The American passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world and American passport holders can enter many countries around the world visa-free, visa on arrival, or with an eVisa. Americans can visit almost every country in Europe visa-free.

For those traveling for the first time, it is important to understand immigration around the world and to have tips on overstaying, visa applications, and visa extensions. The American Passport is a very powerful passport (but not the most powerful) and will get the holder to most of the countries of the world hassle-free.

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The American Passport And Current Limitations

As of the time of writing (April 2022), the Passport Index ranked the American passport as the 22nd most powerful in the world. There are some 109 countries that the Americans enjoy visa-free access, another 52 that is visa on arrival, with the remaining 37 countries requiring a visa. It should be noted that while the American passport was ranked 22nd, there are only around 2 countries different between the second (Germany's) and America's place. 22nd among equals if you will.

  • Rank: 22nd Most Powerful

In this article, we will not be considering far Eastern Europe - Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, or Moldova due to the current circumstances. As of the time of writing (April 2022) entry into those countries is forbidden and/or not advised. There are also travel restrictions for American Passport holders to Cuba, Syria, and North Korea.

  • Restrictions: Americans Are Restricted From Entering At Least Three Countries In The World

Outside the countries listed above, Americans can visit all the countries of Europe visa-free (if one includes Turkey, then Americans need to get a very simple eVisa before arriving in Turkey).

Related: Every Reason Why You Should Have A Passport, Even If You Don't Travel Internationally

The Schengen Area

It is important to understand the map of Europe, most of the countries in Europe are part of the Schengen Area - this is a common travel area where Americans are permitted to stay visa-free for 90 days within a 180-day period (it is generally not extendable).

  • Members: The Schengen Area Is Made Up of 26 European Countries
  • Visa Policy: Visa-Free For 90 Days Within A 180 Day Period

The Schengen Area is made up of 22 European Union member countries and four nonmember states (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland). This means that when one enters Schengen there are no border crossings, no passport controls, and flights are treated as domestic flights.

Some micro states also have free movement within Schengen like Monaco and the Vatican City.

Not All Continental European Countries Are Schengen

Not all the European countries on the continent are part of Schengen - and not all the countries are part of the European Union. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are part of the European Union but not Schengen. These have their own passport controls and visa policies (so if one is running out of time in Schengen after 90 days, there are still other European countries that one can visit.

Even the micro-state of Andorra is not part of the European Union and the Schengen Area - one can stay there for 3 months too - although the immigration officials do not always work and sometimes the stations are open and un-staffed.

  • Balkan Countries: Americans Have Visa-Free Access to All Balkan Countries

The Balkan region has a number of countries that are not part of the European Union - Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. All of these have their own border controls and all are visa-free for American passport holders.

Related: Why Are There More Passports & Immigrations Than Countries?

The British Isles and the Common Travel Area

The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland form a Common Travel Area - like a mini Schengen Area. Once one is in either of these countries, there is little or no border control between them. The travel area also includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

  • Visa Policy of UK: Visa-Free For 6 Months
  • Visa Policy of Ireland: Visa-Free For 3 Months

But while there are no border controls between the two countries, unlike the harmonized Schengen Area, that doesn't mean Americans can spend the same amount of time in those countries. Americans can enter the United Kingdom for 6 months visa-free (including Northern Ireland) but the Republic of Ireland for only 3 months (Ireland can also have a strict application of immigration rules).

There are also no border controls within the United Kingdom (between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).