FOR years European countries had the most powerful passports in the world. But not anymore.
Recent diplomatic decisions around the world have prompted a reshuffle of the world’s most powerful passports on the Passport Index, which ranks countries according to the travel freedom enjoyed by citizens.
Germany has long dominated the world ranking, with German passport-holders previously enjoying the longest list of countries they would visit without a visa.
But Germany has now been upset by South Korea, which is now considered the most powerful passport in the world along with Singapore, according to the Passport Index.
Global financial advisory firm Arton Capital, which oversees the rankings, said South Korea and Singapore’s surge in the list was influenced by Uzbekistan’s recent decision to grant both countries visa-free access.
Recent “adjustments to visa policies in Somalia” were also behind the decision, the firm said.
“We are currently seeing not one but two Asian countries with the most powerful passports in the world,” Arton’s president Armand Arton said.
“This is a testament to the increased global respect and trust Asian countries are commanding.”
The South Korean and Singapore passports now let travellers visit 162 nations visa-free, putting both countries on the top of the global list with a passport power rank of 1.
The German passport, which lets travellers visit 161 countries visa-free, is now tied with Japan in second place.
European countries fill the next few positions on the ranking, including the United Kingdom, with Brits able to travel without a visa to 159 nations.
Australia has a passport power rank of 7, with Australians able to travel to 156 countries visa-free, putting us on the same level as Malta and the Czech Republic.
New Zealand is just one point behind, with a score of 155.
The Passport Index, which is updated in real time, is one measure used to assess the power wielded by the world’s passports.
Mr Arton said as the world became increasingly globalised, the power of passports was more important than ever.
“People don’t like imaginary borders that set boundaries to their opportunities in life,” he said. “Having multiple passports has become the new norm and people who haven’t invested in this privilege feel anxious and left out.”
On the other end of the scale, Afghanistan holds the unenviable title of the world’s least powerful travel document, allowing passport-holders to enter just 26 countries visa-free.
But it is only marginally less powerful than the passports of Iraq (29), Pakistan (30), Syria (33) and Somalia (34).
Recently news.com.au revealed that the colour of a nation’s passport held a significant meaning, and that there were only four passport colours used by governments across the world.
The Australian passport is blue, a colour historically associated with New World countries.
Almost all countries in the European Union have a red passport, while green is a colour commonly adopted by nations where Islam is the dominant religion.
A few of the world’s passports are black, such as the New Zealand passport, with black being a colour of national significance.