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Best Passports for Unrestricted Travel

United Kingdom and United States passports

The value of passports is determined in part by the number of countries a person in possession of a particular passport can travel to visa free.

Henley & Partners, a firm that offers residence and citizenship planning, also develops the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index. It is a report that ranks countries by the visa-free travel freedom of their citizens.

U.S. citizens can look to the Visa Restrictions Index for which countries are comparable in visa-free travel to the United States.

According to the 2015 Index, Germany and the United Kingdom each have visa-free travel arrangements with 173 countries in the world, a tie for the number one spot in global travel freedom.

A three-way tie for the number two spot includes Finland, Sweden, and the United States with visa-free travel to 172 countries. Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Nprway and the Netherlands are in a three-way tie for number three with their citizens able to travel visa free to 171 countries.

For U.S. citizens, the Visa Restrictions Index can be a helpful tool in both choosing a country for expatriation and in choosing a country from which to get a second passport.

Ranking high on the Index shows a country's positive status in the context of world relations as well as international travel freedom.

An example of a travel advantage is a U.S. citizen with legal residency in Canada who could then travel to countries like China, Brazil, Chile, and many others using their Canadian passport to avoid exorbitant visa fees charged only to U.S. residents.

In terms of expatriating, if a person decided to renounce their U.S. citizenship (often done for tax purposes) in favor of another country, they would want to consider the travel freedom they may be losing if their new host country is far down the list.

It may be better to choose a top-twenty country that offers some tax relief, but also maintains global travel freedom. Here's a .pdf version of the entire Visa Restrictions Index.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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