World's most powerful passports: how does SA compare?

27 October 2017 - 12:32 By AFP Relaxnews
The passport index ranks the most powerful passports in the world.
The passport index ranks the most powerful passports in the world.
Image: iStock

Singaporeans now hold the most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free access to 159 countries - more than any other nation in 2017, according to a new Passport Index

"For the first time ever, an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world," said Philippe May, managing director of Arton Capital's Singapore office which developed the index.  

After Singapore comes Germany, with visa-free mobility to 158 countries, followed by Sweden and South Korea, which tie for third place with access to 157 countries. 

Overall, the index is dominated by European countries.  

Meanwhile, authors note the declining power of the US passport, which lost visa-free entry to countries like Turkey and the Central African Republic. 

The US is ranked 6th on the list, alongside Canada, Malaysia, and Ireland. 

South Africa comes in at number 47, with visa-free access to 93 countries.

On the other end of the scale, Afghanistan is ranked 93rd, which makes it the world's least powerful passport with visa-free mobility to only 22 countries.

For the index, authors looked at the passports of 193 UN member countries and six territories, including Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. 

For the purposes of the report, visa-free travel also includes visas issued on arrival. 

Another passport ranking by Henley & Partners published earlier this year named Germany the most powerful world pass. 


  1.  Singapore: visa-free access to 159 countries
  2. Germany: visa-free access to 158 countries
  3. Sweden, South Korea: visa-free access to 157 countries
  4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom: visa-free access to 156 countries
  5. Luxemburg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Portugal: visa-free access to 155 countries
  6. Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, United States of America: visa-free access to 154 countries
  7. Australia, Greece, New Zealand: visa-free access to 153 countries
  8. Malta, Czech Republic, Iceland: visa-free access to 152 countries
  9. Hungary: visa-free access to 150 countries
  10. Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia: visa-free access to 149 countries

Additional reporting by staff reporter.