These are the world’s most powerful passports in 2023

The passport of a country determines the freedom of travel enjoyed by its citizens. Singapore’s passport has free access to more destinations – namely 192 (out of 227 in the world) – than any other travel document, according to the 2023 Henley Passport Index, which was released on Tuesday. Free access means visa-free entries and unbureaucratic visa issuance on arrival.

Singapore’s passport is now the most powerful in the world. For five years it was Japan, which now only ranks third.

The Henley Passport Index, a ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, is published annually by the London law firm Henley & Partners. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association, a trade association of the world’s airlines.

German citizens are allowed to travel to 190 countries and territories without first applying for a visa, according to the report. This puts Germany’s passport in second place in the current Henley Passport Index – just like Italy and Spain, whose passports also open 190 borders.

Japan shares the third place with Finland, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, South Korea and Austria. With the passports of these countries, citizens enter 189 states without having to apply for a visa beforehand.

While the UK passport is now back in fourth place after falling for several years in the ranking – two ranks better than last year – the US passport is reportedly not performing well. “The US drops further by two ranks to eighth place, continuing its slide,” a statement on the ranking said. It is possible to travel to 184 countries with a US passport without applying for a visa.

Afghanistan is still at the bottom of the ranking. With an Afghan passport, you can only enter 27 countries without a visa. Just ahead are Iraq (29 countries) and Syria (30 countries).

The world’s passports are not equal. Travellers from rich countries enjoy extensive travel freedom across the globe, whereas citizens of less developed nations are subject to stringent visa controls, whether for short trips or long-term migration. This international regime of visa restrictions is mostly shaped by the efforts of rich countries to prevent unwanted immigration.

For 18 years, Henley & Partners has continuously listed the most powerful passports in the world. “The trend is towards greater freedom to travel,” the firm said. The average number of countries to which people can travel without a visa has almost doubled since 2006: back then, the average was 58 countries, today it is 109.

Sola Jolaoso

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