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Switzerland has fifth 'most powerful' passport in the world

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These distinctive read and white passports are not easy to get your hands on. Photo: Depositphotos
13:15 CEST+02:00
Switzerland has the fifth most powerful passport in the world, according to the latest edition of an index which ranks the level of visa-free access passports provide to their holders.

Global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners produces the Henley Passport Index each year using data from the International Air Transport Association.

The 2018 edition ranked Switzerland’s distinctive red and white passport as the equal fifth best in the world as it provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 185 countries.

The ranking puts Switzerland on the same footing as Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and Canada and just behind the United Kingdom and the United States, both of which provide visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 nations.

Japanese passport holders top the list with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 countries while Germany and Singapore come equal second (188).

However, getting your hands on a Swiss passport is no easy feat, with red tape, language requirements, cultural knowledge quizzes and differing rules across the country's cantons and communes all playing a role in complicating a process that is often both lengthy and costly.

Read also: how to apply for Swiss citizenship in 2018

In some cases a communal residents' committee even gathers to vote on your citizenship application, so it pays to keep in with the locals as this story about a Dutch woman who initially had her citizenship rejected because she complained about cow bells shows.

Schengen and Brexit

Countries belonging to Europe’s 26-member Schengen Area have traditionally topped the Henley index due to providing open access to large parts of Europe, Henley & Partners noted, but Asian countries are catching up thanks to strengthened international trade and diplomatic relations.

One European country that could see its position in the ranking weaken in the coming years is the UK, with Brexit potentially making trips abroad more complicated.

The Henley index surveys 199 different passports and the access they provide to 227 different destinations. 

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