Sometimes getting a visa can be a real hassle. First, there’s the application form and associated fee, which may cost less than $50 or more than $100. Then, there’s the time commitment. You have to wait in line to drop off your passport and, if you’re lucky, you can pick it up the same day. Depending on the country issuing the visa, your passport may be tied up for days or weeks. And, of course, there’s always the potential for rejection.
That’s a big reason why visa-free travel is optimal, especially for frequent international travelers. While U.S. citizens don’t often encounter the need to apply for a visa, the U.S. passport actually isn’t the most powerful when it comes to visa-free entry. Now, according to the Passport Index, that distinction goes solely to Singapore, while the United States is tied with Canada, Ireland and Malaysia for 6th place.
The Passport Index is a free online interactive tool that allows you to explore visa requirements and statistics for 199 countries (193 United Nations member countries and six territories). It’s maintained by Arton Capital, a global advisory firm for international residence and citizenship, and updated as soon as visa changes occur.
Paraguay recently removed requirements for Singaporean citizens, which is how the Asian island city-state increased its visa-free score (VFS) to 159 and moved into the number-one spot. Singapore used to share that position with Germany, which is now ranked second with a VFS of 158.
The VFS is calculated by adding two numbers together: the number of countries that citizens can visit without applying for a visa and the countries where passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival (VOA). For Singapore, for example, its VFS of 159 is a result of 124 visa-free countries and 35 that require VOA.
The United States isn’t far behind, with a VFS of 154 in 6th place. While that gap doesn’t seem very wide, there are six countries tied for 5th place (VFS of 155), eight countries tied for 4th place (VFS of 156), two countries tied for 3rd place (VFS of 157), and Germany holding 2nd place by itself. Here are the top-10 rankings for the Passport Index as of October 31, 2017, with the right-most column indicating the number of countries that can be visited visa-free or by obtaining a VOA:
|Rank||Passport||# of Countries Accessible|
|3||Sweden, South Korea||157|
|4||Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom||156|
|5||Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Portugal||155|
|6||Malaysia, Ireland, United States of America, Canada||154|
|7||Greece, New Zealand, Australia||153|
|8||Malta, Czechia, Iceland||152|
|10||Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia||150|
The Passport Index site also includes a handy tool that lets you compare passports side-by-side – great for dual citizens – or easily see which countries you will need a visa to enter. For example, by clicking on United States and scrolling to your next international destination, you can quickly find out whether you need a visa, an eVisa, an eTA (Electronic Travel Authority) or if you can obtain a visa on arrival.
This helpful site is continuously updated as visa requirement changes occur, so add it to your bookmarks for easy reference the next time you’re planning an international trip.
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