“Where is it?!”

Shirts, pants, maps, tickets (and possibly my cat) went flying as I ransacked my apartment.

I was getting ready to head to the airport for two weeks in Southeast Asia, but there was one problem … I couldn’t find my passport. As I ran around tackling pieces of furniture in my panic, I envisioned the plane taking off, leaving me and my months of preparation behind.

It was a scary five minutes. But finally I found my navy blue U.S. passport innocently hiding under my luggage. I was safe. Life could go on as planned.

Whenever I think about that moment of panic, I’m shocked by the power in such a small object. If I don’t have it, I’m walled within the borders of the U.S. waving pitifully at planes. If I lose it while abroad, it’s an enormous hassle (to say the least) to get back home.

But even though my U.S passport holds vast weight, it’s not actually the most powerful one out there.

The Passport Index for 2017, created by financial firm Arton Capital, was just updated earlier this month — and the U.S. is in third place (tied with six other countries).

The Passport Index is a real-time global ranking of passports for 193 countries and six territories. It factors in the number of countries passport holders can visit without a visa or by grabbing a visa upon entry.

The country with the most powerful passport?

That honor goes to Germany for the third year running. As for one of the most notable changes this year … Singapore comes to mind. It moved up from fourth place to second place (tying with Sweden). In fact, Singapore is now the most powerful Asian passport, overtaking South Korea, which was in second place last year and is now in sixth.

Currently, the top global rankings look like this:

  1. Germany — visa-free score 158.
  2. Singapore and Sweden — visa-free score 157.
  3. Denmark, Finland, France, Spain, Norway, the U.K. and the U.S. — visa-free score 156.

On the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan had the weakest passport, with a visa-free score of 23. You can view the scores for other countries here.

The reason I bring this up is because it’s critical to understand the traveling power that innocuously little blue rectangle holds — particularly nowadays.

The U.S.’ visa-free ranking could drop in the next number of years depending on how our foreign-policy relations shape up in the wake of Trump’s America-first administration. Not to mention, you always want to have a way out as the already egregious attacks on our liberties and privacy ramp up.

I urge you to do some investigating if you haven’t already — at least for some peace of mind. Start looking into second passports that will sow the seeds for a better tomorrow. Now is the time.

If you’re wondering how to get started, former Congressman Bob Bauman’s best-selling The Passport Book is an excellent reference point for destinations that make it easy to obtain a second passport.

And as a spare bit of advice … maybe glue your passport to your forehead when you’re about to travel out of the country. It’ll save you from running around your apartment, terrifying your cat.

Put Power in Your Passport
Jessica Cohn-Kleinberg
Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing