The most powerful passports in the world

 ·21 Apr 2015

Very little can compare to the exhilaration of being issued your first passport as it very often means a huge adventure is on the horizon.

But as with most things in life, not all passports are created equal.

European-based rail, air, bus and car search and booking engine GoEuro have compiled an infographic based on the ultimate passport rankings across the globe.

South Africa, included in the top 50 countries in the world, slipped back to its 2013 position of 42nd spot on the list after being ranked 41st most powerful in 2014.

SA citizens have access to no fewer than 97 of the world’s 194 countries.

Key to the ranking is, of course, the visa free access – but the ability of a citizen to obtain a passport, and data such as pricing, length of validity and the amount of hours a citizen must work to obtain their passport, were all weighted and scored in producing the list.

These factors have caused a shuffle in the ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, with Sweden overtaking the 2014 list leader Finland, since its citizens are only required to work one hour at minimum wage in comparison to Finnish who have to work an estimated 5 hours.

South Africans need to work an estimated 32 hours at minimum wage in order to afford the R400 required by the department of home affairs.

GoEuro’s analyses shows the five nationalities’ with the most powerful passports are Sweden, Finland, Germany, UK, and USA with 174 visa-free countries – however the countries each of these are allowed access to are not identical.

For example: Most but not all countries need a visa for Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Burundi, Chad, China, Iraq, Mozambique, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen.

Additionally, Germans are eligible for a Visa On Arrival for India, while this is not yet available to Swedish or British citizens.

The top 10 most powerful passports in the world are:

# Country Visa-free countries Visa cost Hours worked to afford
1 Sweden 174 $43 1 hour
2 Finland 174 $56 5 hours
3 Germany 174 $69 7 hours
4 UK 174 $110 11 hours
5 USA 174 $135 19 hours
6 Denmark 173 $133 15 hours
7 Canada 173 $133 15 hours
8 Spain 172 $30 5 hours
9 Belgium 172 $76 8 hours
10 Netherlands 172 $78 8 hours

The full list of countries the so-called SA Green Mamba passport has visa-free access:


Most SADC countries are accessible to us without a visa, as long as we’re going there for vacation. Any form of work – even volunteering – requires some form of a visa, so make 100% sure what the rules are beforehand.

Here is the full list of African countries we can enter without visas:

Benin, Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

And then a few where SA citizens get a visa on arrival:

Cape Verde, Comoros, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Tongo, Tunisia and Uganda

South and Central America

The good news is that pretty much the entire South and central America is accessible to South Africans on nothing but a passport, with the exception of, among others, Suriname, French Guiana, Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

Here is a full list of the South and Central American countries we can enter on our passport:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela.

North America

Sorry, folks, it’s a no go. Visas are a must. Check out what you need for the US Visa application process.


Well, it’s mostly closed to us, but there are a few surprising destinations we can enter sans visa.

Ireland, Kosovo and, this just in, since 1 March South Africans no longer require visas to get into France’s Reunion Island.


Georgia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Visa on arrival: Armenia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Timor-Leste

Middle East

Israel and Jordan

Visa on arrival: Oman and Turkey


Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated states of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Source Traveller24

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