The U.S. Passport ‘Is Now As Powerful As One From Rwanda’

A US passport is now as powerful as one from Rwanda thanks to Covid restrictions.

Each year there are stories about which countries have ‘the most powerful passports’ meaning they grant citizens access to other countries without significant hurdles, like obtaining a visa in advance of travel.

Before the pandemic the two most powerful passports were Japan’s and Singapore’s, but the number of places passports from those countries allow red tape-free travel to has been cut by nearly two-thirds.

In theory, a Singapore passport gets you visa-free, or visa-on-arrival, access to 192 nations, the best score of any country globally after Japan, whose passport ranks No. 1 with hassle-free entry into 193 places.

In practice, taking into account coronavirus limitations, it would permit such entry to only 70 destinations, the data show, equal to having a passport from the Dominican Republic.

In normal times a U.S. passport offers “access [to] 187 destinations around the world.” That’s been cut to “fewer than 60 destinations – a passport power equivalent to that of Uzbekistan. US passport holders have a passport power equivalent to Rwanda.”

If we strip out Covid-19 restrictions then the most valuable passports are:

  1. Japan (193 destinations)

  2. Singapore (192 destinations)

  3. Germany, South Korea (191 destinations)

  4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190 destinations)

  5. Austria, Denmark (189 destinations)

  6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188 destinations)

  7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187 destinations)

  8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186 destinations)

  9. Australia, Canada (185 destinations)

  10. Hungary (184 destinations)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Covid restrictions are not based on nationality – but on residence. So it doesn’t affect passport “power.”

  2. Well, that’s embarrassing. On that note: For all the bluster about getting vaccinated why the hell do fully vaccinated US citizens still need to present proof of a negative COVID test when returning to the states?! Ridiculously frustrating for sure.

  3. Our government has lost their minds. The negative covid test is stupid for everyone.

  4. @Rude Bandit – first of all I agree the US should drop requirement for a negative test for reentry of vaccinated citizens (also should allow EU countries’ citizens to visit w vaccine or negative test).

    However, this isn’t “embarrassing”. Gary has another click bait article. Most of the limitations are temporary based on COVID entry restrictions (also I bet there are over 60 countries if you include negative test and/or quarantine requirements but he conveniently left that off). He is comparing the CURRENT US passport strength against the PREVIOUS one from Rwanda. As noted at the end of his article the US passport previously allowed entry to 187 countries and I suspect in a couple of years (looking at you Australia) we will be back to that level. Nothing to feel embarrassed about or worry – not a reflection of US but of COVID as a rule and other countries’ health situation.

  5. The headlines are powerful but not a full picture. A US passport means no need to get a visa for many countries. Still true. A visa can be a pain to get.

    A lot of countries need visas to enter the US because their overstay rate is high. The Visa Waiver Program requires that a country have a low rate. Some countries retaliate if their citizens require a visa.

  6. Haha, silly nationalists will get triggered by another thought leader nonstory.

  7. Do you know what is the best two-passport combo?
    I could write a computer program to solve this, but I would need the dataset of what countries every passport gives unrestricted access to.
    My guess would be a good European passport and a neutral Asian Muslim passport; e.g., Germany and Indonesia. I would be really interested to know the real answer.

  8. Let us give kudos to conservative morons who have politicized a medical issue thanks to their faith in their Orange God. Looking forward to Darwinian justice in the Red states.

  9. Well gee maybe if we didn’t have people constantly complaining about having to wear a mask or refusing to get vaccinated maybe the covid case counts would go down for the US and we could visit more places. As it is the delta variant now accounts for over half the covid cases in the US and covid cases are rising in half of the states.

  10. My US passport gets me around more countries more easily than a Rwandan passport would for where I travel most frequently in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

  11. Complete click bait as usual. Please stick to facts and correct headlines. @AC is correct.

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