The Passport Power Index
April 16, 2015 4:29 PM   Subscribe

The Passport Index is an interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world, based on how many countries their holders can visit without obtaining a visa before arrival or at all.
posted by damayanti (50 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
is there a way to see which countries one can visit? that'd be very helpful..
posted by raihan_ at 4:42 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey, look at all of these countries I can't afford to visit.
posted by Krazor at 4:42 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wish there were a way to compare countries. Like, why does New Zealand have visa-free entry to one more country than Australia? Also, I'd like to know more about the background: why is Oman so highly placed relative to other Arab states? It's 13; the next is the UAE at 47!

Finally, a note to the graphic designer: you have not refuted the Four Color Theorem just because you drew everything in beige.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:44 PM on April 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


I think my favourite bit of this is the pages where you can sort the passports by colour. That is very soothing.

I really expected that when I clicked on Canada, the map would recolour to show me where I could go without a visa.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Belgians can travel more places visa free than I can as a Canadian? Fucking Belgians man. That's some straight up bullshit.
posted by Keith Talent at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Behold the power of imperialism.
posted by wuwei at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


VisaMapper shows where you can travel with a certain passport. No pretty pictures of passports though.
posted by Harpocrates at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


What is the minimum number of passports needed to visit any country in the world?
posted by diffenderfer at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


The coolest passports are;

1. New Zealand
2. Ukraine
3. (TIE) Samoa/St. Lucia (although it looks like it would get dirty, and do i really want to add passport cleaning to my to do list?)
4.Mongolia
posted by Keith Talent at 5:03 PM on April 16, 2015


It's kinds misleading, too, I see via the Visamapper that U.S. citizens require visa on arrival in many countries where I as a Canadian don't, they still need a visa, just because the acquisition is trivial doesn't mean it shouldn't count in the stats.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


How can Canada be lower than the US? Everyone likes Canada. They're like the fireman of nations.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:13 PM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Minor disclaimer: this website was built by Arton Capital. They encourage "individuals and families to become Global Citizens in part by connecting clients to citizenship-purchasing programs."

These programs are controversial in part because they encourage poor countries to act as holding tanks for the poor and deported but gateways for the rich and powerful. See this piece about the country of Nauru. Previously.
posted by pmg at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Do the US and UK passports give you access to the same exact 147 nations?

I wonder how much longer visas will exist for short-term travel, they are basically a formality now anyway.....
posted by miyabo at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2015


This list has the US and UK tied for number 1, with 147 countries. But this other list has the UK, Sweden, and Finland tied for first at 173 (US is tied for fourth at 172). I thought perhaps the difference was due to visa-on-arrival vs. no visa, but that doesn't seem to be it. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers differed a bit based on when the counting was done... but the discrepancy of 25 seems a bit too much.

(The full matrix of which countries allow entry to citizens of which other countries seems like an interesting data set. Is that available anywhere?)
posted by madcaptenor at 5:19 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are all passports really all the same size and shape?

I was sorta hoping for some variety there. Maybe a popup book or circular spinny dial thing instead of pages for the stamps.
posted by notyou at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2015


I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers differed a bit based on when the counting was done... but the discrepancy of 25 seems a bit too much.


/How it was done. How you count the number of countries in the world is a non-trivial question.
posted by damayanti at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Malaysian passport (rank 7) clearly states on the second page that it's valid for all countries except Israel (as Malaysia doesn't recognize Israel's existence). Still, we're allowed to go there under certain conditions with the permission of the interior ministry. At the border crossing, our passports were stamped on a separate piece of paper so the entry and exit from Israel was never recorded on the passport: as the fact that we entered Israel can cause issues when re-entering Muslim sympathizing countries, like Malaysia.

So if you look at my passport it would be as if I had never been into Israel, which I think is randomly interesting.
posted by xdvesper at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The full matrix of which countries allow entry to citizens of which other countries seems like an interesting data set. Is that available anywhere?

This kind of data usually comes (and the Passport Index site says they got it from) an IATA system called Timatic. It's a giant database of countries and passport requirements used by the airlines. While TimaticWeb is a subscription site, Star Alliance has a publically assessable web interface. It's not the full matrix though (that's the proprietary data they are selling), just a query tool to look up passport and visa details. It also shows vaccination requirements too.
posted by zachlipton at 5:30 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


why does New Zealand have visa-free entry to one more country than Australia?
Brazil. Dunno why.
posted by Lame_username at 5:31 PM on April 16, 2015


They always forget the Antarcticans.
posted by unliteral at 5:31 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much longer visas will exist for short-term travel, they are basically a formality now anyway.....

I always kinda assumed they were a revenue generation tool in many countries first world citizens like to travel to. Looking at you here, India and Cambodia.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Are all passports really all the same size and shape?

Pretty much. There are international standards for size, shape, and the information within. Given that border officials have to check hundreds or even thousands a day, knowing exactly what you're looking at is a great help. Making them machine readable naturally needs even stronger standards.

