The Sovereign Man
Passport Ranking 2018

The Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking is the most accurate way to measure the quality of any passport as a travel document today.

That’s because we do not rely exclusively on the number of countries a passport has access to visa-free, but also measure the importance of each destination country for travelers and reflect it in our ranking.

It also allows us to apply an accurate grade (from A+ to F) to each country’s travel document.

If you click on the left tab below, you’ll see our complete, global passport rankings. The right tab “Methodology,” explains how we arrived at those rankings.

Passport Rankings
Methodology

The problem with traditional passport rankings

Traditionally, law firms specializing in international migration, attorneys, and analysts assessed a passport’s travel capabilities by merely counting the passport’s number of visa-free (and visa-on-arrival) countries it allows.

But the traditional method is flawed – it does not account for the “quality” of the accessible countries.

For example, let’s imagine that passport A gives visa-free access to just two countries in the world – France and China. And passport B also provides access to only two countries – Tuvalu and Comoros.

If you assess the quality of both passports the traditional way – by counting the number of countries – then both passports equally provide visa-free access to two nations. But clearly, the passport holder is getting more value in their ability to visit France and China.

How Sovereign Man ranks passports

Let’s be honest. Some countries are just much more attractive to visit than the others. I would rather have visa-free access to France or China than Comoros or Tuvalu.

So, we decided to measure how attractive each country is for travelers. After combing through dozens of different ways to assess a country’s attractiveness, we used the following two criteria:

Criteria #1 – International arrivals

The number of international arrivals is the first criteria we use to measure the attractiveness of a country as a travel destination.

For example, more than 84 million people visited France in 2016 (more than any other country). And only 2,000 international visits were registered in Tuvalu.

To us it means that 84 million people “voted” in favor of France, and only 2,000 people voted for Tuvalu.

However, there are a couple problems with using just international arrivals:

First, special events such as the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup create one-time, artificially high arrival numbers.

And second, if a country has a stringent visa policy and requires visitors from most countries to obtain visas, many potential travelers get discouraged. This may negatively affect a country’s arrival numbers.

(For example, many more Brazilians would choose to travel to the United States if they didn’t have to go through the troubles of a visa application.)

Criteria #2 – Country’s GDP

To compensate for these shortcomings, we added the size of a country’s economy (GDP) to the equation – a much more stable number compared to international arrivals.

By adding the GDP to the country’s attractiveness calculation, we consider the interests of both business travelers and tourists.

Measuring a country’s attractiveness

In the end, each country’s attractiveness score in our Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking consists of these two components:

Country’s attractiveness score

equals.png

International arrivals index
(50% weight)

plus.png

GDP index
(50% weight)

Using the same formula above, we calculated the attractiveness of each country on the planet relative to each other.

And the clear leader of the 2018 attractiveness ranking became…  the United States of America with a score of 20.11.

In other words, the US is about 20 times more “desirable” for travelers than the world’s “average” country (which happens to be Argentina this year, with a score of 1.01).

China comes in second with a score of 13.84. France took third place with a score of 12.01.

And what about the world’s least attractive countries?

In last place is Tuvalu, with a score of 0.00027. This micronation of around 11,000 people enjoyed just 2,000 international visits in 2016 and has a GDP of $38 million – about 1,000 times smaller than the economy of Toledo, Ohio.

Comoros – the poor African island nation north of Madagascar – is also near the bottom of the ranking with a score of 0.0034.

Attractiveness scores of all countries

And finally, here is the backbone of The Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking – the list of all 198 countries and territories with their respective attractiveness scores.

(On the interactive webpage you will be able to see attractiveness scores of all countries after clicking on any passport – scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window.)

For better visual presentation, we separated all countries by regions. The regions with higher attractiveness scores are listed first.

Europe: Combined attractiveness score – 82.4

(Any region’s combined attractiveness score consists of the sum of attractiveness scores of all countries comprising it.)

Europe (Schengen Area*) 63.7
France 12.01 Denmark 1.51
Spain 10.20 Belgium 1.32
Italy 7.64 Norway 0.88
Germany 6.37 Slovakia 0.81
Austria 3.58 Liechtenstein 0.73
Greece 3.25 Finland 0.48
Poland 2.37 Slovenia 0.41
Netherlands 2.33 Estonia 0.39
Hungary 1.88 Lithuania 0.29
Sweden 1.61 Latvia 0.27
Czech Republic 1.58 Malta 0.25
Portugal 1.57 Iceland 0.23
Switzerland 1.55 Luxembourg 0.17
Europe (Outside of Schengen) 18.7
United Kingdom 5.83 Montenegro 0.21
Russia 4.08 Serbia 0.19
Croatia 1.77 Armenia 0.16
Ukraine 1.75 Belarus 0.15
Ireland 1.34 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.11
Bulgaria 0.92 Macedonia 0.07
Albania 0.52 Kosovo 0.05
Cyprus 0.41 Monaco 0.05
Romania 0.39 Moldova 0.02
Andorra 0.36 San Marino 0.01
Georgia 0.35

*Schengen is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their borders.

