Let's start this one with some passport factoids which may or may not be 100% true. These were pulled from 30 Interesting Facts About Passports:
- Only around 35% of Americans have passports. This figure is an all-time high.
- There are fridges full of free beer scattered throughout Europe, which will only open with Canadian passports.
- U.S. passports are printed using 60 different materials and have as much as 30 different security features, yet the strongest security feature is the printing as no one can get the font exact.
- There was an Iranian man who lived in an airport for 17 years due to failing to present a passport to British immigration officials.
- The last man to cross over Niagara Falls on a tightrope was required to submit his passport to border agents upon arrival.
Why are we talking about passports? The annual Henley Passport Index has just been released. It ranks all the passports of the world according to their "power" or the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free. It bases the ranking on data provided by International Air Transport Association (IATA) which has the world's largest and most comprehensive database of travel information.
Goldman Sachs analysts say that the global economy is "as good as it gets" and that global growth has beaten and will continue to beat expectations.
"For the first time since 2010, the world economy is outperforming most predictions, and we expect this strength to continue. Our global GDP forecast for 2018 is 4.0%, up from 3.7% in 2017 and meaningfully above consensus. The strength in global growth is broad-based across most advanced and emerging economies."
Since the strength in global growth is broad-based across countries, employees will be able to quickly take advantage of business opportunities if they can enter countries and get business done. So which countries have the most powerful passports?
Well for the fifth year in a row, Germany has come out on top. German citizens can now visit 177 countries, up one from 2017, according to the report. The least powerful passport ranked was Afghanistan's with visa-free access to only 24 countries. The biggest climbers were:
- Georgia which now ranks 53rd and moved up 15 spots and now provides visa-free access to 99 countries. Georgia significantly improved its position in the ranking due to the visa-free access to the Schengen countries.
- Ukraine which now ranks 44th having moved up 14 spots and now offers visa-free access to 114 countries.
- China which now ranks 75th moving up 10 spots to provide visa-free access to 60 countries.
Meanwhile, 14 countries - Cyprus, Trinidad and Tobago, Sweden, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Taiwan, Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal, Yemen, Antigua and Barbuda, North Korea and Syria - fared equally poor in terms of downward movement on the index, all losing one place year-on-year.
To download the latest global insights and infographic go here, but start a drum-roll and check out the:
top five most powerful passports scores:
- Germany - visa free-access to 177 countries
- Singapore - visa free-access to 176 countries
- Eight Countries tied for third with access to 175 countries visa-free: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom
- Six Countries tied for fourth with access to 174 countries visa-free: Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland
- Four countries tied for fifth with access to 173 countries visa-free: Ireland, Portugal, South Korea and United States
The Henley Passport Index is widely acknowledged as the original and most authoritative passport index, with historical data spanning 13 years. The global ranking is the only one of its kind that is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. The index is enhanced by extensive in-house research.