The Henley Passport Index, which uses data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to rank the world’s best passports, has given its verdict. In what could be a big win for Asia, Europe and the United States have failed to seize the top spots.
For the fifth year running, Japan’s passport has been ranked as the strongest in the world. Japan’s visa-free or visa-on-arrival policy gives its people access to 193 nations, or 85% of the world’s countries, making the Japanese passport the most powerful in the world.
According to the most recent research from Henley Passport Index, Japan is followed by two more Asian nations — Singapore and South Korea. The citizens of these two countries can travel unrestricted to 192 other nations worldwide.
Regarding freedom of international travel, the Henley Passport Index places three Asian nations ahead of Europe and the US. The passport index lists Germany and Spain below Japan, Singapore, and South Korea as their citizens can travel to 190 different states.
Moreover, the citizens of three other European countries, including Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg, don’t require visas for entry into 189 countries. Some other developed countries with massive muscle power feature even lower on the list.
For instance, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden are tied for fifth place, followed by France, Ireland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, ranked sixth overall.
The world’s most powerful country, the United States, has been pushed even lower at number seven. Some other western states, including Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand, share that position.
Lowest Rankings Also Taken By Asian Countries
While Asian countries have bagged the top rankings, the lowest rankings were also taken by Asian states. For instance, Asian superpower China, which has been at loggerheads with the West, has been ranked lower at 66, sharing the spot with the Latin American country of Bolivia. Citizens of both countries have unrestricted access to 80 countries.
Moving over, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India, is ranked 85th. Indian citizens are allowed visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival facilities in about 59 countries—including Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Egypt.
While one of the two Koreas achieved the second spot in the ranking, North Korea was at least 100 positions lower. At 102, North Korea is among the lowest on the list, and North Koreans only have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 40 countries.
Citizens of Palestine ranked even lower at 103, and its citizens have unrestricted access to just 38 countries. The Israeli government has designated several Palestinians suspected of having links with the Hamas group as terrorists.
The South Asian country plagued by economic difficulties and civil unrest, Pakistan ranks 106, and its citizens have visa-free access to just 32 countries.
Middle Eastern countries plagued by civil unrest and terrorism have taken the brunt in the overall ranking. For instance, Yemen has been placed at number 105, and the citizens of this war-torn country have access to just 34 destinations.
It is pertinent to note that Yemen has been at war for more than seven years, with warring sides supported by Iran and the coalition of UAE and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
The second and third worst passports to own, respectively, were those from Iraq and Syria-both of which remain mired in civil unrest. Both countries have had political and military unrest for several years, giving birth to some of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world.
Lastly, Afghan nationals remain at the bottom of the index once more and are only permitted entry into 27 nations without a prior visa. The situation is expected to get dire as the Taliban continues its campaign of human rights violations and denying fundamental rights to women.
Henley & Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, noted on its website, “At the bottom of the ranking, the Afghanistan passport provides visa-free access to only 12% of the world and less than 1% of global economic output.”
The Henley & Partner index is just one of many produced by financial companies to rate international passports according to the access they give their citizens. According to the most recent index, based on statistics from the International Air Transport Association, worldwide travel is currently at about 75% of pre-pandemic levels (IATA).
With the Asia-Pacific opening up following the pandemic, its people are more likely to use that freedom to travel again.
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