Asia: Combined attractiveness score – 58.04

Asia 58.04
China 13.84 Israel 0.54
Japan 5.83 Laos 0.42
Turkey 5.45 Kyrgyzstan 0.39
Thailand 4.33 Sri Lanka 0.30
Malaysia 3.55 Azerbaijan 0.28
Hong Kong 3.49 Pakistan 0.26
India 3.12 Maldives 0.16
South Korea 2.97 Uzbekistan 0.16
Macau 2.00 Bangladesh 0.11
Singapore 1.80 Nepal 0.11
Indonesia 1.78 Turkmenistan 0.08
Taiwan 1.64 North Korea 0.07
Vietnam 1.36 Afghanistan 0.06
Philippines 0.92 Mongolia 0.06
Iran 0.86 Tajikistan 0.06
Kazakhstan 0.70 Brunei 0.04
Cambodia 0.64 Bhutan 0.03
Myanmar 0.63

The Americas: Combined attractiveness score – 38.34

North and South America 38.34
United States 20.11 El Salvador 0.19
Mexico 5.01 Bahamas 0.19
Canada 3.38 Paraguay 0.17
Brazil 1.85 Bolivia 0.13
Argentina 1.01 Honduras 0.13
Chile 0.86 Barbados 0.08
Dominican Republic 0.79 Haiti 0.07
Colombia 0.63 Trinidad and Tobago 0.07
Peru 0.59 Belize 0.05
Cuba 0.55 St. Lucia 0.04
Uruguay 0.41 Suriname 0.04
Costa Rica 0.40 Antigua and Barbuda 0.03
Jamaica 0.28 Guyana 0.03
Panama 0.28 Grenada 0.02
Venezuela 0.27 St. Kitts and Nevis 0.015
Ecuador 0.24 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 0.010
Guatemala 0.23 Dominica 0.010
Nicaragua 0.20

Middle East and North Africa: Combined attractiveness score – 11.3

Middle East and North Africa 11.3
Saudi Arabia 2.63 Bahrain 0.17
United Arab Emirates 2.10 Syria 0.17
Morocco 1.36 Libya 0.15
Egypt 1.31 Sudan 0.14
Tunisia 0.75 Kuwait 0.12
Jordan 0.51 Yemen 0.07
Qatar 0.49 Palestine 0.06
Algeria 0.34 Mauritania 0.04
Iraq 0.32 Somalia 0.013
Oman 0.28 Djibouti 0.007
Lebanon 0.24 Comoros Islands 0.003

Sub-Saharan Africa: Combined attractiveness score – 5.40

Sub-Saharan Africa5.40
South Africa1.46Madagascar0.04
Nigeria0.39Benin0.04
Zimbabwe0.28Seychelles0.04
Mozambique0.22Togo0.04
Botswana0.20Republic of Congo0.04
Ivory Coast0.20Equatorial Guinea0.03
Namibia0.18Gabon0.03
Uganda0.18Democratic Republic of Congo0.03
Kenya0.17Burkina Faso0.03
Mauritius0.17Mali0.03
Tanzania0.17Chad0.02
Angola0.16Niger0.02
Ethiopia0.14Eritrea0.02
Zambia0.14South Sudan0.02
Senegal0.14Burundi0.02
Ghana0.13Gambia0.02
Rwanda0.13Central African Republic0.02
Swaziland0.12Sierra Leone0.010
Malawi0.10Guinea0.008
Cameroon0.09Liberia0.007
Cape Verde Islands0.08Guinea-Bissau0.006
Lesotho0.05Sao Tome and Principe0.001

Oceania: Combined attractiveness score – 2.52

Oceania 2.52
Australia 1.78 Tonga 0.0079
New Zealand 0.54 Solomon Islands 0.0034
Fiji 0.10 Micronesia 0.0032
Papua New Guinea 0.03 Marshall Islands 0.0014
Palau Islands 0.02 Nauru 0.0007
Samoa 0.02 Kiribati 0.0007
Vanuatu 0.012 Tuvalu 0.0003
Timor-Leste 0.012

The attractiveness score of the entire world is 198 – the same as the number of passports we evaluated.

World (198.0) = Europe (82.4) + Asia (58.04) + The Americas (38.34) + Middle East and North Africa (11.3) + Sub-Saharan Africa (5.40) + Oceania (2.52)

And the combined attractiveness score of all Anglosphere countries is 32.4.

Anglosphere countries 32.4
United States 20.1
United Kingdom 5.83
Canada 3.38
Australia 1.78
Ireland 1.34

Passport’s Travel Freedom Score

So, with attractiveness scores of all the countries on the planet set, we then could measure any passport’s quality as a travel document.

