and other Commonwealth nations also benefit its passport holders, with some countries offering special work visas, residency rights, and other privileges to young Canadians travelling abroad. This means that the Canadian passport can be a great travel document not only for visits to the United Kingdom, but also for exploring other Commonwealth nations. Some work is required to search out the specifics, but Canadians bound for the UK, New Zealand, Australia, or other Commonwealth nations may find that their efforts are well-rewarded. While these benefits are not always obvious and require some research, Canadians travelling to other Commonwealth countries can often find special visa arrangements or working holiday programs not available to citizens of non-Commonwealth nations. Finally, Canada is known for being a safe haven for refugees, while its commitment to humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, and multilateral diplomacy show that it is a nation with an interest in fostering good international relations, all things that can help a Canadian traveller in times of need abroad.


Australian passport holders can enter 169 countries without a visa, placing them top-equal with Greece and also come up tops with Turkish passport holders. However, this is not the only reason Australia plays a significant role in the Global Passport Power Rank. They are currently the only country that can attain a 10-year travel visa for China. Given how important and powerful the economy in China currently is, having a 10-year travel visa is critical in terms of doing business and entering for Australian business people. Up until the recent Brexit decision, Australian passport holders were also eligible to work in the UK and under the youth mobility scheme, those between the ages of 18-30 can live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. This incurred much less hassle compared to Britons as Australians were eligible to work in the EU countries while UK citizens were only allowed to work in Ireland and had to obtain permits for all other EU countries. With Brexit on the horizon, the Passport Power score will potentially drop by an extra 10 points. However, the score for access to the UK won’t change seeing as citizens who were already living in the UK at the time of Brexit will be eligible for permanent residency in the UK and may apply for citizenship after five years. This means that they will retain the same inbound and outbound access rights to EU countries, but as a part of a separate agreement than EU passport holders. But there’s no doubt that for Australians, the good old days when you could live and work in the UK with minimum visa requirement have long gone. It’s not all bad though, according to a statement from Malcolm Turnbull, Australia will be hoping to strike up a UK free trade deal as a new Anglo-Australian relationship era is heralded. This will potentially benefit incoming and outgoing UK and Australian travellers but it does not change the fact that in terms of visa-free access and aligning with EU laws, the good times are over for Australians. On a more positive note, with famous Swiss efficiency and reliability, the Swiss watch themselves stated that from 2019, Australian tourists will once again be granted 6 months visa-free access to Switzerland.

Benefits of Owning a Power Passport

Restrictions on travel to Western countries have also been cited as being detrimental to the morale and productivity of university students and researchers (Walgate, 2000). Visa refusals, a common occurrence for citizens of third world countries, are seen as a diplomatic slap in the face. Visa requirements often change, the process is expensive and many view it as discriminatory, having been implemented or modified in response to security threats, illegal immigration, and refugee movements.

Visa-free entry is the least restrictive form of allowing a foreign national to enter a country; it requires no pre-application and is typically granted on arrival for a short period. In many third world countries, lack of visa-free access to Western countries is associated with a collective stigma attached to their citizens, as evidenced by nicknames like the Filipino “Balikbayan (returning visitor) Visa” for the US visa and the South African “Green Mamba” for the UK visa.

A power passport furthers your travel advantages over your countrymen by allowing visa-free entry to a greater number of countries. Possession of a power passport gives visa-free access to the 25 countries listed in Table 1. Those holding the passports of the top three countries have visa-free access to over 130 countries, compared with fewer than 40 for the average citizen of a major third world country.

Visa-free travel to numerous countries

Although a number of countries already have visa exemptions for certain nationalities, especially neighboring countries and residents of developing countries, visa policy may also depend specifically upon the type of passport of the country. Measures such as easing of visa restrictions are used by countries for purposes related to national interest, such as encouraging tourism, or by expressing warm diplomatic relations to specific countries. For this reason, it is sometimes possible to find visa exemptions for certain passport holders and not others from the same country. Power passport holders can generally be more confident in visa-free status with the more universally accepted priority of nationalities and generally not encounter visa problems based on their passport type.

Case by case, stricter visa regulations tend to be applied by developed countries and countries where passport power is lower. Entry to many developing countries may be easy and require no visa or offer a visa issued on arrival. For example, Philippine passport holders can enter more than 150 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival. However, entry to Japan, South Korea, and the European countries would require a visa for most cases.

In general, a visa or visa exemption is established by the state. A power passport holder may bypass the formalities of consular visa application and be permitted entry to the country. Today, there are more than 200 countries and territories in the world. Ordinary passport holders of these countries require a visa to enter about a quarter of them. This means visa-free access is available to power passport holders in some countries because they already have visa exemption due to their nationality. Certain countries may have agreements to abolish visa requirements between nationals.

