Passport to Travel

Dr. Seuss’ famous book Oh the Places You’ll Go is a perennial favorite gift for new grads but it could just as easily have been the title of a fascinating report which ranks how easy it is to travel abroad based upon different country’s passports.

Being able to travel with minimal pre-clearance or an exhaustive visa application process is a gift that not too many nationalities enjoy, so it’s good to see where your country ranks and how many places you can visit without hassle. This tells you how coveted your passport really is around the world. For those of us who get annoyed at having to wait for a visa upon arrival it is also a great reminder of just how lucky we are.

There are 219 destinations according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and since your country is one of those, there are 218 potential destinations on planet earth. The Henley & Partners Visa Restriction List rates a country’s ease of travel by giving a point for every destination that allows a passport holder from that country easy access. For the list this means no visa, an easy visa on arrival or a similarly quick e-visa. If a destination requires a passport holder to go through a more difficult or lengthy visa process no point is awarded.

The first conclusion one must gather is that living in the West; the US, Canada, EU and other countries like Australia and New Zealand, is a true asset when it comes to ease of mobility. Next, wealthy places like Singapore and Hong Kong also enjoy a lot of freedom of movement, whereas citizens from places in the midst of a war or insurgency like Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan unsurprisingly have a much harder time traveling abroad.

The top-ranked countries is Germany with a score of 176, which means passport holders from that country can visit 176 destinations with very little effort. The US is tied for number 3 with 174 points alongside a number of countries including Singapore, the top ranked Asian nation. Japan is in the 5th position alongside Ireland and New Zealand, while South Korea (the only other Asian country to crack the Top 10) is tied for number 7 with Australia at 170 points.

Other notable scores include China in 85th place with a score of just 51. This will change as the Chinese are now the world’s largest group of travelers and countries are scrambling to change visa rules to encourage more. North Korea beats Sri Lanka with a score of 40-38 and Russia just nudges out Turkey at 106 to 105, though this was before the US just slapped new visa restrictions on Turkish citizens.

The report covers the globe from A-Z, in fact Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe each scored 58 points which kind of helps you see how big and how diverse our planet really is. For those of us with a passport that offers less travel restrictions this is a wake up call. Respect the opportunity to see the world that has been granted to you by citizenship and get out there and make our world just a little smaller.