Back to our hypothetical example:

According to our calculations, passport A has a Travel Freedom score of 25.85 (the number we get after adding the attractiveness scores of China and France).

And passport B has a Travel freedom score of 0.00367 (after adding the attractiveness scores of Comoros and Tuvalu).

We see that passport A as a travel document is 6,812 times (25.85 / 0.00367) more valuable than passport B.

This is a much better way to measure a passport’s quality as a travel document than simply counting its number of visa-free country access.

Still, we felt like something was missing in our formula.

Of course, we still need to account for the passport’s country itself…

Say you are an American citizen.

Naturally, you have full access to your own country – all the way from Anchorage to Key West and even Guam and Puerto Rico.

And since you have access to your own country, we should include the United States’ attractiveness score of 20.11 in the US passport’s final Travel Freedom score as well.

To finish with the example:

So, if passport A belongs to the United States, then the passport’s Travel Freedom score is not 25.85, but rather 45.96 (25.85 + 20.11) after we add in the USA’s own attractiveness score.

The same applies to all other passports.

We added China’s attractiveness score of 13.84 to the Chinese passport’s Travel Freedom score, 12.01 to the French passport’s Travel Freedom Index, and so on.

Passport’s score formula

A passport’s score is the sum of the attractiveness scores of all countries it grants access to and is dependent on its visa regime:

  • Visa-free and visa on arrival access - 100% of the destination country's attractiveness score is added.
  • E-visa - 50% of destination country's attractiveness score is added (more on that below.)
  • Home country - 100% of the passport's own attractiveness score is added (i.e. Japan's attractiveness score is added to Japan's passport score).

E-visas - a new development quickly spreading around the world

Australia pioneered e-visas (aka electronic visas) back in 2012.

It was almost revolutionary – the visa application process could be done entirely online. No more trips to the consulates, no more documents lost in the mail. All you needed is an internet connection and scans of your passport and supporting documents.

Since then, e-visas really caught fire around the world. As of 2018, we counted 42 countries offering e-visas to potential visitors. (Application conditions vary widely among the countries.)

Here is the list of countries offering e-visas in 2018 (countries with higher attractiveness scores are on top):

The Americas

  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis

Europe

  • Ukraine
  • Georgia
  • Armenia
  • Moldova

Oceania

  • Australia

Asia

  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • India
  • Turkey
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar
  • Azerbaijan

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Zimbabwe
  • Ivory Coast
  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Angola
  • Ethiopia
  • Zambia
  • Rwanda
  • Gabon
  • Sao Tome and Principe

Middle East and North Africa

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Egypt
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait

For example, India has always been a very tough country to access without a visa. A grand total of four countries enjoy visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) access with India today – Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Japan.

However, citizens of 156 more countries can obtain an electronic visa through this government-run website.

Considering all the pros and cons of e-visas, we decided to award 50% of the attractiveness score to each passport that allows them.

For example, any holder of a Canadian passport can apply for an Indian e-visa. India’s attractiveness score is 3.12, but a Canadian passport will get only half of this score (1.56). The full 3.12 will be attributed only to the four countries with a visa-free regime with India – Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Japan.

Out of 40+ countries offering e-visas, the only e-visa that we disqualified this year is Australia’s. The Australian e-visa application process is tedious, and approval takes at least two weeks… but usually much longer.

While an e-visa is still better than traveling to an Australian consulate for an interview, we consider the process to be too difficult to give it any points.

As a result, in 2018, an Australian e-visa equates to “visa required”.

A few important facts to review

  • We ranked the passports of 198 countries and territories – 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, and Palestine.
  • The top Travel Freedom score any passport can get is 198. To achieve this score, a passport must provide visa-free (or visa on arrival) access to every other country in the world.
  • Dependent territories such as Puerto Rico (USA) or British Virgin Islands (UK) were not considered separately.
  • The Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking is based on publicly available data provided by the United Nations, government agencies and other public sources.

Important!

The only goal behind The Sovereign Man Global Passport Ranking is to assess each passport’s quality as a travel document.

We did not attempt to measure the merits of being a citizen in any country. This means we didn’t account for any country’s political stability, wealth of its citizens, freedom of press and speech, ease of doing business, or any other factors.

And we didn’t account for the ability to move to another country with the passport. For example, Portugal’s passport didn’t get any additional points because Portuguese citizens can freely move to any other European Union country such as France or Germany.

The goal of this project was to assess each passport’s quality as a travel document only.

© 2018 Blacksmith Global Ltd. – All rights reserved

Share59
Tweet
Reddit43
Stumble
WhatsApp
102 Shares
Share59
Tweet
Reddit43
Stumble
WhatsApp
102 Shares