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Top 10 Best and Worst Passports in the World for Travel in 2016

March 3, 2016

A saying on life is that how you spend your days on the planet is decided, to a major extent, by the place where you were born. It just so happens that some passports are always accorded more importance than others. Henley & Partners, a consulting firm based in London, has recently tried to find out more about the stronger passports and the weaker ones. The basis of quantification in this case is the amount of travel sans visa that the passports concerned can make available to the holders. They have found that for 2016, Germany is the strongest passport. Next in line are several European nations, Japan, the US, and Canada. Incidentally, Afghanistan happens to be the weakest passport on the basis of this criterion.

The critical state of Afghan passport and Afghanistan in general

Henley & Partners have been coming out with this list for the past 11 years and every year from 2010 onward, Afghan passports have appeared at the absolute bottom. Only the Palestinian territories and South Sudan have ranked below it. Incidentally, South Sudan is among the newest sovereign states of the world and Palestine only enjoys diplomatic recognition from a few countries in the West. The security situation in Afghanistan became worse in the summer of 2015 and a lot of people cued outside the passport office in Kabul – the only one of its kind in the country – in order to leave the country as refugees.

Most of these people try to head off to Europe via Turkey. This route has earned some notoriety and is presently referred to as the Black Route. Afghans are only preceded by Syrians in the number of people who regularly seek refuge in European countries. However, as opposed to Iraqis and Syrians, more often than not Afghans are turned out of the country and they have to come back home.

Passports of mostly-unrecognized territories

As bad as the situation of Afghanistan may be, they can at least travel to any country that they want, with or without a visa. In most cases, such as Somaliland – a breakaway territory – there is no universal diplomatic recognition as such and this is why its passport-holders are unable to visit any and every country that they like.

Passport of North Korea

Also known as Hermit Kingdom, North Korea is a classic example where a government can cause passport-related problems. As per the research of Henley & Partners a North Korean passport carries more weight than that of Afghanistan. There are countries like Singapore, Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia where North Korean citizens do not need a visa as such. However, they do need an exit visa to get out of the country. However, they are always a little difficult to procure as one would imagine given all the reports one gets to hear about the Asian nation in various media channels.

Best passports in the world for travel in 2016

The following table reveals the countries that sit atop the aforementioned list as well as the number of countries where its passport-holders can enjoy visa free travel:

Name of country Number of countries which one can visit without visa
Germany 177
Sweden 176
Finland, Spain, France, the UK, and Italy 175
Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the US 174
Australia, Singapore, and Japan 173
Canada, Portugal, Ireland, South Korea, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway 172
New Zealand and Greece 171
Australia 169
Malta 168
Czech Republic, Iceland, and Hungary 167
Slovakia 165
Liechtenstein, Slovenia, and Malaysia 164
Latvia 163
Lithuania and Estonia 162
Poland 161
Monaco 160
Cyprus 159
San Marino 156
Chile 155
Hong Kong 154

Worst passports in the world for travel in 2016

The following table reveals the countries that sit at the lower end of the aforementioned list as well as the number of countries where its passport-holders can travel without visas:

Name of country Number of countries which one can visit without visa
Afghanistan 25
Pakistan 29
Iraq 30
Somalia 31
Syria 32
Libya 36
Eritrea, Nepal, Ethiopia, Palestinian Territory, Iran, and Sudan 37
Kosovo, Yemen, and South Sudan 38
Bangladesh, Lebanon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sri Lanka 39
Burundi, Myanmar, and North Korea 42
Liberia 43

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I am from Kolkata. Like any other Bengali I love my fish, eggs and bhaat and sweets but I also feel proud to be a part of the biggest melting pot of the world - India. It is true that I need to go a long way before I finally call it a day but I have come some way and am sure will travel further. Cheers :)