As of 2019, there are 195 countries in the world, all varying widely in terms of size, culture, prosperity and influence. Some allow wide access to foreign countries for their citizens, and some don’t.
Any would-be global citizens might wonder: While exploring the broader world, which passports offer the most opportunities, and which, well, don’t?
To try and quantify this, Nomad Capitalist has released its latest annual ranking of the best and worst passports. The consultancy based its ranking on five criteria: Visa-Free travel, taxation, perception, dual citizenship and personal freedom, with the goal of educating aspiring global citizens “about the true value of the world’s citizenships.”
First, a few highlights: The ranking hasn’t changed much from last year. Once again, EU, which grant holders untrammeled access to much of the Continent, occupied nine out of 10 of the top spots. Once again, the UK, which formerly possessed one of the world’s top passports, has fallen in the ranking, sliding to 27th place.
Once again, the US placed in the bottom end of the top 25th percentile, largely because of its low ranking on the taxation sub-index (US citizens are responsible for paying income taxes to the US Treasury even when that money is earned abroad).
Bringing up the rear were the usual suspects: Iraq ranked dead last, largely due to travel restrictions (Iraqi citizens can only easily visit 27 other countries). The second-lowest spot went to Afghanistan, followed by Eritrea, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Sudan and North Korea.
Once again, the No. 1 spot went to Luxembourg, which ranked high on both taxation (it’s low), dual citizenship, freedom, perception and travel (citizens of Luxembourg can travel to 186 countries using just their passports). It was followed by Switzerland (the only non-EU country in the top ten), Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Finland, Spain and France.
The takeaway: Benefits vary widely depending on which passport you hold – though to truly understand this, it helps to try and travel abroad.