Henley Passport Index Ranks The World’s Most Powerful Passports
The world’s most powerful passport has changed for the first time in five years.
Japan has been knocked off the top spot for the world’s most powerful passport for the first time in five years. Singapore has taken first place on the latest Henley Passport Index 2023 rankings. Singaporeans enjoy visa-free access to 192 travel destinations out of 227 worldwide.
At the start of 2023, Japan held the top spot with visa-free access to 193 countries.
|The world’s most powerful passport has changed for the first time in five years. Photo: euronews
That has now dropped to 189 countries, leaving Singapore in first place. The country has gained visa-free access to an additional 25 over the past 10 years, pushing it five places up the ranking.
The top 10 is rounded out by:
2. Germany, Italy and Spain
3. Japan, Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea and Sweden
4. Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, and the UK
5. Belgium, Czechia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland
6. Australia, Hungary and Poland
7. Canada and Greece
8. Lithuania and the USA
9. Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia
10. Estonia and Iceland
The UK has risen the ranks from sixth to fourth place for the first time since 2017.
The USA, meanwhile, has continued its 10-year decline, falling a further two spots to eighth place. The country has seen the smallest increase in its score of any in the rankings over the past decade.
In 2014, the UK and USA jointly held first place.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ranks 199 passports worldwide. It’s updated in real-time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
In its latest release, Henley & Partners notes that over the history of the 18-year-old ranking, the average number of destinations travelers can access visa-free has nearly doubled, from 58 in 2006 to 109.
|Japan has been knocked off the top spot for the world’s most powerful passport for the first time in five years. Photo: Getty Images
However, the travel freedom gap between those at the top and the bottom of the ranking is wider than ever. Citizens of Afghanistan are only able to visit 27 destinations without a prior visa, just below Iraq (with 29 destinations) and Syria (with 30).
Cristian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, notes that Singapore has been busy securing greater travel freedom for its citizens over the past decade, gaining visa-free access to 25 new destinations.
“The UAE has added an impressive 107 destinations to its visa-free score since 2013,” he says. “Of the countries sitting in the Top 10, the US has seen the smallest increase in its score, securing just 12 additional destinations.”
Greg Lindsay, from Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, says in the Henley & Partners release, “The story is a simple one - by more or less standing still, the US has fallen behind. America’s relentless slide down the rankings is a warning to its neighbor Canada and the rest of the Anglosphere as well.”
Does openness equate to access?
The two indexes show that high openness does not necessarily equate to high visa-free access to countries. However, Singapore and South Korea - both relatively open - have climbed the Passport Index, while the USA and Canada have slid down the Index as their openness stagnates.
American passport holders can access 184 out of 227 destinations visa-free, whereas only 44 other nationalities are granted visa-free access to the US. EU states grant visa-free privileges to more than twice the number of states than the US.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan are the top five countries with the biggest disparity between the travel freedom they enjoy and the visa-free access they grant to other countries.
The countries that are most open but hold the least powerful passports include Somalia, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Burundi, and Nepal.
|Vietnam, Dominica Sign Visa Exemption Agreement
Vietnam and the Commonwealth of Dominica have signed an agreement on visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports.
|Vietnam News Today (Dec. 9): Vietnam, Belarus Exempt Visas For Ordinary Passport Holders
Vietnam News Today (Dec. 9): Vietnam, Belarus exempt visas for ordinary passport holders; NA Chairman receives leaders of Thai Chamber of Commerce, leading Thai firms; ...
|What is Current Rank of Vietnamese Passport in The World?
Countries with strong diplomatic ties and positive international relations often have powerful passports that offer their citizens extensive visa-free access to other countries.