The fight for the title of the world’s most powerful passport has got more interesting. There have been many changes since the start of 2023. While one Asia country still takes the No. 1 position, many European countries has risen to the occasion.
The Henley Passport Index will tell us all about the new developments, all based on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). It’s a powerful database to refer to when you want to know where your passport stands. There’s even a helpful tool called “My Passport” to see which countries require a visa for your citizenship.
Let’s discover who the new title holder is and who are rebounding in Q3 2023. Out of 199 passports, can you guess which one make the cut?
The Most Powerful Passports In The World
What are the top 10 most powerful passports? Here is your answer in Q3 2023:
- Singapore (192 destinations)
- Germany, Italy & Spain (190 destinations)
- Austria, Finland, France, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea & Sweden (189 destinations)
- Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom (188 destinations)
- Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal & Switzerland (187 destinations)
- Australia, Hungary & Poland (186 destinations)
- Canada & Greece (185 destinations)
- Lithuania & United States (184 destinations)
- Latvia, Slovakia & Slovenia (183 destinations)
- Estonia & Iceland (182 destinations).
Singapore Hold The Most Powerful Passport In The World
The Southeast Asian country has finally dethroned Japan's No. 1 position after five long years. As holders of the most powerful passport in the world, Singaporeans can visit 192 destinations visa-free. This means they can travel up to 85% of the globe without the hassle of obtaining a visa!
Germany, Italy, And Spain Passports Takes The Second Spot
With visa-free and visa-on-arrival countries 190, the three European countries rank second in the Henley Passport Power score this summer. They’ve been consistently in the top 5 ranks for the past decade but never made it this far. So this is most definitely great news for passport holders from these countries.
Japan Joins Seven Other Countries In The Third Place
Japan dropping to third place is the biggest change we’ve seen in recent years yet. The nation is tied with one Asia country (South Korea) and six European countries (Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, and Sweden). There are 189 destinations that offer visa-free entry to these passports.
Where Is United Kingdom And United States On The List?
The United Kingdom used to rank 1st place for three consecutive years between 2013-2015. This Q3 2023 the nation ranks 4th place, along with Denmark, Ireland, and Netherlands. UK travellers gain visa-free access to 188 destinations. Among which are an impressive number of 49 countries in Europe.
Ever since it claimed the top spot in 2014, the United States has been on a downward spiral. The nation’s passport currently ranks 8th, sharing the position with Lithuania. Americans can travel to 184 countries without worrying about a visa.
Top 3 Least Powerful Passports
The Afghanistan passport is ranked as the least powerful passport in the world in 2023 by the Henley Passport Index. Photo by jorono on Pixabay
Many of the world's least powerful passports come from politically unstable countries and war-torn nations. As travel visas and visa-free access need to be given to travellers with careful consideration to avoid illicit activities and overstays, citizens with the least powerful passports are often flagged.
Afghanistan Passport Is The Least Powerful Passport In The World
According to the Henley Passport Index, the least powerful passport is Afghanistan, with access to 27 countries out of 227 destinations in the world. This is 166 fewer destinations than Japan.
Visa-free countries for Afghan travellers are Dominica, Haiti, Micronesia and Suriname. At the same time, visa-on-arrival or eVisa destinations are India, Cambodia, Maldives and 30 more.
Iraq Passport Is The Second Least Powerful Passport
Iraq passport holders have access to 2 more countries as compared to Afghan citizens. Visa-free destinations for Iraqi travellers are Dominica, Haiti, Iran, Malaysia, Micronesia, Suriname and Zambia. Visa-on-arrival destinations for Iraq passport holders are countries such as Cambodia, Macao and Sri Lanka.
Syria's Passport Is The Third Least Powerful Passport
Syria has the third least powerful passport with a mobility score of 30. Countries that Syrian travellers can visit with visa-on-arrival and eTAs are as follows: 6 countries in Oceania, 3 in the Middle East, 2 in the Caribbean, 4 in Asia, 1 in the Americas and 14 in Africa.
What Makes A Passport Powerful?
Passport ranking indexes are good sources for you to compare different passport strengths. Photo by Tierney - stock.adobe.com
Statistically, countries with strong passport rankings tend to be ones with an open economy and high income level. Different factors such as income and fragility score can greatly affect travel freedom and how well a country's passport is ranked. Let's look at the main factors below to understand what influences passport ranking.
Income And Passport Strength
There is a direct link between a country's economic power and passport strength. According to Henley & Partners, countries with high gross domestic product per capita (GDP) tend to have more travel freedom than countries with lower economic power.
A strong passport means more than just great freedom to travel. Having a strong passport allows citizens to invest and seek business opportunities aboard as well.
Fragility and Passport Strength
A country's fragility state is determined by characteristics that can impair a nation's economic and social status. These characteristics include administrative capacity, the level of domestic violence, the history of civil war, social tensions and so on.
According to a study conducted by Henley Passport Index, countries with high fragility are more likely to have lower levels of travel freedom. An explanation for this is that citizens from these countries are on a high-risk list for overstay and asylum.
Aside from having a limited number of visa-free countries available, citizens from highly fragile countries often find it more difficult to obtain travel visas.
Factors To Influence Passport Rankings
The Schengen visa enables travellers to enter and travel freely within the Schengen zone. Photo by Stanisic Vladimir - stock.adobe.com
Migrant crises, military conflicts, pandemic outbreaks and economic difficulties are all contributing to the world's passport outlook. The safest countries to travel to are usually ranked higher in the passport index.
For example, recent global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have been reshaping the passport status of countries around the world. By looking at meaningful insights from sources such as Henley Passport Index and International Air Transportation Association (IATA), we can learn more about these influences.
COVID-19 Pandemic And Health-related Issues
COVID-19 pandemic affected even the world's most powerful passports. Temporary travel bans have been one of the most common and immediate pandemic responses. Countries use travel restrictions to temporarily delay the arrival of infectious pandemics into their country.
Tensions Between Countries
Global events such as the war in Ukraine influence passport powers in almost every country. Particularly, Ukrainian is approved by the European Union to enter Europe as an emergency measure following the war outbreak with Russia. For Russian passport holders, freedom of movement has been more restricted since the war happened.
History Of Security Breach
Countries whose people are statistically more prone to overstay travel visas and participate in illegal activities often have a lower rank. Countries with good track records, on the other, are ranked higher on the chart.
Aside from travel freedom to visa-free countries, citizens in these countries are subjected to a more complicated visa process. At border security, passport holders of countries with a history of overstay might have to undergo a more involved security screening.
Benefits Of Having A Strong Passport
Global mobility is on the rise, and having a high-ranking passport allows you to explore the world with more freedom and less hassle. Photo by Angelov on stock.adobe.com
With global mobility and international travel on the rise, having a strong passport can really open up the world for you. From spontaneous travel to new countries without needing a visa to pursue a new career path on the world stage, the possibility is limitless.
As there is a big gap in mobility between travellers with the most powerful passports and travellers with the least powerful ones, let's look at the benefits of having a strong passport to understand the world of passport better.
Your passport can influence how you travel and your imagination of a dream vacation. The list of visa-free countries that you are allowed to go with your current passport influences where you plan to go on vacation. The idea of a spontaneous traveller is captivating for many of us for sure. Get a last-minute deal on hotels, drive to your exciting destination next door or embark on an unexpected weekend getaway with friends.
Save On Visa Application Fees
Getting your visa approved can be costly, especially if you are a frequent traveller and your passport has limited travel freedom. Do you know that the application fee for a common tourist visa to the U.S. is 160 USD? And that is not the most expensive tourist visa yet. To visit the iconic Red Square in Russia, visitors might need to pay up to 270 USD, depending on the visa type and entry.
Experience the Life Of A Digital Nomad
You can choose your own office place, whether it is a relaxing bungalow by the beach or a coffee shop in a new city. Live out your dream, control your working hours, choose a dream destination, get your travel insurance and be ready to see the world.
Travel The World Better With Your Current Passport
Visa agents and travel agents can help you get your visa approved with less stress and a lower rate of visa rejection. Photo by Friends Stock on stock.adobe.com
Having passport privilege is a blessing. However, if you have a passport with limited travel freedom, there are still many great travel options to try.
