Japan, Singapore and South Korea have the most powerful passports as the world continues to recover from Covid-19, reversing pre-pandemic rankings that were dominated by European nations.
But just what makes a passport powerful? Immigration consultancy Henley & Partners, which produces the Henley Passport Index, measures a passport’s might by how many countries an ordinary citizen can enter without needing to apply for a full visa with the government beforehand.
This includes situations where no visa is required or where travellers can easily obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit or some form of electronic travel authority in the case of visa-waiver programs such as the USA’s ESTA.
Henley & Partners rate a Japanese passport as providing hassle-free entry to some 193 countries as of 2022, one more than those from Singapore and South Korea.
Germany and Span tied in third place with 190 counties offering visa-free entry, with the UK and Ireland ranking sixth (187 vida-free countries); New Zealand and the USA sit among the counties in seventh place, followed by Australia and Canada in the eight spot on the global leaderboard.
Russian travel documents are ranked 50th, giving easy access to 119 nations. China placed 69th with access to 80 countries, India’s passport ranked 87th and Afghanistan’s passport is the least useful, getting the holder into only 27 countries.
“The recovery and reclamation of our travel freedoms, and our innate instinct to move and migrate, will take time,” Henley & Partners Chairman Christian Kaelin said in a statement.
As recently as 2017, Asian countries barely featured among the world’s 10 most-accepted passports, according to the index. Europe’s domination has gradually eased and Germany now trails South Korea. The UK is sixth with access to 187 countries, while the US is seventh with a score of 186, the latest ranking shows.
The index, which uses 17 years of data, helps wealthy individuals and governments assess the value of citizenships around the world based on which passports offer the most prolific visa-free, or visa-on-arrival access.
Still, with global travel yet to fully recover from Covid restrictions, the index offers only a notional snapshot of the best documents to hold as the world emerges from the pandemic.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
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