Here are the world’s most powerful passports for 2019

By Brandon Loo, July 4 2019
Here are the world’s most powerful passports for 2019

Singapore continues to share the crown of ‘World’s Most Powerful Passport’ with incumbent nation Japan, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.

As of 1 July 2019, both Japanese and Singaporean passport holders can travel to 189 countries hassle-free, without the need for a visa.

In second place sits South Korea, Germany and Finland, which grants access to 187 other countries visa-free.

The ranks of third to eighth are shared by seventeen European countries, plus Canada, the USA and the UK all in sixth place with 183 countries open to their passports.

Australia is parked in ninth place alongside New Zealand, Iceland and Lithuania, with visa-free access to 180 countries – this was previously 183 in October 2018.

Trailing the bottom of the pack is Afghanistan, whose citizens can only access 25 other countries without a visa, down from 30 in October 2018.

So what makes a 'powerful passport'? Essentially, it's one that lets any ordinary citizen visit and enter other countries without needing to apply for a full visa with the government beforehand.

This includes situations where a visa isn't required, or if travellers can easily obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor's permit or an electronic travel authority in the case of visa-waiver programs, like between Australia and the USA.

The more countries one can enter with a passport in this fashion, the more 'powerful' it is considered to be.

Travelling on an Australian Passport

For Australian travellers, our passports afford us relatively good freedom when journeying abroad.

However, there are still a few destinations where either a visa is required beforehand or a fee has to be paid on arrival, such as China and Chile.

China generally requires tourists and business travellers to apply for a visa beforehand. But they allow a 144-hour ‘Transit Without Visa’ if you are heading onwards to another destination.

Chile charges a ‘reciprocity’ fee of US$117 ($166) to Australian travellers arriving in Santiago by air, although it’s technically still visa-free access and the Henley Passport Index considers it as such.

Even entry into the USA and Canada usually requires an electronic 'visa waiver permit', which involves you filling out an application and paying a fee – US$14 ($20) for an ESTA, or CA$7 ($7.60) for an eTA.

The majority of the 180 countries that Australians can travel to visa-free will generally allow a stay of 90 days/3 months, although it can vary between 7 days to 6 months.

For example, Aussie travellers within the European ‘Schengen Area’ are allowed to stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day period for business or leisure, visa-free.

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 26

As USA and Canada along with Australia require what is in effect a pre-departure electronic entry permit, these are to all intent a Visa.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 98

I'd have to agree with Kentown45 on this, an ETA is a Visa in another name. I'm sure there will be someone who will helpfully point out the technical difference, but for all practical purposes they are.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2012

Total posts 120

I strongly disagree with that

USA and Canada require filing an online permit, which involves filing a simple form, with permission granted within a few hours.

It does not in any way compare with an in-person trip to a consulate, with a heap of documents detailing someone’s employment details, printouts of their bank account and proof of property ownership, plus several days/weeks of waiting to collect one’s passport, which is required from citizens of many countries who want to visit visiting US/Canada/Australia.

PS: FYI - the process of obtaining electronic visas that Australian have to follow to visit US/Canada was in fact first invented and introduced by Australia.
Canada/EU/US/Japan etc citizens have been required to apply for electronic visas to enter Australia for more than a decade now.


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

So you agree, ESTA is a Visa in every way except name, going by your PS.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 232

If Henley changed their criteria to include e-visas then we jump up a bit because e-visas then gives us access to Turkey, Suriname, India, Ukraine, Pakistan, Angola, Benin, Ivory Coast, sorry, I mean Côte d'Ivoire, Oman, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Myanmar and I think even Vietnam has got their act together on this now.
With e-Visas likely to become more prominent I think Henley will need to create 3 lists - countries you need a paper visa for, countries you get a visa for on arrival (or by waiver) and visas you need to get electronically.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 175

So what 3 countries did Australia lose visa free access to between October 2018 and now?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 15

The USA 'visa-waiver' isn't a visa as it only allows you 'travel' to the USA for 2 years (what country gives you a visa for that long?) and upon arrival, the immigration officer can decline you entry if he or she doesn't like something about you or about your trip.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Feb 2016

Total posts 22

The need to preapply for the US is nothing compared with the time and hassle for people with Asian passports wanting a visa to visit Australia, Canada, etc. We don't realise how lucky we are. I have an Apec business travel card that makes it all a breeze.

ESTA and all electronic visa or visa waiver systems are visa’s in another name. All can allow a country to reject entry. On the other hand I suspect what is being focus on here is not if it’s a visa or not, but how easy or difficult is it to enter a country. If you have to give up your passport for a day to get a visa, as normally occurs for India, then that’s a high impact visa. If you have to remember to fill out a e-visa form then that’s reasonably low impact and if you can just turn up and enter, which is normally the case for Thailand, then that’s ideal. As a result ESTA is a low impact method to get into a country and counts for goodness. Australia is a very hard country to enter. I recently tried to have a business meeting in Sydney and could not get staff from Rumania into Australia, so in future I will stay with easier countries, such as China. On the other hand the VPN blocking there is getting annoying so perhaps not. I am still annoyed they cancelled by pre-paid mobile because the account lacked sufficient identification, which is true but that was its major benefit. It was an old account before they requested identification, sigh.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Here are the world’s most powerful passports for 2019