The title of the world’s most powerful passport changes hands week to week. One moment Germany reigns supreme, then suddenly Japan edges through to clinch the top spot.
The ranking is based on the number of countries a passport holder can enter without a visa or for which they can obtain a visa on arrival. While the focus is usually on the passports at the top of the rankings, there is also interesting movement among the middle and bottom.
China ranked 75th in the 2008 Henley Passport Index, the annual ranking by citizenship planning firm Henley and Partners. China now has climbed 44 places to rank 118th. And while China’s rise is impressive, it’s small European countries that have made the biggest strides.
Even the idea of the EU is a good thing
In 2008, Albania ranked 155th and has jumped 67 places in just 10 years. The jump is down to the fact that Albania is an official candidate to join the EU. Albania applied to join the bloc in 2008 and was granted visa-free access to the Schengen area in 2010.
While negotiations are also ongoing on when Bosnia and Herzegovina will become an EU member, the candidacy alone has also helped the country’s ranking. In 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked 143rd on the index, but jumped to 86th after it was given visa-free access to the Schengen area in 2010.
A rising GDP is good
There’s a slight relationship between GDP growth and the passports that have gotten more or less powerful. While Yemen went further down the ranking following the outbreak of a devastating civil war and a shrinking of its GDP, China’s growth in GDP was correlated with a higher ranking in the index.
(Source: quartzmedia, written by Aamna Mohdin, Dan Kopf)