In 2023, Japan has the world’s most powerful passport. Holders are able to visit 193 destinations without a prior visa
It’s official. Globally, we are on the move again. In 2022, international travel showed significant signs of recovery, with arrivals reaching 57% of pre-pandemic levels. An estimated 474 million tourists travelled internationally during the first seven months of 2022, compared to 175 million in the same period of 2021.
As we mentioned in our annual round-up, 2022 was a watershed year for us – one of lifetime highs and goals. We remain hopeful about the future of travel and hope that the same trends persist into 2023. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and hope that people will continue to return to the road.
With this in mind, we take a look at the recently updated ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, compiled by the Henley Passport Index. With historical data spanning 18 years, the index ranks passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
What are the world’s most powerful passports?
Japan has sneaked back ahead of Singapore after the two countries jointly held the title in 2022. Japan now grants easy access to 193 destinations, compared to Singapore’s 192. Singapore is joined by South Korea in joint second with Germany and Spain in joint fourth. The 10 most powerful passports are below.
- Japan, 193 destinations
- Singapore, 192
- South Korea, 192
- Germany, 190
- Spain, 190
- Finland, 189
- Italy, 189
- Luxembourg, 189
- Austria, 188
- Denmark, 188
What are the world’s least powerful passports?
Afghanistan has the world’s least powerful passport in 2023, granting easy access to only 27 destinations. It ranks just below Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen. The 10 least powerful passports are below.
- Libya, 41 destinations
- North Korea, 40
- Nepal, 38
- Palestinian Territories, 38
- Somalia, 35
- Yemen, 34
- Pakistan, 32
- Syria, 30
- Iraq, 29
- Afghanistan, 27
Increase in Visa-Free Destinations: 2006 versus 2022
The darker blue countries have increased the number of destinations their citizens can access visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival the most. Hover over a country to see the number of destinations it has gained access to since 2006.
How is the ranking calculated?
The Henley Passport Index uses data from the International Air Transport Authority to cross-check 199 passports against 227 possible travel destinations.
For each travel destination, if no visa is required or a visa-on-arrival is available, the passport in question receives a score of 1. If a visa or other form of government approval is required before departure, the passport receives a score of 0.
The scores for each passport are added up to produce its total score (i.e. the number of destinations to which it grants access without a prior visa). This is then ranked against all other passports to create the index.
Japan has taken the top spot of the index for the fifth consecutive year, either alone or jointly with Singapore. This year it is once again moved ahead of Singapore.
Over the past eight years, the US passport has fallen from the number one spot to seventh place, a position it currently shares with Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.
North Korea has visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 40 destinations. This includes only one country in Europe: Belarus.
The UAE has continued its remarkable upward trajectory. In 2023, it has a score of 178 to take 15th place on the ranking. This is a rapid ascent from 2006 when it had a score of just 35 and ranked 62nd.
The biggest climbers over the past decade are UAE, Colombia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, Georgia and Peru. In contrast, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, The Gambia and Sierra Leone have fared the worst.
World’s most powerful passport – ranked
|19||Hong Kong SAR||171|
|26||St. Kitts & Nevis||157|
|30||St. Vincent & the Grenadines||152|
|31||Antigua & Barbuda||151|
|Trinidad & Tobago|
|49||Bosnia & Herzegovina||118|
|64||Papua New Guinea||83|
|84||Sao Tome & Principe||60|
|91||Central African Republic||52|
This article is updated annually with the latest available data.
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