Ranking downgrades Swiss passport's 'power'

The Local
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Ranking downgrades Swiss passport's 'power'

The passports of 18 countries are regarded as more “powerful” than the one offered by Switzerland, according to a new survey.


The “ultimate passport ranking” issued by travel website GoEuro on Tuesday rates the Swedish passport as the most powerful in the world in a comparison of travel documents from 50 countries.

The passport from Finland ranks second, followed by those from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Denmark.

The rankings are based on key factors that travellers in a poll said made a passport powerful.

These included its price, number of visa-free entries to other countries, and the length of its validity.

“In previous rankings it has largely been a matter of analyzing visa-free access to determine the strength of a passport,” Molly Levinson a spokeswoman from GoEuro told The Local.

“This is an important factor, but it is also crucial to consider the ability of the average citizen to afford purchasing the document,” Levinson said.

“Cost plays a large part in Sweden's ranking,” she said.

“The Swedish passport ranks higher based on a combination of visa-free access and ease of obtaining the document,” Levinson said.

“This places Sweden higher than countries such as Switzerland which offers visa-free access to fewer countries and has a more expensive passport.”

At $43, the Swedish passport was ranked the cheapest in the world in terms of hours needed to work at the local minimum wage to pay for it — one hour, according to GoEuro.

(That figure may raise some eyebrows since Sweden does not have a legislated minimum wage and $43 an hour seems higher than the lowest wages in the country. 

But the price of its passport in nominal terms was the second lowest among the top 20 countries in the survey behind eighth-ranked Spain ($30), where wages are significantly lower than in Sweden.)

The Swedish passport also offers visa-free access to 174 countries, as do passports for Finland, Germany, the UK and the US.

By comparison, Switzerland’s passport, ranked 19th overall, offering access without a visa to 170 countries.

Unlike Swedes, Swiss citizens require a visa for such countries as Rwanda, Malawi and Vietnam.

Switzerland’s passport was also rated one of the most expensive at $169, which translates into nine hours’ work at minimum wage, the report said.

(The quoted figure is based on currency exchange rates as of February 1st that have changed: the price of the passport in Swiss francs is currently 140 francs, which works out to around $146 as of Tuesday's rates.)

But when travellers were asked in a poll what additional nationality they would like to acquire, Swiss came third, behind American and British, GoEuro said.

And despite the advantages of a passport from Sweden, the report highlighted a downside.

In 2013, it said, “Swedish passports were reported to be among the most frequently sold passports on the black market”.

Why? The reason cited was that there is no upper limit on the number of replacement passports “available for the rightful holder”.

The survey found Liberia had the most expensive passport based on local wage rates ($50, translating into 278 hours at minimum wage).

In nominal prices, Turkey was home to the most expensive passport at $251, while the United Arab Emirates had the cheapest at $14.

It highlighted a disparity in prices for countries across Europe, ranging from as little as $24 in Bulgaria and $25 in the Czech Republic to as much as $175 in Lithuania.  

For more on the rankings, click here.


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