New Zealand has world’s most powerful passport

Helen Coffey
·2-min read
New Zealand passport (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
New Zealand passport (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New Zealand’s passport has been named the world’s most powerful in a new ranking – not that it’s of much use to adventurous Kiwis, who are currently advised against all international travel.

The Passport Index ranked the 193 United Nations member countries based on how many nations their passports granted visa-free access to, or allowed visitors to obtain a visa on arrival.

New Zealand secured the top spot with a score of 129 countries, followed by Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea, Japan and Australia, all with a score of 128.

In third place were Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy and Spain, while the UK joined the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland and Canada in fourth place.

The US is notably absent from the top 10, coming in joint 21st place alongside Malaysia with visa-free access to 52 countries and visa-on-arrival for 40 destinations.

In bottom place are Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which have a score of just 31, followed by Syria (34), Somalia (35) and Yemen (36).

The Passport Index highlights that the coronavirus pandemic has had a chaotic impact on travel and overall “World Openness”.

“Despite the high volatility of passport power throughout the past year, Passport Index has updated passport rankings in real time, displaying the true effect of the pandemic on passport rankings,” says the website.

“The data is clear: with temporary travel bans and visa restrictions, many countries which once held a powerful passport, are now ranking amongst the lowest in the world.

“Through another lens, Passport Index shows the clear influence of the pandemic with its World Openness Score (WOS), the benchmark of open travel between countries.

“Since its inception in 2015, the WOS has continued to increase at an average rate of 6 per cent per year, reaching an all-time world openness of 54 per cent back in December 2019.

“Once the pandemic hit — although active visa agreements were not changed, temporary entry bans and border closures resulted in a staggering decrease in the WOS, dropping 65 per cent within weeks.”

Most powerful passports

1. New Zealand

2. Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea, Japan, Australia

3. Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, Spain

4. UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland, Canada

5. Malta, Slovenia, Latvia

6. Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Liechtenstein

7. Slovakia

8. Cyprus, Croatia, Monaco

9. Romania, Bulgaria

10. San Marino, Andorra, Uruguay

Least powerful passports

1. Afghanistan, Iraq

2. Syria

3. Somalia

4. Yemen

5. Iran, Palestinian Territories

6. Pakistan

7. Myanmar, North Korea

8. Ethiopia, Lebanon, Libya, Nepal, Eritrea

9. Bangladesh, South Sudan

10. Sudan

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