Most powerful passports in the world for visa-free travel – is the UK passport valuable?

For some nations, passports are so much more than a simple travel document. Thanks to international relations and global esteem, some citizens can save money and travel without the need for a visa simply because of the passport they hold.

According to experts, this is what makes these passports some of “the most valuable in the world.”

In light of the coronavirus, the status of some nations is even more poignant than ever, with countries closing down their borders to certain travellers, and imposing strict regulations on others.

“For the first time, UK travellers are facing the prospect of major travel restrictions, including quarantine, whilst planning and preparing for their trips abroad,” said Gary Peeling, CEO at commercial print company: Where The Trade Buys.

“The uncertainty surrounding travelling overseas looks set to continue for Brits, with changes to restrictions being announced often, without notice.”

Yet, even with the ongoing pandemic, some passports still continue to top the charts for the most opportunities offered, meanwhile, others aren’t afforded the same luxuries.

“For some nationalities, however, money or the coronavirus pandemic aren’t the only factors which restrict them from hopping on a flight – their passport does,” continued Mr Peeling.

“It’s fairly simplistic – some passports afford their holders more freedom and unrestricted international access than others.”

So which passports hold the highest powers, and does the UK rank at all?

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According to Henley and Partners’ passport index, it is Japan’s passport that holds the top spot.

“Japan has claimed the top spot, fighting off tough opposition from the likes of Singapore and South Korea,” explained Mr Peeling.

“Citizens of the land of the rising sun are able to cross the border into 190 different countries, one more than their two aforementioned Asian counterparts.”

The most notable countries that Japan can travel to visa-free, which the UK currently can not, include Iran, Mongolia and China.

Germany are two of Europe’s most notable nations when it comes to the passport index.

The countries sit in joint third, just below Singapore and with South Korea.

On the alternative passport index powered by Arton, Germany ranks slightly higher than France, offering the visa on arrival service in both Pakistan and Mongolia.

France now sits in sixth place.

Mr Peeling suggested, for Germany at least, the reason they are offered so many opportunities is due to the nation’s emphasis on “building relationships with foreign nations.”

He added: “In terms of their comparison to the UK, both countries can apply for a visa on arrival in Iran.”

The UK sits in joint eighth position with the US, who both once took the crown as the most valuable passports in the world.

The two countries allow visa-free access to 184 nations, seven behind that of Japan.

Henley Chairman, Christian Kalin, notes how, “an open-door policy has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as creating significant employment opportunities.”

Alas, following the decision of Brexit, the UK passport has lost some of its worth.

“The UK’s European Union membership has provided citizens with the ability to move freely throughout member states since the agreement’s infancy, however with the current situation, circumstances could so easily change,” explained Mr Peeling.

Though the UK once had visa-free access to 186 countries, since the introduction of e-visas in Turkey, this number has decreased.

Despite this, Mr Peeling says there is still positivity left for UK citizens.

He pointed out: “Since the passport index began in 2006, the UK has dramatically increased in access numbers, from 126.”

However, there is also some disagreement about the value of other passports.

The United Arab Emirates, for example, is ranked as the most powerful passport by Arton, but only clocks in at 18 on the Henley scale.

Meanwhile, when looking at visa-free travel, there are some nations who are not given the same opportunities.

“Both Iraqi and Afghani nationals prop up the bottom of the index, with their passports only allowing access to 28 and 26 countries respectively,” said Mr Peeling.

He concluded: “It comes a no surprise that some of the world’s richest countries rank the highest in terms of their passport’s worth, while similarly the countries torn apart by war at the lower end of the charts.”

Henley 2020 Passport Index Top 10

1 . Japan

2. Singapore

3. Germany and South Korea

4. Finland and Italy

5. Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain

6. France and Spain

7. Austria, ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland

8. Belgium, Greece, Norway, UK and the US

9. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Malta and New Zealand

10.Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia

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