These are the world’s most powerful passports

Japan and Singapore claim top spot

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 12 January 2022 08:17 GMT
The Japanese passport is one of the strongest in the world, according to Henley & Partners
The Japanese passport is one of the strongest in the world, according to Henley & Partners (iStock)

The world’s most powerful passports have been revealed in a new ranking.

Japan and Singapore jointly claim the top spot in the latest iteration of the Henley Passport Index, released by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.

The report scores 199 countries’ passports on how many destinations holders can visit without needing to secure a visa in advance.

Japanese and Singaporean passport holders can, in theory, access 192 nations apiece visa-free, or by getting a visa on arrival.

However, in practice this number may be lower – the index isn’t taking into account temporary travel bans and restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the first passport index of 2022 ranked South Korea and Germany in second place (with a score of 190); Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain in tied third place (with a score of 189); and Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden in fourth place (with a score of 188). The latter three have all climbed one place since the last index.

Ireland and Portugal are in joint fifth (with a score of 187).

The UK and the US have both risen a spot since the previous ranking and are now in sixth place, alongside Switzerland, Norway, Belgium and New Zealand.

At the lower end of the spectrum, Afghanistan sits at the bottom of the ranking, with a score of just 26 countries accessible visa-free or with visa on arrival for passport holders.

The index noted that, although travel has opened up extensively in the last decade – in 2006, travellers could access 57 countries visa-free on average, compared to 107 today – most of these benefits have been enjoyed by Europe, North America and affluent Asian nations.

“Passports and visas are among the most important instruments impacting on social inequality worldwide as they determine opportunities for global mobility,” Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners and creator of the passport index concept, said in the latest report.

“The borders within which we happen to be born, and the documents we are entitled to hold, are no less arbitrary than our skin colour.

“Wealthier states need to encourage positive inward migration in an effort to help redistribute and rebalance human and material resources worldwide.”

Most powerful passports for 2022

  1. Japan, Singapore (192)
  2. Germany, South Korea (190)
  3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189)
  4. Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Sweden (188)
  5. Ireland, Portugal (187)
  6. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (186)
  7. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185)
  8. Poland, Hungary (183)
  9. Lithuania, Slovakia (182)
  10. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia (181)

Least powerful passports for 2022

  1. Sudan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon (41)
  2. Libya, Kosovo, Bangladesh (40)
  3. North Korea (39)
  4. Nepal, Palestinian territories (37)
  5. Somalia (34)
  6. Yemen (33)
  7. Pakistan (31)
  8. Syria (29)
  9. Iraq (28)
  10. Afghanistan (26)

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