The Irish passport has ranked quite high in the Visa Restrictions Index, making it one of the most powerful identification documents in the world.
The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy. As of January 2016 Germany has the most powerful passport, for the third year running. Their citizens can visit 177 countries visa free. They are closely followed by Sweden in second place. The United States came in fourth alongside Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands with a ranking of 174 accessible countries.
The Irish passport is ranked in joint sixth place, with permission to travel to 172 countries. Ireland is ranked in the same bracket as Canada, South Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland.
The Henley Global group assesses countries on their citizens' freedom to travel to 219 destination nations. The highest attainable score 218. The index has been in operation for ten years.
Here’s a listing of the top six:
1. Germany - 177
2. Sweden - 176
3. Finland, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom - 175
4. Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, United States - 174
5. Austria, Japan, Singapore - 173
6. Canada, Ireland, South Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland - 172
Of course not all Irish passports are owned by those living in Ireland. It’s estimated that one million Irish born people are living abroad today. According to Global Irish there are over 3 million Irish passport holders living outside Ireland, many of whom are second and third generation Irish.
The Irish passport was also in the news earlier this summer when thousands of British nationals applied for an Irish passport following 'Brexit,' the British vote to leave the European Union. Applications for Irish passports from people living in the United Kingdom increased by 73 percent in the month after the Brexit result.
Read more: Sharp rise in Irish passport applications from Northern Ireland