World Most Powerful Passports for 2023

In 2023, a singular passport claims the pinnacle of privilege, symbolising unrivalled global access and leading international travel. As nations demonstrate passport strength, this distinguished document sets a new standard, redefining the forefront of travel freedom.

World Most Powerful Passports for 2023a

Methodology of Passport Ranking by the Henley Passport Index

The Henley Passport Index is a quarterly ranking of the world's most powerful passports, assessing their global mobility based on visa-free access. Global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners has been conducting this index for 18 years, utilising data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Passports are ranked according to the number of destinations their holders can access without requiring a visa. Countries earn one point for each destination that passport holders can visit without a visa, including cases where they can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor's permit, or an electronic travel authority (ETA) upon entry.

Notably, destinations requiring a visa or where passport holders must obtain a government-approved e-visa before departure do not contribute to the overall score, reflecting the true extent of visa-free travel capability.

Trends in Travel Freedom and Passport Inequality

The Passport Index reveals a global trend of increasing travel freedom, with notable developments over the years. The average number of countries accessible to travellers without a visa has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023.

Encouragingly, only eight countries have witnessed a decline in visa-free access over the past decade, underlining the overall positive trajectory. Remarkably, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced a substantial increase in visa-free access, gaining entry to 107 additional destinations since 2013. This achievement elevated the UAE from 56th to 12th place in the rankings. Similarly, Colombia made significant progress, climbing from 65th to 37th place.

Noteworthy improvements in passport rankings over the last decade include Ukraine and China, both securing positions among the top 10 most improved passports. Despite these positive trends, the data also indicates a growing disparity between the most and least powerful passports, emphasising the widening gap in global passport inequality.

Examining Openness and Visa-Free Access

Comparing two passport indexes, it becomes evident that a high level of openness does not necessarily translate to extensive visa-free access to other countries. Singapore and South Korea, both characterised by relative openness, have seen improvements in the Passport Index, whereas the USA and Canada have witnessed declines, indicating stagnation in their openness.

Despite the United States holding a passport allowing visa-free access to 184 out of 227 destinations, only 44 nationalities enjoy visa-free access to the US. Notably, European Union (EU) states grant visa-free privileges to more than double the number of states compared to the US.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan emerge as the top five countries with the most significant disparity between the travel freedom their citizens enjoy and the visa-free access they extend to other nations.

Countries such as Somalia, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Burundi, and Nepal stand out as examples where high levels of openness coexist with possessing less powerful passports, underlining the nuanced relationship between openness and global visa-free access.

Top 10 Most Powerful Passports in 2023

  1. Singapore (192 locations)
  2. Germany, Italy, Spain (190 locations)
  3. Japan, Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden (189 locations)
  4. UK, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands (188 locations)
  5. Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland (187 locations)
  6. Australia, Hungary, and Poland (186 locations)
  7. Canada and Greece (185 locations)
  8. Lithuania and United States (184 locations)
  9. Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia (183 locations)
  10. Estonia and Iceland (182 locations)

Least Favourable Passports

  1. Syria - 30 destinations
  2. Iraq - 29 destinations
  3. Afghanistan - 27 destinations

Singapore Surpasses Japan in Passport Power

In a notable turn of events, Singapore has reclaimed the title of holding the world's most powerful passport. Singaporean passport holders can now enjoy visa-free travel to an impressive 192 destinations worldwide, surpassing Japan's 189 visa-free destinations

The Henley Passport Index

The Henley Passport Index is a globally recognized ranking system that evaluates passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a visa.

Factors Driving Singapore's Ascent

Singapore's ascent to the top of the passport power rankings can be attributed to several key factors:

  • Robust Diplomatic Ties: Singapore's strong diplomatic relationships with other nations have led to a surge in new visa-free agreements in recent years. This diplomatic finesse has played a pivotal role in expanding visa-free travel options for Singaporean passport holders.
  • Thriving Economy: Singapore boasts a vibrant and dynamic economy that is anchored in trade, finance, and technology. This economic prowess has made Singapore an attractive destination for businesses and investors worldwide, further enhancing the allure of its passport.
  • Stable Political Environment: Singapore's political landscape is characterised by stability, good governance, and the rule of law. This conducive environment has fostered confidence among individuals and businesses, contributing to the country's reputation as a secure and desirable destination.

Diplomatic Relationships Yielding Results

Singapore's passport power is also a reflection of its close relationships with other countries. The country maintains strong diplomatic ties with its Southeast Asian neighbours, as well as with major powers like the United States, China, and Japan. These diplomatic ties have been instrumental in securing visa-free agreements for Singaporean passport holders.

