Japan has slipped two spots to third place among the most powerful passports, with Singapore now taking pole position in the newly-updated global ranking. But what exactly makes a passport powerful?
Immigration consultancy Henley & Partners, which produces the quarterly 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.
Singaporean passport holders can access an impressive 192 countries sans a full visa, narrowing besting Germany, Italy and Spain in equal second place at 190. Australia is only a little further down the list in sixth place with entry to 186 countries.
Here are the ratings for the coveted top ten spots on the world’s most powerful passports for 2023.
1. Singapore (192)
2. Germany, Italy, Spain (190)
3. Austria, Finland, France, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea, Sweden (189)
4. Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom (188)
5. Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland (187)
6. Australia, Hungary, Poland (186)
7. Canada, Greece (185)
8. Lithuania, United States (184)
9. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (183)
10. Estonia, Iceland (182)
Henley & Partners rate a Singaporean passport as providing hassle-free entry to some 192 countries as of July 2023, two more than those from Germany, Italy and Spain.
Japan is now tied in third place at 189 countries offering visa-free entry, with the UK and Ireland ranking fourth (188 visa-free countries); New Zealand sits among the counties in fifth place, followed by Australia, Hungary and Poland in the sixth spot on the global leaderboard.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the index, 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.
Of the countries sitting in the Top 10, the US has seen the smallest increase in its score on the Henley Passport Index over the past decade, securing visa-free access to just 12 additional destinations between 2013 and 2023.
Singapore, by comparison, has increased its score by 25, pushing it five places up the ranking over the past 10 years to number one spot.
The index, which uses 18 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.