Regardless of where you are from, having a passport holds some kind of power. Passports open the doors for travel, but also provide other important benefits. Powerful passports can provide economic and educational opportunities, as well as access to better healthcare and living conditions. But not all passports are created equal. Passports from some countries simply hold more power than others.
What Does It Mean To Have A Powerful Passport
Each quarter Henley & Partners, a global advisory firm, analyzes the strength of passports from around the world. The firm’s researchers look at 199 different passports and determine what level of access each has to 227 different destinations around the world. The results are then compiled into the Henley Passport Index.
Access to destinations is ranked using information from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). Certain passports do not require a visa to enter a country, or a visa can be obtained upon arrival. Those “visa-free” passports are deemed to be more powerful and are ranked accordingly. Passport holders from certain places are required to obtain a visa prior to visiting a destination. The more pre-arrival visas that are needed make a passport less powerful.
Passports hold the power to unlock the doors to the world. Travelers who need to apply for a visa before visiting a destination can have fewer travel opportunities, as visa applications are not always approved or can come with substantial fees. Having a less powerful passport means that one’s global mobility is decreased. People who hold passports from multiple countries have greater access to the world. In fact, it is becoming more popular for Americans to seek dual citizenship with EU countries.
Most Powerful Passports In 2023
This year’s ranking of most powerful passports has three Asian countries at the top. For the 5th year in a row, Japan has had the highest global mobility score. 193 destinations allow Japanese passport holders visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) access. That makes the Japanese passport the most powerful in the world.
- Japan – 193 destinations
- Singapore and South Korea – 192 destinations
- Germany and Spain – 190 destinations
- Finland, Italy, Luxembourg – 189 destinations
- Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden – 188 destinations
- France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom – 187 destinations
- Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States – 186 destinations
- Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta – 185 destinations
- Hungary, Poland – 184 destinations
- Lithuania, Slovakia – 183 destinations
Least Powerful Passports In 2023
The bottom of the list contains 16 passports with 42 or fewer destinations that allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access. These passports represent some of the most economically and politically challenged locations in the world.
- Sudan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Congo – 42 destinations
- Lybia, Kosovo, Bangladesh – 41 destinations
- North Korea – 40 destinations
- Nepal, Palestine – 38 destinations
- Somalia – 35 destinations
- Yemen – 34 destinations
- Pakistan – 32 destinations
- Syria – 30 destinations
- Iraq – 29 destinations
- Afghanistan – 27 destinations
Notable Findings In The Ranking
Henley & Partners has been compiling this index for 18 years. 2023’s ranking has the widest gap between the highest and lowest-ranking passports than ever before.
Additionally, over the past 9 years, the U.S. passport has lost a significant amount of power. In 2014 it was the most powerful passport to have. This year it ranks as the 7th with access to 186 visa-free destinations.
The UAE has moved from 64th place to 15th place in just 10 years, an indication of its growing popularity and economic success.
Relationship Between Passport Strength And Economic Power
In addition to compiling the Passport Index, Henley & Partners have also compared the data to information provided by the World Bank. This further research shows the compelling relationship between passport strength and economic power. They have revealed that only 6% of passports have access to more than 70% of the global economy.
For example, the 193 destinations that the Japanese passport can access visa-free represent 98% of the global economy. In contrast, the lowest-ranking passport, Afghanistan, has visa-free access to less than 1% of the global GDP. The inability to access more of the world’s economy only furthers the worldwide wealth gap.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com