Maybe Nepal offers a funky shape...
posted by Thing at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Their calculated ranking is not very insightful given that ranks 1-10 and ranks 10-20 differ by only 10 countries i.e. 7% (7 divided by 130). It's which countries per passport that matters more. Surely they could have picked a more interesting metric. If you need 80 ranks for your data they have to be more meaningful than that.
posted by polymodus at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brazil has a reciprocal visa waiver program with New Zealand. Brazil is very big on reciprocal arrangements, I've heard - if there's no formal one, they'll just make their visa cost for your citizens match what you charge theirs.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:55 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


diffenderfer: "What is the minimum number of passports needed to visit any country in the world?"

Ok, excuse me while my inner computer scientist geeks out a little bit, because I think you've just given a real-world example of an NP-complete problem.
posted by Wemmick at 6:13 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I hold three passports. Entering Israel of course turns up many countries (hi Malaysia!) where I am not even allowed to exist, where being me is illegal.


In my younger days I tried to improve relations between Israel and Malaysia by having as many Malaysian girlfriends as possible, but I'm sorry to note that this had no effect at all and if anything appears to have made things worse.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:34 PM on April 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Passport Power Index!
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:55 PM on April 16, 2015


Previously.
posted by divabat at 7:08 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh wait, no... it's a set cover problem not a vertex cover. I was thinking passport access was bidirectional, and I don't think that's true.
posted by Wemmick at 7:09 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Needs support for multiple passports. How much better is my U.S.+ Mexico than just U.S. ? What about my sister's U.S.+Mexico+ Columbia, or my future child's U.S.+Japan?
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Note that this seems to be generally talking about traveling as a tourist. Things change dramatically if you're going for business, or for school, or staying for extended lengths of time.
posted by eriko at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I always kinda assumed they were a revenue generation tool in many countries first world citizens like to travel to. Looking at you here, India and Cambodia.

Heh. India, at least, has a reciprocal visa fee regime. The visa fee with a Pakistani passport was USD0.50 the last time I checked. The cost with a US passport was more like USD50. It's not clear to me whether India is setting the varying fee, or simply basing it off of what their citizens are charged by other countries.
posted by bardophile at 9:10 PM on April 16, 2015


Yep. First question I want to know is what is the best 2-passport combination.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:29 PM on April 16, 2015


The full matrix of which countries allow entry to citizens of which other countries seems like an interesting data set. Is that available anywhere?

I scraped the data from VisaMapper for 182 countries. Here's a zip containing the Python script I used, the resulting TSV file, and an Excel version with colors added. (A few rows are missing due to HTTP 500 errors.) Each row is a country's passport, so if the row for "us" and the column for "cu" is a red 4, then you can't go to Cuba with a US passport.

I would also be interested in things like the smallest set of passports needed to go anywhere, but don't have time right now. Anyone else want to analyze the data?

(Some of the data does look weird. The ("gr", "gr") cell is a 3, meaning you apparently need a visa prior to traveling within Greece.)
posted by Rangi at 10:15 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh, heh, this was linked in my work chat a day or so ago. I love this site. It just satisfies that collector's urge to see all the variations on a theme next to each other. I love official badges and ephemera, too, so it scratches that itch as well. So beautiful.

Oh right, and the little thing I love: How the close buttons on the modals that pop up rotate slightly when you hover over them. It's just a little thing, but I love when sites display bits of craftsmanship like that. It seems apropos.
posted by limeonaire at 11:00 PM on April 16, 2015


I always kinda assumed they were a revenue generation tool in many countries first world citizens like to travel to. Looking at you here, India and Cambodia.

Citizens of countries low on this list of visa-free travel do not have the privilege of paying a simple fee to enter many countries they would like to travel to. Instead, there is often a lengthy application process with even higher fees, which are often non-refundable whether a visa is issued or not.
posted by romanb at 11:14 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Israel/Muslim relations always cause the edge cases with passports. I recently found out that the only case where it's legal for a Canadian to possess two passports is when you need to do business in both Israel and say the UAE. You basically end up with one passport to use in Israel and one to use in the rest of the world.
posted by cirhosis at 11:43 PM on April 16, 2015


Given that in Ireland you can potentially obtain both a US passport and a UK one, on top of the Irish one, we are the champeens..
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:39 AM on April 17, 2015


I work for a large, global multi-national IT company. As power, resources and influence moves from West to East the "visa-ability" of our employees really does matter. One year we held a large conference in Thailand. A large number of those scheduled to attend were from China. The delays and processes involved in getting our Chinese employees there meant many could not attend. It severely impacted the value of the conference. The following year the conference was held in Macau.
posted by vac2003 at 3:25 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, if it was less of a pain in the tits to get into China I'm sure other countries might reciprocate.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:31 AM on April 17, 2015


I used this layout to play a fun (to me) game of running my eye over everything quickly to see how fast I could find my passport. Turns out it was very fast, because the NZ passport is super cool. I've even had people at airports talk to me about it, it's that pretty. The inside is also beautiful by the way.