Access to better job opportunities

A power passport can make a significant difference in an individual’s career prospects. Firstly, individuals from developing countries often find it extremely difficult to obtain a work or residence permit for a developed country, no matter their level of experience or education. By having a power passport, they can take advantage of visa-free access to countries like the USA, Canada or the UK, thus allowing them to stay for up to 6 months and apply for a job whilst there. This can be a huge advantage, as many employers in these countries are less likely to take on somebody from overseas if they have to go to the trouble of sponsoring a work visa for them. The permit may also allow the employee to work in a position of their choice, and in some instances may even lead to permanent residence or citizenship in that country. Visa permit holders are often restricted to certain types of employment and have reduced job security as their status in a country is often not stable. Secondly, a power passport puts individuals in a better position to compete for jobs in international organizations, or NGOs. Many organizations require employees to be nationals of certain developed countries due to desired qualifications, language skills or for security clearance purposes. For example, it is difficult to obtain a job in a high-ranking position in the UN, the World Bank, or the Red Cross if you are not a citizen of one of the major donor countries. With a passport from a country like Australia, you may be able to secure a good job in an international organization and use that as a pathway to move into a position in the United Nations, thus increasing your future global career prospects.

Higher quality of life

Pulled from this context, higher quality of life does function as an attraction to residency in a certain location, but this is contingent on whether the immigrant is what we’d call a “voluntary” rather than a “push” migrant. The former may seek to improve his standard of living or that of his family, but the latter is often political or “emergency” migrant seeking asylum, not a better way of life. Access to a powerful passport is irrelevant to the “push” migrant as the immigration barriers to a country with a better quality of life, as suggested here, would be high and anyway passage to such countries would often be possible with or without a visa.

Additionally, political instability and conflict within a country or region can greatly interfere with the quality of life experienced by its residents, with war being the greatest offender. Even low-intensity conflicts and postwar reconstruction can decrease the availability of quality employment, health services, and educational opportunities. Finally, some countries simply have a safer and cleaner living environment than others, and this is usually reflected in public health statistics and life expectancy.

This family of benefits is a little less specific and a little more general, but depending on where you’re from relative to which passport you hold, the difference can be significant. For example, living in Central America or Africa might not afford as many opportunities for cultural or personal growth as living in Asia, Europe, or North America. These regions have more wealth overall and can afford more expenditure on public amenities such as parks, libraries, and recreational facilities, in addition to government sponsorship of the arts and cultural events. The populace in general has more disposable income to spend on activities that enrich the quality of their lives.

Enhanced educational opportunities

When assessing the tertiary educational opportunities for those from Hong Kong, it is first important to note that any changes in the current situation will not occur until 2047 or later. This is only conditional on the aforementioned Basic Law being altered by both the Chinese government and the government of the SAR. At present time (July 1st, 2008), it is thus far the case that these students have the right to tertiary education in any of the EU countries being discussed, but it is not entirely clear how long this will last. It is reasonable to assume that it will be difficult for the SAR government to maintain this right. It is a right that has already been put under strain by increasing pressure from the PRC to align the education system in Hong Kong with the system in China. A key example of this can be seen with the rapid integration of tertiary entrance exams, which have been used for many years in China, being introduced for students in Hong Kong from 2010. This move will make it easier for students from Hong Kong to study in China and also to obtain a tertiary education in another country via Chinese government-funded scholarships.

Students with EU passports have the right to live and work as a result of their studies in any of the twenty-five countries in the whole European Union as well as European Free Trade Area. This compares well with the United States where visa regulations state that overseas students are in general only allowed to remain in the country for sixty days after the completion of their studies. If you are an individual who seeks a stable future in another country after studying, then an EU passport is certainly an asset. As well as the aforementioned, there are also laws which are constantly being revised that may mean that prospective overseas students from certain countries may be able to work for a small amount of hours in the week to support themselves. Over the long-term, the most important change is that students from these countries will be able to work after they complete their studies with greatly expanded job market access. With the changing pattern of globalization, this will be an important advantage and one that students without an EU passport will not have. High tuition fees in some EU countries may be mitigated with lower fees for EU citizens, but this is an area that will require research for the specific circumstances in the country and the individual in question. EU citizens have an enforceable right to this education in another EU country, but they must bear in mind that the time to exercise this right could soon be running out. If we take a French student studying in Belgium as an example, he has the right to study in Belgium for the duration of his degree program. If he decides to spend the first six months of his degree in Belgium and the latter six months in Bulgaria, he would effectively be denied this right as the Bulgarian government can make transitional restrictions until it has been a member state for more than two years. It is very unclear to what extent this student still has the right to study his degree in Bulgaria, and he will have to consult the Bulgarian education authorities.