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Belgium boasts the most powerful passport
Belgian passport holders can travel freely to 124 countries, 91 of them without a visa, according to the Passport Index 2020, the most out of all countries worldwide.
Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria also enjoy unrestricted foreign journeys. But residents from these countries need a visa to go to 74 of the 124 destinations. This makes Belgium, where visas are only required for 33, top of the list.
It was a different story last year – when Belgium was ranked fourth (able to visit 170 countries). In 2019, the United Arab Emirates were clear leaders at 179. But as coronavirus restrictions – bringing red zones and quarantine measures – shake up all travel arrangements, in 2020 the UAE fell to 13th place in 2020 with residents only allowed to travel to 99 countries, the Index makes clear.
The United States passport has also suffered from Covid-19. In 2019, Americans could travel visa-free to 171 countries. But this year, the number dwindled to 87 – the biggest drop recorded of all countries in the index. Singapore is another big loser in tourism terms – with Singaporeans only permitted to travel to 87 countries this year, compared to 169 in 2019.
In general, Europeans have fared better, allowed to travel unrestricted to some 120 countries. However, this is still a reduction of some 50 countries in the last few lockdown-dominated months.
The least powerful passports remain those from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. Iraqis and Afghans can only visit 30 countries without a visa.
Billed as “the original interactive passport ranking tool,” and invented by Montreal-based financial services company Arton Capital, the Passport Index gives real-time global ranking of the world’s passports. The Index is continually updated as new visa waivers and changes are implemented.