I'd still consider swapping it for a Shengen one if that magically was possible because that would make my life easier in a lot of ways totally aside from just general travel. Work permits are a pain in the arse and definitely make it harder to find a job. But eh, at least I have a cool fern pattern as consolation.
posted by shelleycat at 5:47 AM on April 17, 2015


Eh, this is more of a toy than a tool. It's aggravating that they have an underlying data set, but you can't drill down to see it. (120 countries? Which ones? You know what they are, surely, just list them.)

The map can be aggravating, too--no ability to zoom in to get to smaller Caribbean nations, for example, and no way to find what's probably the single pixel for Andorra. Try clicking the island dot for French Polynesia--you don't get an explicit error, but it's clearly not handled right.

Clicking on French Guiana brings up a blank white "Passport of French Guiana", with 0 and 0 as the results. Which is technically correct--since a "Passport of French Guiana" doesn't exist, you couldn't travel anywhere with it anyway.
posted by gimonca at 5:58 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


That "sort by colour" thing is pretty annoying when they haven't standarised the imagery - it looks as if they've taken the images directly from Wikipedia. EU passports are made to a uniform design, and the colour is supposed to be "burgundy", but this one colour can show up very differently in different photos, depending on the lighting. There should be a uniform block of burgundy EU passports, but instead they're all over the place (look at Ireland and Italy, beside each other on the alphabetical list but looking like two different colours)
posted by Azara at 6:51 AM on April 17, 2015


a uniform block of burgundy EU passports

That explains why I find it so difficult to play guess the passport over people's shoulders while waiting in line for various things at the airport. Really I'm just waiting for the day I see another silver fern (besides my husband's), but at least I'm not imagining how similar the other ones are. I'm actually a tiny bit disappointed.
posted by shelleycat at 6:59 AM on April 17, 2015


It's kinds misleading, too, I see via the Visamapper that U.S. citizens require visa on arrival in many countries where I as a Canadian don't, they still need a visa, just because the acquisition is trivial doesn't mean it shouldn't count in the stats.

I don't understand this -- it doesn't say which countries in the Passport Index it is using, so how can we assume that it is inconsistently counting countries for US vs. Canadian passports?

Also, at least one country is incorrect on that Visamapper map. Argentina is shaded as "visa on arrival" for US citizens and "visa free" for Canadians, but it should the same for both -- neither US nor Canadian citizens require a visa for short-term tourist trips, and both are required to pay a reciprocity fee (US$160 and US$92, respectively). There's no difference here and they should be shaded the same color.
posted by andrewesque at 7:05 AM on April 17, 2015


There's definitely some incorrect data in VisaMapper. For example, according to VisaMapper, citizens of South Korea are completely barred from entry to Greenland.

Given that it's crowd-sourced data, errors are not surprising.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:26 AM on April 17, 2015


I travelled from Edinburgh to Dublin a couple of days ago. On entry to Dublin we had to go through passport control. On return to Edinburgh I found myself landside wondering why my passport hadn't been checked. I have no idea if it was some bureaucratic cock-up or if there is an asymmetry of trust between us.
posted by epo at 9:33 AM on April 17, 2015


Are all passports really all the same size and shape?

My wife is Egyptian and she was really excited when she was able to get a "standard" sized passport a few years ago when she renewed it. Before that, the Egyptian one was a weird long size, almost like a checkbook. I don't know when they changed the size but it was within the last ten years. I wonder if they were the last to get with the program.

I wonder how much longer visas will exist for short-term travel, they are basically a formality now anyway.....

Your experiences are not universal.
posted by Peter J. Prufrock at 9:54 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Citizens of countries low on this list of visa-free travel do not have the privilege of paying a simple fee to enter many countries they would like to travel to. Instead, there is often a lengthy application process with even higher fees, which are often non-refundable whether a visa is issued or not.

Just wanted to make this comment appear a second time. People, it costs 160USD just to submit an online application form for a US tourist visa. In my country at least, you go and stand in line at the bank to pay this fee, because nobody is investing in actual infrastructure just to take your filthy money. Then you take at least half the day off work to visit a dark room at the US embassy, where you're asked about all your private business -- from your relationships to your job status to your mortgage to your bank balance, with supporting documents of course -- in earshot of several rows of random strangers. This "interview" lasts about 45 seconds (though of course the waiting is hours and hours, and cell phones aren't even allowed in the building). If you're not granted a visa at the end of it, oh well, you're free to buy another chance. It is slightly maddening to me that Americans generally don't have a clue about this, but then most people in Trinidad don't know that Nigerians have to leave a 2800USD "security bond deposit" (wtf) with our consulate if they want to visit us. Passports! It's amazing how the passport you have lights your specific little path through the world, however wide or narrow it is. You sit elbow to elbow with someone on a plane and have no idea how they got there, if they got there.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a Malaysian passport, rank 7. Before 2003 Malaysians didn't need a visa to go to Canada. Now I have to produce a ten-year travel history, amongst other things that would be slightly more common for a long-term visa, just to pop over for a short holiday.

I used to have Bangladesh passports. Visas are the bane of my existence.
posted by divabat at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


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