Positive Impact on Economy and Tourism

With visa-free access to an expanded number of countries, Singaporean passport holders will find it easier to conduct business and travel for leisure. This is likely to stimulate Singapore's economy and attract more tourists to the country.

Germany, Italy and Spain Jointly Secure 2nd

Germany, Italy, and Spain have all experienced a significant increase in their passport power, collectively securing the second most powerful passport in the world. This remarkable achievement underscores the growing strength and influence of European passports on the global stage.

The ability to travel freely without the need for a visa is a valuable asset, opening up a world of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Citizens of Germany, Italy, and Spain now enjoy visa-free entry to a staggering 190 countries, placing them among the most privileged travellers in the world.

This newfound passport power is a testament to the strong diplomatic relations and economic partnerships that these European nations have cultivated over the years. Their passports serve as symbols of trust and cooperation, facilitating seamless movement across borders and fostering closer ties with countries worldwide.

The rise of European passport power is a positive development for global mobility and cultural exchange. It allows individuals to explore new horizons, expand their networks, and contribute to a more interconnected world. As European passports continue to gain prominence, we can expect to see even greater levels of cross-cultural collaboration and understanding.

Japan Slides to 3rd Place and Tied with 6 Countries

Japan's passport has dropped down to 3rd place in the Henley Passport Index, which ranks the world's passports based on the number of destinations their holders can travel to without a visa or with a visa on arrival. This is the first time that Japan's passport has not been ranked in the top 2 since the index was first published in 2006.

Japan is now tied with 6 other countries for 3rd place: Finland, France, Austria, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden. These passports all provide easy access to 189 destinations.

There are a number of possible reasons for Japan's decline in the ranking. One possibility is that other countries have been more proactive in negotiating visa-free agreements with other countries. Another possibility is that Japan's passport has become less attractive to other countries due to factors such as Japan's recent economic slowdown and its nuclear program.

Impact of Japan's passport ranking

Japan's passport ranking is important because it can affect the ease of travel for Japanese citizens. A higher ranking means that Japanese citizens can travel to more countries without a visa, which can save them time and money. It can also make it easier for Japanese businesses to expand into new markets.

UK Ascends as US Holds 8th Position

The UK's passport has regained ground by moving up 2 spots to 4th place in the Henley Passport Index. This is a significant improvement from its previous ranking of 6th place.

The UK is now tied with 3 other countries for 4th place: Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands. These passports all provide easy access to 184 destinations.

The US passport has remained in 8th place in the Henley Passport Index. This is a slight decline from its previous ranking of 7th place.

US passport holders can travel to 184 countries without a visa. This is still a significant number of countries, but it is less than the number of countries that UK, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands passport holders can visit without a visa.

There are a number of possible reasons why the US passport has declined in the ranking. One possibility is that other countries have been more proactive in negotiating visa-free agreements with other countries. Another possibility is that the US passport has become less attractive to other countries due to factors such as the US's recent political climate and its travel restrictions.

Afghanistan Passport Remains in Last Place

Afghanistan's passport remains in last place in the Henley Passport Index, with only 27 countries allowing visa-free access. This is a reflection of the country's political and economic instability.

Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan also rank near the bottom of the Henley Passport Index. These countries all face similar challenges to Afghanistan,such as political instability, terrorism, and poverty.

A country's passport ranking can have a significant impact on its citizens' mobility. Passport holders from countries with high passport rankings can travel to more countries without a visa, which can save them time and money. It can also make it easier for them to find work and study abroad unlike the passport holders from countries with low passport ranking.

2023 Report Highlights on Global Travel Trends

Over the past 18 years, there has been a steady increase in travel freedom. This is evident in the fact that the average number of visa-free destinations for global travellers has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023

This trend is likely due to a number of factors, such as the ongoing globalisation of the world economy, the increasing popularity of international tourism, and the rise of new technologies that make it easier for people to travel and connect with each other.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a significant climber in the Henley Passport Index. Since 2013, the UAE has added 107 visa-free destinations to its passport, and it has catapulted 44 places in the rankings. This is a remarkable achievement, and it is a testament to the UAE's efforts to improve its global standing and attract more visitors and investors.

In addition to the UAE, a number of other countries have made surprising gains in the Henley Passport Index. These countries include Colombia, Ukraine, and China. These countries have all made significant efforts to improve their relations with other countries, and they have also benefited from the growth of their economies and their increasing role in the global economy.

Debut of the Openness Index in 2023

In a significant development, Henley & Partners has introduced the Openness Index for the first time in 2023. This index assesses a country's opennessto foreigners by examining the number of nationalities it permits entry to without a prior visa. This unique index complements the well-established Henley Passport Index, which measures the travel freedom of a country's citizens.