Prioritising visa-free and visa-on-arrival countries
Before heading to countries that need a travel visa, you can visit visa-free countries and gradually build up your passport for further visa applications. By visiting visa-free countries, you are not only skipping the visa-obtaining process, but you can also save more on your travel expenses since visa-free countries tend to have a lower cost of living.
Research beforehand and take care of your visa in advance
Visa procedures vary between countries. Some countries have a stricter visa application process than others. It is best that you invest time to carefully research and prepare your visa application.
For example, schedule visa appointments in your home country and gather all the required documents such as application form, detailed travel itinerary, and round trip flight tickets in advance.
Learn the importance of proof of funds and proof of employment
Most countries require travellers to provide evidence of their financial capacity before approving visa applications. You can include your proof of investment such as house ownership, proof of financial assets such as stocks or proof of personal finance such as bank statements.
For proof of employment, depending on whether you are an employee, self-employed, students or freelancer, there are different documents that you can use.
Getting help from a travel agent or visa agent
Travel agencies are experienced in handling visa applications. They can help reduce stress and lower your chance of visa rejection. Travel agents can simplify the visa process for you and ensure your visa application is properly submitted, especially if you are having a difficult case.
CABINZERO’s Tips On Passport
Stay worry-free on your next trip by carefully handling your passport and paperwork beforehand. Photo by Kzenon on stock.adobe.com
Avoid travel headaches related to your passport on your next vacation. Never miss an exciting opportunity with our tips on passport applications, renewals and taking extra steps to be better prepared in unexpected situations.
Renewing your passport at the last minute is a terrible idea
Most passports are valid for ten years. Most countries do not allow travellers with less than six months of passport validity to enter. On your trip, you might find yourself in an unexpected situation. In your life, you might find travel opportunities come and go in an instant. Do not wait until the last minute and risk overstay or regretting a missed opportunity.
Frequent travellers should consider having a second passport
Visa applications can be a long process. If you plan to travel more often, you might need to apply for multiple visas on an on-going basis. Use your second passport for visa applications that tend to take a long time.
Aside from lengthy visa waiting times, some countries reject travellers whose passports include visa stamps from certain countries. Having an alternative passport is the solution.
Be prepared for unexpected situations
Your passport might get stolen, your physical copies of your passport can get lost too. Make copies of your passport. Be sure to always have a backup plan and handle your important travel documents with care. Leave your original passport in the hotel's safe. Have a digital scan of your passport saved in a cloud or a USB.
Personal information such as name, nationality, date of birth, gender and a photo are included in most passports. Photo by bs_k1d on stock.adobe.com
1. How Does Passport Work?
A passport is an important document for travellers. Travellers need their passports to re-enter their country of citizenship. Foreign governments use passports to identify tourists' original country as well as their identity. Information included in most passports are name, photo, country of citizenship, date of birth, gender and physical characteristics.
2. Why Does Passport Have Power?
Travelling is certainly a privilege. A passport represents travel freedom and learning opportunity as it enables you to explore foreign countries, learn about different cultures and pursue international career paths. To go through border control, apply for a travel visa, obtain an immigrant visa and be entitled to visa waiver, you need a visa. This is why passports have power.
3. What Is The Most Powerful Passport?
According to the latest passport ranking published by Henley & Partners, Singapore has the most powerful passport in the world. As of 2023, Singaporean passport holders can visit 192 countries without obtaining a visa. Coming close at second with visa-free entry to 190 places are Germany, Spain, and Italy. Japan falls to third place after 5 years of being the title holder.
4. What Is The Least Powerful Passport?
According to the Henley Passport Index in 2023, Afghanistan is ranked as the world's least powerful passport at 104th place. Afghan passport holders have access to 27 visa-free countries. Destinations where Afghanistan passport holders can travel without a visa are island countries located in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
The World’s Most Powerful Passport
In today's world, having the world’s most powerful passport with great travel freedom is more important than ever. However, your passport ranking should not be the sole determinant for future trips. There will always be ways to travel and new destinations to explore. We hope this article showcases you how fascinating the world is. Have fun becoming a global citizen.