Many people would consider the United States passport as the world’s most valuable, given its position as the world’s greatest economy and a place where most people in the world would aspire to live due to our education and healthcare systems and the many freedoms provided by our Constitution. In reality, however, it is not the most valuable. The most common metric for valuing the world’s strongest passport is the visa free access it gives to the rest of the world’s 217 countries. When applying this, the results are as follows:
1) Germany (access to 177 countries)
2) Sweden (176)
3) a tie between France, Italy, Spain, Finland and the United Kingdom (175)
4) a tie between the United States, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands (174)
To put things in a proper perspective, Afghanistan comes in last with visa free access to only 25 countries (we can all probably guess many of them).
And just because a country doesn’t grant United States passport holders visa free access, it is not as bad as it seems. Many of these countries grant “visas on arrival ” at the airport (Dubai and the other UAE), some grant an “e-visa”, which you can pay for and obtain from your smartphone or laptop at any time before entering the country (Turkey and India).
So which countries typically require an American to go through the hassle of applying for a visa through their Consulate or Embassy? Russia, Vietnam, many African countries, China and Brazil, to name a few. But a couple of these also have silver linings as Brazil will grant a visa waiver from June -September 2016 due to the Olympic Games and China has a “72 hour visa free” policy if you stop in certain cities (Beijing) and are continuing on to certain countries (oddly Hong Kong is one).
So now you know-the United States is not the world’s strongest passport-it is tied for fourth (with three other countries) and is weaker than 7 other country passports.
There are many reasons for countries to require visas: security, revenue, political. In my opinion, many of the the weaker economies and underdeveloped countries should not require visas -after all, tourism is one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate revenue and at times people will choose to travel to a country with no visa requirement as opposed to going through the hassle, cost and time it takes to get one. What are your thoughts?