For the first time in five years, Japan no longer has the world’s most powerful passport.
In a new global ranking, Singapore takes the top spot, with its citizens able to visit 192 countries out of 227 visa-free.
Germany, Italy and Spain move up into second place, with visa-free access to 190 destinations. Japan has been bumped into third place, a slot it occupies with six other nations – Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden. Citizens of these countries can all visit 189 destinations without a prior visa.
The UK, meanwhile, in the previous six years, has jumped up two places to fourth place, a position it last held in 2017. Its citizens – along with those from Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands – can visit 188 countries visa-free.
The U.S, on the other hand, continues its now decade-long slide down the index, slipping a further two places to eighth, with access to 184 countries visa-free. The UK and the U.S jointly held first place on the index in 2014, but have been on a broadly downward trajectory ever since.
Australia comes in at sixth, with visa-free access to 186 countries.
The ranking has been produced by the Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata). It analyses how many countries a passport holder can enter without a prior visa.
Afghanistan remains entrenched at the bottom of the index, with a visa-free access score of just 27, followed by Iraq (29), and Syria (30) – the three weakest passports in the world.
A statement added: ‘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 are able to 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 it has ever been, with top-ranked Singapore able to access 165 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan.’
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, 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.