Which country has the most powerful passport?


If you plan to travel abroad and see the world, you'll need a passport. And, depending on several factors, you might also need travel visas. Which passports allow you to travel with the least amount of hassle (and the least amounts of visas)? Let's create a map to help you find out!...

Before we get started, here are a couple of pictures to get you into mood for this topic. First is a picture of a Bangladeshi passport from my friend Mubarra (she has since become a US citizen, and has a US passport). Is it easy or difficult to travel with a Bangladeshi passport? When we're done with this blog, you'll know how to find out!

And here is a picture of a visa from my friend Alex. He's quite the international traveler!

So, how do we determine which country's passport is "best" for world traveling? It would be nice to have some sort of number for each country, eh? And that's exactly what the passportindex.org group has done! They came up with the "visa-free score" - this score shows how many countries your passport can visit visa-free (or by gaining a visa on arrival).

Their very cool website has several different ways to peruse the scores, and one of those ways is a map. On their web page, you can hover your mouse over the countries to see the country name, and click them to see a popup with a picture of the passport and their visa-free score. The interactivity of their map is nice, but I think it could use some work visually. For example, the gradient shading doesn't make for quick/easy comparison of the countries, and the dark end of their color gradient blends into the black background.

So I got the data into SAS, and proceeded to create my own map (click the screen capture below to see the full-size interactive version):

Here are a few of the improvements I made:

  • I used quantile binning, with 5 color bins, so you can easily tell which quintile (20%) each country is in.
  • I also added a color legend, so you can see exactly what scores correspond to each color.
  • I added a title and footnotes to explain exactly what the map represents.
  • I added a table below the map, sorted by the visa-free score.
  • The background color doesn't blend in with the map.
  • And when you click on the countries (in the map or table), it takes you to the page where you can see exactly how each country treats that passport (visa-free, visa required, visa on arrival, etc).

Play around with the map a bit, and see if there are any surprises. How did your country's passport do? And what passport would be your favorite to have (just for the sake of traveling to the countries you would most like to visit)?

And now for the quiz!...

  1. Find Bangladesh on the map, and determine what its visa-free score is. (hint: Bangladesh is east of India)
  2. Which country has the highest visa-free score? (you might have to 'think outside the box', or map in this case, to easily figure out this one!)
Which countries' passports allow you to travel most easily? Click To Tweet

About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. Well I believe the United States of America has the most powerful passport in the world. I am currently in the United States. I have met many American people who traveled around the world without having any problem,

  2. nicely done. The visa requirements for Canada erroneously includes Cuba. It's a popular sun destination for Canadians and all we need is a passport.

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