Which passport is the most powerful in the world?

Which passport is the most powerful in the world?
Copyright REUTERS/Yuya Shino
Copyright REUTERS/Yuya Shino
By Pascale Davies
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Japan’s passport has overtaken Singapore’s as the most powerful in the world.


Japan has taken the top spot in issuing the world’s most powerful passport, taking over from Singapore, which came second. It means holding a Japanese passport will get you visa-free travel or visa on arrival to 189 destinations.

While if you hold a passport from Singapore or Germany, which both ranked second, you can get into 188 territories without a visa or with visa on arrival.

Third place is shared by six countries including South Korea, and five European nations —Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

The ranking by Henley&Partners takes into account how many countries can be visited without applying for a visa.

The report found that despite fears over what Brexit will mean for UK passport holders, there was little to no change for Britain. There was also not much change in the US’ ranking, despite new border policies. Both the UK and the US sit in fourth place alongside other European nations such as Portugal and the Netherlands.

This year’s fastest overall climber is the UAE, it went up 38 places since 2008 and now ranks 23rd in the world. It has secured more new visa-waivers for its citizens this year than any other jurisdiction in the world and gained access to eight new countries including China, Ireland, and Burkina Faso.

The UAE is also quickly closing in on Israel, in 19th place, which has historically held the lead in the Middle East.

Iraq and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the list, with their passport holders only granted visa-free travel in 30 countries.

The Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association, surveys a total of 199 different passports against 227 different travel destinations, including countries, territories, and micro-states.

“The countries that perform well on the index are those that are embracing new models of global citizenship and adapting to, rather than shrinking away from, an increasingly globalized world,” said Dr Christian H. Kälin, chairman of Henley & Partners.

“The benefits do not only flow one way.” He adds, “foreign direct investment generated by investment migration programs, results in fresh capital inflows to both the public and private sector, helping to stimulate socio-economic growth and development.”

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