Wednesday. 08.02.2023

Japanese and Singaporeans have the world's most powerful passports

Citizens from Japan and Singapore enjoy access to 189 countries without a visa or with the possibility of processing a visa on arrival. Finland climbs to the second place thanks to changes in Pakistan's visa policy. The UK falls to 6th place due to the harmful influence of Brexit.

Photo by Karl Allen Lugmayer.

The passports issued by Japan and Singapore are currently the best in the world to travel. Either of them allows access to 189 countries without a visa or with the possibility of processing the visa upon arrival. These two countries lead the prestigious Henley Passport Index, a global ranking which in the third quarter of 2019 is basically dominated by Asian countries. 

The authors of the report, Henley & Partners, remarked in a press release that this latest ranking of passport power and global mobility -which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)- "marks the culmination of an 10-month long winning streak for Japan and Singapore, after they unseated Germany from its long-held 1st position at the beginning of 2018".

Falling from the 1st position spot it shared with Japan and Singapore last quarter, South Korea now sits in 2nd place on the index along with Finland and Germany, with citizens of all three countries able to access 187 destinations around the world without a prior visa.

Finland owes its ascent from 3rd to 2nd place to recent changes made to Pakistan’s formerly highly restrictive visa policy. In the hope of attracting tourists and boosting its struggling economy, Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Passport-ranking-HenleyImage Source: The Henley Passport Index.

UK and US in 6th place

This concession, strikingly, does not extend to other western countries such as the UK or the US. With a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 183, the UK and the US now share 6th place, which is the lowest position either country has held since 2010, and a significant drop from their 1st place spot in 2014.

Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg sit jointly in 3rd place on the index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186, while France, Spain, and Sweden are in joint 4th place, each with a score of 185.

In significant shifts elsewhere in the rankings, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has entered the index’s top 20 for the first time in the index’s 14-year history, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 165.

Over the past decade, the UAE has climbed a record-breaking 41 places. In the last five years more than doubled the number of destinations its citizens are able to travel to without a prior visa.

Passport-power-globalImage Source: The Henley Passport Index.

Other strong climbers include Taiwan, which has climbed 24 places over the past ten years and now sits in 30th place, and Serbia, which has also climbed 24 places in the past decade and is now 41st place.

At the other end of the ranking, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the global mobility spectrum (alone in 109th), with its citizens able to access only 25 destinations worldwide without a prior visa.

The harmful influence of Brexit

Henley & Partners also highlights that, throughout most of the index’s long history, the UK has held one of the top five places in the ranking. However, with its exit from the EU now imminent, and coupled with ongoing confusion about the terms of its departure, the UK’s once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain.

"The Brexit process has not yet had a direct impact on the UK’s ranking, but new research using exclusive historical data from the Henley Passport Index indicates that this could change, with consequences that extend beyond a decline in passport power", says the press release.

Japanese and Singaporeans have the world's most powerful passports