The World's Worst Passports

If you can visit more than 28 countries visa-free, you're doing OK

A few months ago, you might remember, this channel published a list of the world's best passports, which declared the British Passport as the biggest winner when it came to the number of countries its holders could access, visa-free. That article got a lot of attention, not surprisingly from Brits, who were proud of how powerful their passport is, even long after the fall of the British Empire.

Today's article flips to the other side of that coin—these are the world's worst passports. Objectively-speaking, all of these passports are the same: You can visit just 28 countries visa free when attempting to travel on any of them. The list below talks through some additional factors that make holding each of the world's worst passports more or less disadvantageous.

DISCLAIMER: Data from the amazing Passport Index website forms the foundation of this list. Make sure and check out the site after you read to make sure the rankings are still correct—they're changing all the...MORE time! 

  • 01 of 05

    São Tome and Principe

    São Tome and Principe
    São Tome and Principe is paradise, but not if you hold its passport. jmaximo via Wikimedia Commons

    Some of you reading this list probably didn't know that São Tome and Principe was a country, let alone that it was one of the world's worst passports to hold.

    Indeed, one of the main struggles travelers from this former Portuguese colony, which sits near the equator just off the west coast of Africa, is lack of flight options to get off the island or, save that, out of Africa. Aside from a couple weekly flights to Lisbon, Portugal, the only large cities you can reach from São Tome are Luanda, Angola; Libreville, Gabon; Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; and Accra, Ghana.

    On the other hand, while the passport of São Tome and Principe might be one of the world's worst passports to hold, there are worst places to be stuck. After all, the country is a paradisiacal island in one of the warmest maritime regions of the world. It's kind of hard to be sad when there are palm trees swaying overhead!

  • 02 of 05

    Palestinian Territories

    Palestinian village
    In spite of its beauty, Palestine has a passport problem. Robert Schrader

    Although Palestine has had some triumph in the past decade or so, with increasing presence at and recognition by the U.N., the Palestinian passport remains one of the world's worst.

    Compounding the fact that Palestinians can enter only a few countries passport-free is the fact that the largest nearby international airport, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, is difficult to access due to its location in Israel, which occupies the Palestinian Territories and maintains tense relations with them.

    While residents of the West Bank can cross into Jordan and leave the region via Amman's Queen Alia International Airport, the situation is decidedly more dire for those who live in Gaza. Not only is it extremely difficult for them to cross into Israel proper and fly from Ben Gurion, but it's not nearly as easy for them to enter neighboring Egypt as it it for those in the West Bank to go to Jordan.

     

  • 03 of 05

    Solomon Islands

    Solomon Islands Beach
    Do you really even need a passport if you live somewhere as beautiful as this?. Ravilacoya via Flickr

    Like São Tome and Principe, the Solomon Islands are a tiny island nation, although they sit in the South Pacific, just northeast of Papua New Guinea. While the Solomon Islands are less isolated by air than than São Tome and Principe, you can fly to global cities such as Sydney nonstop. Unfortunately, Sydney itself is quite isolated (24 hours from London and more than 12 from Los Angeles), which makes this a bit of a toss up in terms of passport power or lack thereof.

    Adding to this sad situation, nationals of the Solomon Islands have another big disadvantage working against them: Climate change. It's likely that much of this low-lying country will be underwater within the next century, so they'd better hope they can access more countries visa-free, lest they have to fend for themselves in a new water-world, with only their un-powerful passports to keep them afloat.

  • 04 of 05

    Myanmar

    Shwedagon Pagoda
    As the number of tourists to Myanmar increases, tourism opportunity for its citizens is sure to increase. Robert Schrader

    Myanmar's perception in the global community improved greatly during the early 2010s, following the release of exiled opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. More recently, the country and San Suu Kyi have attracted criticism for their silence in the wake of the Rohingya crisis, but Myanmar is nonetheless in the midst of a tourism boom.

    As a result of the ensuing tourism, cities like Yangon and Mandalay have become very well connected in Asia, with nonstop service to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and even Japan. Unfortunately, Burmese citizens taking these flights outbound have much more limited opportunities than foreigners going into their country to explore: They need a visa to go just about anywhere, which makes Myanmar's one of the world's worst passports.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    South Sudan

    Cattle camp in South Sudan
    South Sudan is the worst's newest nation but unfortunately, also holds its worst passport. Jadwiga Figula Photography/Moment/Getty Images

    South Sudan's passport is perhaps the very worst in the world. The country, the world's newest, suffers from the same geographical isolation as many on this list, but the country also bears another scar: Its citizens have a per capita GDP of just over $1,000 USD per year, which makes the prospect of international travel bleak for all but the richest among them.

    Even for the South Sudanese who can manage to afford a plane ticket to somewhere else in Africa or beyond, the added financial and logistical burden of needing to secure a visa in advance of travel exists. There's a reason the South Sudanese passport is known as one of the world's worst!