Why One Country Earns Most-Powerful Passport Honors

Travelers from Japan have the most global freedom, according to the results of a new study.

Here’s why: A Japanese passport allows its bearer to visit 193 countries without needing to first apply for a visa, according to a quarterly report by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.

The Henley Passport Index’s third quarter 2022 report is based on data from the International Air Transport Association — the trade association for the world’s airlines — and insight from Henley & Partners’ research team. The research evaluates 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

“The index’s scoring system was developed to give users a nuanced, practical, and reliable overview of their passport’s power,” according to Henley & Partners. “Each passport is scored on the total number of destinations that the holder can access visa-free.”

The Most-Powerful Passports

As was noted, a passport from Japan allows entry to 193 countries without the need to apply for a visa. Next, Singapore and South Korea are tied for second place on the index because their passports allow easy entry into 192 countries.

Germany and Spain are in third place on the index, with easy entry into 190 destinations. And in fourth place, Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg passports allow entry into 189 countries.

Next, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden are tied for fifth place, with easy entry to 188 countries.

Sixth place on the index goes to France, Ireland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom with easy entry into 187 destinations.

The United States is in seventh place, tied with Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland. A passport from these countries allows visa-free entry to 186 countries.

In eighth place, passports from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, and Malta allow entry into 185 countries.

Hungary sits alone in ninth place on the index. Its passport allows visa-free entry into 183 countries.

And finally, rounding out the top 10, a passport from Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia allows visa-free entry into 182 countries.

The Report’s Other Findings

As air travelers already know, there has been travel chaos this summer as airlines deal with staff shortages. Consequently, airlines have been canceling flights and airports in Europe have even begun placing restrictions on the number of daily flights they service in hopes of shortening the long lines of frustrated travelers. 

However, that doesn’t seem to deter people from flying, which comes as no surprise to Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, and the inventor of the passport index concept.

“The latest results from the Henley Passport Index are a heartening reminder of the very human desire for global connectivity even as some countries move toward isolationism and autarky,” Dr. Kaelin said. “The shock of the pandemic was unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, and the recovery and reclamation of our travel freedoms, and our innate instinct to move and migrate, will take time.”

And while passenger numbers are still well below their pre-pandemic levels, Dr. Marie Owens Thomsen, chief economist at IATA, claims “by next year, many markets should see traffic reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels, while we expect this to be the case for the industry as a whole in 2024.”

Finally, and perhaps not surprising, Henley & Partners’ research comparing a country’s visa-free access with its Global Peace Index score shows there is a strong correlation between a nation’s passport power and its peacefulness. 

Indeed, all of the nations in the top 10 on the Henley Passport Index are also in the top 10 on the Global Peace Index, which is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace to measure global peacefulness.


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