SINGAPORE, 20 July 2023: Japan has been knocked off the top spot on the Henley Passport Index for the first time in five years and bumped to third place, according to the latest ranking, which is based on exclusive official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Singapore is now officially the most powerful passport in the world, with its citizens able to visit 192 travel destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free. Germany, Italy, and Spain all move up into second place with visa-free access to 190 destinations, and Japanese passport holders join those of six other nations — Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden — in third place with access to189 destinations without a prior visa.
Thailand languishes in 64th place, with its citizens eligible for visa-free travel to 79 countries or territories, but it did better than Indonesia (69 with 73 destinations). Malaysia was the highest ranked in ASEAN after Singapore (top worldwide ranking), gaining the 11th rank with 180 visa-free destinations. Brunei registered 20th with 166 visa-free destinations. The Philippines passport ranked 74 gets you visa-free travel to 66 destinations. As for the rest of ASEAN, Vietnam and Cambodia shared the 82nd space. Laos registered at 87, and Myanmar managed 89th place.
The UK appears to have finally turned the corner after a six-year decline, jumping up two places on the latest ranking to fourth place — a position it last held in 2017. On the other hand, the US continues its decade-long slide down the index, plummeting a further two places to the 8th spot with access to just 184 destinations visa-free. The UK and the US jointly held 1st place on the index nearly 10 years ago in 2014 but have been on a downward trajectory ever since. Afghanistan remains entrenched at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, with a visa-free access score of just 27, followed by Iraq (score of 29) and Syria (score of 30) — the three weakest passports in the world.
The general trend over the history of the 18-year-old ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, with the average number of destinations travellers can access visa-free nearly doubling from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. However, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever, with top-ranked Singapore able to access 165 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan. Check your country’s ranking here: Henley Passport Index,
America’s diminishing passport power
Of the countries 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 the number one spot.
Links between visa-free access and openness
Henley & Partners has researched the relationship between a country’s openness to foreigners — how many nations it allows to cross its borders visa-free — and its citizens’ travel freedom, gauged using the Henley Passport Index. The new Henley Openness Index ranks all 199 countries worldwide according to the number of nationalities they permit entry to without a prior visa.
The Top 20 ‘most open’ countries are all small island nations or African states, except Cambodia. Twelve completely open countries offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to all 198 passports in the world (not counting their own), namely: Burundi, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Maldives, Micronesia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu.
At the bottom of the Henley Openness Index, four countries score zero, permitting no visa-free access for any passport: namely, Afghanistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, and Turkmenistan. They are followed by five countries that provide visa-free access to fewer than five other nationalities: namely, Libya, Bhutan, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and India.