The American passport is losing its strength.
Every few months, the Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s different passports, based on how many places each passport allows visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access.
Last year, the United States placed fifth, tied with four other countries. But according to this year’s rankings, the United States has slipped. It is now in sixth place, tied with six other countries: Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Citizens of each of these countries can access a total of 185 other countries around the world without a visa or with a visa-upon-arrival. Last year, the U.S. and U.K. both had visa-free access to 186 countries.
While the United States may be slipping, Asian countries are gaining a strong foothold in the rankings. For the second year in a row, Japan has the most powerful passport in the world. Japanese citizens can use their passports to easily cross the border into 190 different countries.
South Korea and Singapore share the number two spot while the Chinese passport is currently sitting in 69th place. The Chinese passport has seen one of the most dramatic leaps in the ranking, jumping about 20 places in only two years.
But Asian countries don’t have total domination of the list. France and Germany share the third most powerful spot, though back in 2015 the duo shared the top slot. Denmark, Italy, Finland and Sweden all share the fourth spot.
It’s important to remember that this ranking is not necessarily a competition, but rather a way of demonstrating which countries are the most likely to promote international open doors.
"The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world," Henley & Partners Group Chairman Christian Kalin said in a press release.
And less restrictive borders are much better for people trying to see and understand the world, too.