The largest expert travel community:
  • 738,744 Total members
  • 6,145 Users online now
  • 1,678,704 Threads
  • 30,248,283 Posts

Why an American Passport Is Less Powerful in 2019

Why an American Passport Is Less Powerful in 2019
Scott Dylan

A United States passport may not be the golden ticket it once was. Passports from the United States seem to be getting less powerful with each year. The latest version of the Henley Passport Index shows that the United States has slipped down all the way to sixth place when it comes to passport power to gain access into other countries.

The United States passport had been in fifth place just last year. Travelers with passports from the United States can currently enter a total of 185 countries around the world without visas or visas upon arrival. The United States is tied with Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom when it comes to roaming power.

Certain parts of the world are seeing bigger growth when it comes to passport power in 2019. Many countries in Asia are rising in the Henley ranking. In fact, the country with the strongest passport in the world right now is Japan. This is the second year in a row that Japan has taken the top spot. Citizens of Japan can use their passports to enter 190 different countries around the world. South Korea and Singapore are tied for second place.

However, there’s one powerhouse Asian nation that isn’t a powerhouse when it comes to its passport. China comes in at 69 out of all the countries in the world. However, the Chinese passport has actually taken a dramatic leap in recent years. The Chinese passport has managed to jump 20 places on the Henley Passport Index in just two years.

There’s no denying that Asian passports are gaining power. However, European nations still hold most of the top spots. France and Germany are tied for third place this year. Denmark, Italy, Finland and Sweden are all tied for fourth place.

The good news for Americans is that a United States passport is still exceptionally powerful in the grand scheme of things. It’s not uncommon for nations to move up and down a few notches when it comes to passport power. However, geopolitical events can cause a country’s passport holders to lose access to other nations in the blink of an eye.

Avid travelers may be disappointed to discover that their passports can’t get them everywhere. Travelers from Japan can currently enter five more countries than travelers from the United States. You’re out of luck if you were planning to increase your travel potential by applying for a Japanese passport. Obtaining Japanese citizenship is an incredibly difficult process that will require you to renounce your existing citizenship.

[Image: Max Pixel]

View Comments (10)


  1. oktoberfest

    February 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Why not tell us what the 5 countries a US passport will not get you into that a Japanese one will?

  2. hfly

    February 1, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    These Henley guys seem to have done an awesome PR job over the last 2-3 years as their “index” seems to get cited everywhere. The problem is that they are the Passport equivalent of Skytrax or Business Traveler magazine, which create marketplaces, and sustain them. What is Henley’s main business? Well they seemingly have two: One advises governments how to put together and in cases they even run citizenship sales schemes, the other business? An advisory to help individuals buy secondary citizenship. So there is no surprise that often they seem to be pushing certain countries, or highlighting that country X can travel visa free to one hundred and something countries………..when many of the most important countries are NOT included. Furthermore, has anyone looked at the actual index? The difference between number 1 and 6 is a WHOPPING 5 countries, with only China and India really being significant (and unchanged for decades), and Turkey being inaccurate (VOA is still available at IST, and was not interrupted in October, and IATA has been too lazy to fix this for months), Azerbaijan seems to change yearly.

  3. sdsearch

    February 2, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Why in the world go to the trouble of obtaining a different passport just to avoid A FEW visa fees? In addition to the 185 countries that the USA passport is good for without a visa, there’s an additional 41 for which a visa is required. What’s the point of getting another passport just to get 5 out of those 41 countries visa-free?

    And this list changes all the time, without your passport being reissued, because it’s based on visa requirements, not on the passport itself.

  4. sdsearch

    February 4, 2019 at 7:20 am

    oktoberfest, it’s not that the US passport won’t get you into those countries, it’s that you don’t need to get a visa for those 5 countries in addition to the passport.

    One of the countries not on the US list is Brazil. But all that means is that you need a visa to get into Brazil (and that may be changing soon anyway). Yes, I had to go a consulate before going to see Igauzu Falls (both Brazilian and Argentinian sides), but I felt it was worth it. They pasted a visa into my passport that I could use for 10 years.

    And it’s only for this reason that Brazil is one of the countries NOT on the US list!

  5. hyho61

    February 4, 2019 at 7:56 am

    It is not the visa fees, but the cumbersome process of applying at a consulate. Some of the stan countries (former Soviet bloc countries) have visa requirements for US citizens, but not for Japanese.

  6. eknock007

    February 4, 2019 at 10:19 am

    So you can step right in with a Japanese passport into countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Myammar amongst a group that a US passport cannot. But at least with a US passport, you can step right into the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, and Gambia. Take that Japanese passport.

  7. dvs7310

    February 4, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    2 of the ones Japanese passports get visa free entry to that the US doesn’t are China and Vietnam. The Vietnamese visa is easy now and relatively cheap since they implemented e-Visa last year, however China is still a major PITA even though they give US passport holders 10 years now. They regularly deny people (US passport holders) visas for arbitrary reasons, suspicion of being a journalist is a common one.

  8. makrom

    February 5, 2019 at 4:49 am

  9. makrom

    February 5, 2019 at 4:52 am

    I just noticed that this is a very weird ranking When you put several contestands on the same place, you usually skip these ranking numbers for the following ranks. So when Singapore and South Korea are both sharing second place, France can’t be on 3rd place since there are more than 2 countries with a higher ranking. In case of the US, there are 11 countries with a higher ranking.

  10. Xnuiem

    February 6, 2019 at 9:24 am

    A US Passport slipped “all the way to 6th” from 5th…Long slip?

    Also, a US passport did not become less powerful, someone else became slightly more powerful.

    Typical FT click bait.

You must be logged in on the FORUM to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


More in News

Inspector General: Half of the Federal Air Marshal Program Budget is Misspent

Jeff EdwardsFebruary 19, 2019

Pieter Elbers Is the Employees’ Champ, But Is That Enough to Keep Him CEO?

Jackie ReddyFebruary 19, 2019

General Strike Brings Belgian Air Traffic To A Halt

Jackie ReddyFebruary 13, 2019

Copyright © 2014 Top News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by Wordpress.