The Openness Index reveals a strong correlation between a country's openness to foreigners and the travel freedom afforded to its citizens. The 20 "most open" nations, predominantly small island states and African countries, demonstrate this connection. Remarkably, 12 of these countries have achieved complete openness, offering visa-free entry to all 198 passports in the world. This openness to diverse global citizens contributes to their enhanced travel freedom.

The Openness Index underscores the stark disparity in travel freedom and border policies around the world. While some countries embrace openness and facilitate global mobility, others maintain stricter visa requirements, potentially hindering international engagement and travel opportunities.

Least Favourable Passports

  1. Afghanistan - 27 destinations
  2. Iraq (29 destinations)
  3. Syria (30 destinations)
  4. Pakistan (33 destinations)
  5. Yemen and Somalia (35 destinations)
  6. Palestine and Nepal (38 destinations)
  7. North Korea (39 destinations)
  8. Bangladesh (40 destinations)
  9. Libya and Sri Lanka (41 destinations)
  10. Kosovo (42 destinations)

Having the least favourable passports places citizens of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan in challenging positions regarding international travel. 

  • Afghanistan (27 destinations)

Afghanistan holds the unfortunate title of having the weakest passport globally, providing its citizens with visa-free access to only 27 destinations. This stark contrast highlights the substantial travel restrictions faced by Afghan passport holders compared to the leading passport, Singapore.

  • Iraq (29 destinations)

Following closely, Iraq secures the second position with visa-free access to 29 destinations. The limited number of accessible countries underscores the challenges faced by Iraqi passport holders in international travel.

  • Syria (30 destinations)

Syria ranks third among the countries with the least powerful passports, allowing its citizens visa-free access to just 30 destinations. The ongoing geopolitical situation in the region contributes to the restricted travel options for Syrian passport holders.

  • Pakistan (33 destinations)

With visa-free access to 33 destinations, Pakistan faces constraints in global travel, reflecting challenges in diplomatic relations and geopolitical factors affecting the strength of its passport.

  • Yemen and Somalia (35 destinations)

Both Yemen and Somalia share the fifth spot with visa-free access to 35 destinations each. These countries encounter limitations that impact the international mobility of their citizens.

  • Palestine and Nepal (38 destinations)

Palestine and Nepal occupy the sixth position, offering their passport holders visa-free access to 38 destinations. The rankings shed light on the diplomatic considerations influencing travel privileges.

  • North Korea (39 destinations)

North Korea ranks seventh, allowing visa-free access to 39 destinations. The isolated nature of the country contributes to the restricted global travel opportunities for its citizens.

  • Bangladesh (40 destinations)

Bangladesh follows closely, securing the eighth position with visa-free access to 40 destinations. The passport strength reflects the diplomatic standing and global relations of the country.

  • Libya and Sri Lanka (41 destinations)

Libya and Sri Lanka share the ninth spot with visa-free access to 41 destinations each. These rankings underline the varying degrees of global mobility experienced by passport holders from different regions.

  • Kosovo (42 destinations)

Kosovo rounds off the bottom of the ranking, providing its citizens with visa-free access to 42 destinations. The geopolitical status of Kosovo influences the strength of its passport on the global stage.

These rankings illuminate the disparities in travel freedom and highlight the impact of geopolitical factors, diplomatic relations, and regional stability on the strength of passports across different nations.


What does it mean for a passport to be crowned the "world's strongest"?

Being dubbed the "world's strongest" passport implies that the passport provides its holders with the greatest degree of visa-free access and ease of travel to various countries globally.

How was the strength of the US passport determined for 2023?

The strength of the US passport is typically determined based on the number of countries its holders can visit without requiring a visa, providing a measure of the passport's global mobility and influence.

Which countries does the US passport offer visa-free access to in 2023?

The specific list of countries offering visa-free access to US passport holders in 2023 can be obtained from official government sources or international travel databases, reflecting the diplomatic agreements and global standing of the United States.

How does the strength of the US passport compare to previous years?

A comparison with previous years' passport rankings can provide insights into any improvements or declines in the strength of the US passport, indicating changes in diplomatic relations or visa policies.

Are there any factors contributing to the strength of the US passport in 2023?

The strength of the US passport is influenced by factors such as diplomatic agreements, international relations, and visa policies, which may be shaped by geopolitical developments and bilateral negotiations.

Which passports rank closest to the US in terms of strength for 2023?

Information on passports closely ranked to the US in strength can be found in official passport indices, offering a comparative view of global passport standings for the current year.

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