These are the most powerful passports to hold in 2023—with U.S. ranked below Romania, Canada and Malaysia

Two UAE passports on a wooden surface.
UAE passports have been named the most powerful in the world.
Bradai Abderrahmen—Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates is issuing the globe’s best passports in 2023, according to new research.

Passports from the UAE, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are the most powerful in the word, according to a new ranking by Nomad Capitalist, a company with offices in the U.S. and five other countries that helps its clients relocate overseas.

The firm analyzed data on 199 passport issuing countries and territories to produce the ranking.

The Emirati passport jumped a massive 31 spots higher from last year’s ranking, which named passports from Luxembourg as the world’s most powerful.

Passports from the small landlocked European nation, which sits between Belgium, France and Germany and is, by some measures, regarded as the richest nation in the world, fell into second place in the 2023 ranking.

The United States came in 43rd place, with U.S. passports named less powerful than those issued by Romania, Canada and Malaysia.

Most of Nomad Capitalist’s ranking comes down to visa free travel – that is, the number of countries a passport will allow its holder to enter without a visa.

That meant the top of the ranking was dominated by European countries, with EU, European Economic Area and Swiss citizens able to work and travel freely within one another’s nations.

However, other factors – including the taxes levied onto citizens of each passport issuing country, how a country is perceived around the world, and personal freedom of citizens in each country – also carried weight in Nomad Capitalist’s ranking.

The ability of passport holders to hold dual citizenship was also taken into account.

Although the UAE’s score in Nomad Capitalist’s freedom measure fell slightly between 2022 and 2023, its lack of income tax on citizens coupled with a big increase in the number of countries passport holders can visit without a visa helped it surge to the top of the table.

The UAE was also named world’s most powerful passport in a separate ranking published in January by Arton Capital.

According to Nomad Capitalist’s index, UAE passport holders can visit 181 countries visa-free, more than any other country in the ranking. Last year, Nomad Capitalist found a UAE passport could only access 175 countries with no visa requirements.

While U.S. passport holders are able to visit an impressive 173 countries with no visa, the U.S. lost points thanks to strict rules that mean citizens are liable to pay U.S. taxes even if they are living abroad.

It’s an issue that has prompted a quarter of American expats to consider renouncing their U.S. citizenship, according to a 2022 poll.

The U.S. also received average scores in Nomad Capitalist’s 2023 ranking for how it is perceived around the world, as well as the personal freedom afforded to its citizens as well as travelers and expats in the country.

The U.S. slipped two places lower in 2023 from a year earlier.

At the very bottom of the scale, Afghanistan was named the least powerful passport, a position it also held last year thanks to the limited number of countries its holders can visit without a visa and poor personal freedom in the country.

Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan and Eritrea rounded out the bottom five.

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