Japan has most powerful passport - but it’s meaningless during Covid

In normal times, Japanese citizens would be able to visit 191 countries visa-free

Qin Xie
Thursday 07 January 2021 09:48 GMT
Japan has the most powerful passport again
Japan has the most powerful passport again

The most powerful passports in the world have been named and Japan has taken the top spot for the third consecutive year.

The list has been created by the Henley Passport Index (HPI) using data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), with rankings determined by the number of countries a nation’s passport holder can travel to without needing a visa.

Without factoring in coronavirus travel restrictions, Japanese citizens are currently able to travel to 191 countries visa-free. It’s followed closely by Singapore, whose citizens are able to travel to 190 countries.

Coming in joint third place are Germany and South Korea, both offering citizens visa-free travel to 189 countries.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of nations in Europe, as well as New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada.

According to HPI, the increasing number of Asia Pacific countries in the rankings “is a relatively new phenomenon” as the list has traditionally been dominated by EU countries as well as the UK and the US.

Some experts believe that this trend will continue as the same countries are also among the first to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The index also highlighted the extreme effects of the pandemic, rendering much of the ranking meaningless.

For example, while ordinarily UK passport holders are able to travel to 185 countries visa free, this is currently fewer than 70 with many borders around the world still closed.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, creator of the index, said: “Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and that holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before.

“The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic.”

The top 10 most powerful passports

  1. Japan (191)
  2. Singapore, (190)  
  3. Germany, South Korea (189)
  4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (188)
  5. Austria, Denmark (187)
  6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (186)
  7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (185)
  8. Australia, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (184)
  9. Canada (183)
  10. Hungary (182)

The top 10 least powerful passports

  1. Afghanistan (26)
  2. Iraq (28)
  3. Syria (29)
  4. Pakistan (32)
  5. Somalia, Yemen (33)
  6. Palestinian Territory (37)
  7. Libya, Nepal (38)
  8. North Korea (39)
  9. Kosovo, Lebanon, Sudan (40)
  10. Bangladesh, Iran (41)

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