Here are the top 5 countries with the weakest passports, meaning the fewest number of countries their citizens can visit visa-free:
- Afghanistan – visa-free access to 26+ countries
- Iraq – visa-free access to 28+ countries
- Syria – visa-free access to 29+ countries
- Pakistan – visa-free access to 33+ countries
- Somalia – visa-free access to 35+ countries
Other weak passport countries are Yemen, Palestinian Territory, Nepal, Libya, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Sudan, Ethiopia, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Iran, South Sudan, Myanmar (Burma), Congo (Democratic Republic).
There are several reasons why certain countries may have passports with limited visa-free travel privileges, often referred to as “weak passports”:
- Geopolitical Factors: Political instability, ongoing conflicts, or human rights issues can contribute to a weak passport.
- Economic Factors: Countries with lower economic indicators may face visa restrictions as they may be perceived as having higher risks of illegal immigration or overstays.
- Security Concerns: Countries that have experienced or are currently facing security threats, terrorism, or high crime rates may have passports with limited visa-free travel access.
- Reciprocity: If a country imposes strict visa requirements on visitors from another country, that country may reciprocate by implementing similar restrictions on its citizens.
- Global Perception: Negative perceptions or international sanctions can lead to visa restrictions.
- Immigration Concerns: Countries with a high rate of illegal immigration, human trafficking, or visa overstays may face stricter visa requirements from other nations, resulting in a weaker passport.
- Lack of Bilateral Agreements: Bilateral agreements enable citizens of participating countries to travel without visas, but the absence of such agreements can restrict travel privileges.
The strength of a passport can change over time based on various geopolitical, economic, and diplomatic factors. Governments can work towards improving international relationships, security, and economic indicators to enhance the strength of their passports and increase visa-free travel access for their citizens.