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Top 10 most useless passports? Half are from the Middle East

Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya are some of the worst passports to hold, according to annual index by law firm
Travellers wait on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing point to get into Gaza (AFP)

If you own a German passport, the world is your oyster, but spare a thought for the Iraqis, who along with several of their regional neighbours can only dream of visa-free travel to most of the planet.

That's according to an annual report released Wednesday on the world's most useless passports, half of which belong to the nations and territories of the Middle East.

While holders of Western passports are largely free to travel around the world thanks to their passports, citizens of many Arab, Asian and African countries do not have that luxury, according to the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index.

Falling just behind Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Iraqi passport was deemed the third worst to hold as a result of the travel restrictions and lack of access Iraqis have to other countries

Along with Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and the Palestinian territories also made it into the top ten list. Yemen trailed closely.

The law firm Henley & Partners, which has produced the index annually for the past 11 years, gathered information about the development of visa policies from 218 countries to create the list. Multiple countries tied in more than one place in the list with 104 places.

Visa requirements depend on each country’s relationships with others. The difficulty or ease of either obtaining or not requiring one depends on several factors including diplomatic relationships, security risks, and reciprocal visa arrangements.

The worst passport to hold this year is from Afghanistan, which allows its citizens to travel to only 25 countries in the world without a visa.

The top-ranked country that provided its citizens with visa-free access to 177 countries out of 218 is once again Germany, which also came in first place last year.

The UK, along with Finland, France, Italy and Spain, tied for third best passport, all allowing access to 177 countries without a visa.

“Generally, there was significant movement across the board with only 21 of the 199 countries listed remaining in the same rank,” Henley & Partners said on their website.

“No country however, dropped more than three positions, indicating that overall, visa-free access is improving around the world.”

The firm also concluded that despite the world becoming more mobile and interdependent, there continues to be huge discrepancies in the levels of travel freedom between countries.