For the first time in five years, Japan no longer has the world’s most powerful passport.
The methodology and data behind the ranking
The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which shows how many destinations a passport holder can enter visa-free.
Afghanistan has the weakest passport in the world, with a visa-free access score of only 27, followed by Iraq (29), and Syria (30).
The trends and implications of global mobility
The U.S has seen the smallest improvement in its score over the past decade among the top 10 countries, Henley Passport Index notes, gaining visa-free access to just 12 more destinations between 2013 and 2023. Singapore, on the other hand, has increased its score by 25, climbing five places up the ranking over the past 10 years to the top spot.
Henley Passport Index also observes that while American passport holders can access 184 destinations visa-free, the U.S itself only welcomes 44 other nationalities without a visa.
A statement added: ‘The average number of destinations travellers can access visa-free has almost doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023, showing a general trend towards greater travel freedom over the history of the 18-year-old ranking. However, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever, with Singapore having 165 more visa-free destinations than Afghanistan.’
‘Ukraine and China are also among the top 10 countries with the most improved rankings over the past decade.
‘A strong passport provides significant financial freedoms in terms of international investment and business opportunities, far more than just a travel document that defines our freedom of movement. Global connectivity and access have become indispensable features of wealth creation and preservation, and their value will only grow as geopolitical volatility and regional instability increase.’
How do countries rank in terms of visa-free travel?
According to the HPI, as of 18 July 2023, the top five passports in terms of visa-free travel are:
- Singapore, with a visa-free score of 192
- Germany, Italy, and Spain, with a visa-free score of 190
- United Kingdom, Finland, France, Japan, and Sweden, with a visa-free score of 189
- Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Denmark, with a visa-free score of 188
- United States of America, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, and Norway, with a visa-free score of 187
Here is a table for the August 2023 HPI top 20 countries with visa score:
|2||Germany, Italy, Spain||190|
|3||United Kingdom, Finland, France, Japan, Sweden||189|
|4||Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark||188|
|5||United States of America, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Norway||187|
|6||Australia, Portugal, Malta, Switzerland, New Zealand||186|
|8||Hungary, Czech Republic||184|
|10||Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Slovakia, Iceland||182|
|11||Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia||181|
|15||United Arab Emirates||174|
|16||Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia||173|
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says only eight countries worldwide have less visa-free access today than they did a decade ago, while others have been more successful in securing greater travel freedom for their citizens.
He said: ‘The UAE has added an impressive 107 destinations to its visa-free score since 2013, resulting in a massive leap of 44 places in the ranking over the past 10 years from 56th to 12th position. This is almost double the next biggest climber, Colombia, which has enjoyed a jump of 28 places in the ranking to sit in 37th spot.