Singapore’s Passport Knocks Japan Off the Henley Passport Index Top Spot


According to the latest Henley Passport Index ranking, Japan has been toppled off the top spot on the Henley Passport Index, dropping it to third place for the first time in five years.

With visa-free access to 192 of 227 countries and territories, the passport issued to citizens of Singapore has surpassed all others as the most powerful in the world. Germany, Italy, and Spain move up to second place, with visa-free access to 190 destinations. Passport holders from Japan join citizens of six other countries (Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden) in third place with visa-free entry to 189 countries.

After six years of decline, the United Kingdom has apparently turned a corner. It rose two spots to fourth place in the most recent list (a position it previously held in 2017). However, the United States continues its decline down the index. It falls two spots to eighth place with visa-free access to only 184 locations. Nearly a decade ago, in 2014, the United Kingdom and the United States tied for first place on the index, but since then, they have both steadily declined. According to the Henley Passport Index, the three weakest passports in the world are those issued to citizens of Afghanistan (27), Iraq (29), and Syria (30).

Widening Gap in the Freedom to Travel

According to Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, the average number of nations passengers can access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023, marking a general trend towards increased travel freedom during the course of the 18-year-old ranking. However, the gap between the most mobile and least mobile countries has grown larger than ever before, with the most mobile country, Singapore, having visa-free access to 165 more locations than the least mobile country, Afghanistan.

Henley & Partners commissioned brand new study to determine whether or not a country’s policy of granting visa-free entry to nationals of other countries affected the freedom of movement of its own inhabitants. According to the latest Henley Openness Index, the number of nationalities each country welcomes without a visa is ranked from 0 to 199.

Except for Cambodia, the Top 20 ‘most open’ countries are mostly small island nations or African republics. There are 12 nations that accept all passports without requiring a visa and four that do not grant visa-free. While the relationship between a high openness score and a high visa-free access score is not linear or straightforward, it is worth noting that Singapore and South Korea – the two fastest rising countries in the Top 10 over the last decade – have relatively high levels of openness compared to the five countries with the greatest disparity between the travel freedom they enjoy and the visa-free access they provide to other nationalities. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have all either dropped or remained in the same position as their openness has stagnated.

The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a previous visa, including cutting-edge expert commentary and historical data spanning over 18 years. The ranking, which was originally developed by Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and it is supplemented by extensive, ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.


About Author

Marky is a travel writer and photographer. He narrates his experiences wandering the tropical paradise of the Philippines, South East Asia, Sri Lanka and India on his travel blog Nomadic Experiences.

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