Americans No Longer Have the World's Best Passport
If you’re American, your nationality will open many doors—but not all of them, according to the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index. The annual list, released by London-based consulting firm Henley and Partners and the International Air Transport Association, ranks the countries that have the most travel freedom, based on how many nations its citizens can visit without a visa or by receiving one after they land. This year, CNN reports, America is in fourth place, down from its first-place ranking in both 2014 and 2015. And the new leader of the pack? Germany.
German passport holders can enter 177 out of 218 countries and territories without first receiving a visa. Coming in second is Sweden’s passport, which allows tourists entrance to 176 countries. And tying for third with 175 are Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. U.S. travelers can only enter 174 countries, the same number as voyagers from Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
Curious how these rankings were formed? According to CNN, who spoke with a representative from Henley and Partners, visa requirements are affected by “diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, or risks of violation of visa terms.”
Despite the U.S. passport’s slip to fourth place, USA Today reports that no country on its top 10 List (which confusingly includes 28 countries) dropped more than three places. This suggests “that overall, visa-free access is improving around the world,” Henley & Partners said in a statement.
Still, it's improving at a slower pace for some countries. Afghanistan remains the country with the "worst passport," allowing visa-free travel in only 25 countries. Meanwhile, Pakistan came in at 29, Iraq at 30, Somalia at 31, and Syria at 32. Want to see how your passport stacks up? Check out the full list online.