Passports are issued to citizens of sovereign states as a means of identification and access to foreign countries. However, many countries require foreign nationals to acquire additional documentation, e.g. travel, work, and residency visas, prior to their arrival.
Some countries have travel agreements with other nations that allow citizens of those countries to visit without a visa for a specified period of time. For example, British nationals can stay in the U.S.A. without a visa for up to 90 days. And EU citizens have the right to complete freedom of movement between all member states.
The more countries you can enter without a visa, the more powerful your passport is.
The Henley Passport Index (HPI) was created by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm based in London. Using data collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), this index has been keeping track of the world’s most powerful passports since 2006.
Passports are ranked by how many countries passport holders can enter with any of the following:
- Passport only
- Electronic travel authorization (eTA)/online visa waiver
- Visa on arrival
The Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 restrictions notwithstanding, travel freedom levels have almost doubled in the last 16 years. When the Henley Passport Index was first published in 2006, an individual could access an average of 57 countries without needing to apply for a visa beforehand. Now, the global average is 107 countries.
But these greater freedoms are not universal. Overall, European passports are the most powerful in the world, with German citizens able to travel to 190 countries visa-free. African, Middle Eastern and smaller Asian countries face tighter restrictions by comparison; Somali citizens can visit 34 countries without a visa, and Afghans only 26, making that the world’s weakest passport.
Rankings in the Henley Passport Index are not affected by temporary travel restrictions, but the accompanying research shows that restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the widest global mobility gap since 2006. The emergence of the Omicron variant in November 2021 only increased the divide between rich and poor countries, with many states introducing tougher restrictions for those entering their borders from African nations. These measures were likened to “travel apartheid” by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
According to Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners, who came up with the idea for the Passport Index, reopening borders and allowing migration will be key to recovering from the effects of the pandemic. He said:
“Passports and visas are among the most important instruments impacting on social inequality worldwide as they determine opportunities for global mobility. The borders within which we happen to be born, and the documents we are entitled to hold, are no less arbitrary than our skin color. Wealthier states need to encourage positive inward migration in an effort to help redistribute and rebalance human and material resources worldwide.”
What are the strongest passports for 2022?
1. Japan, Singapore (192)
2. Germany, South Korea (190)
3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189)
4. Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Sweden (188)
5. Ireland, Portugal (187)
6. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (186)
7. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185)
8. Poland, Hungary (183)
9. Lithuania, Slovakia (182)
10. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia (181)
What are the weakest passports for 2022?
1. Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan (41)
2. Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya (40)
3. North Korea (39)
4. Nepal and Palestinian territories (37)
5. Somalia (34)
6. Yemen (33)
7. Pakistan (31)
8. Syria (29)
9. Iraq (28)
10. Afghanistan (26)
Visa Requirements for EU Business School
If you have an offer to study with us, it’s essential to find out whether you need a visa to enter, travel, and study in Germany, Spain or Switzerland before arriving on campus. Citizens of the EU/EEA/EFTA only require their passport or identification card, but if you are coming from outside this region, check out the list of documents you will need to provide on our campus websites:
Student visa applications can take up to three months, so it’s important for you to start the process as early as possible to ensure there are no setbacks to you joining us.
If you have any questions, or require any additional information about your visa application, you can always contact the EU Admissions Department through our website, and they’ll be pleased to assist you.