What Are the Strongest Passports in the World? New Curious Stats
November 20, 2023
3 min. read
Did you know that passports can vary not only in color and type but also in passport power? Sounds a bit surrealistic, doesn’t it? But experienced travelers know exactly what we’re going to discuss in this article.
Let’s get the most up-to-date, official data on what the strongest passport in the world is and who are the top 10 countries this year moving up and down the chart.
The strongest passport in the world in 2023
When it comes to passport powers, we usually speculate about the number of destinations passport holders can reach without a prior visa.
For example, as we speak, the passport of Pakistan provides access to thirty countries around the world. In 2006, Pakistan used to give access only to 17 countries with a visa-free score.
Meanwhile, the ranking passport leader counts up to almost two hundred foreign destinations. And we’ll get back to that shortly.
If you’re in the middle of applying for your new passport whatever ranking it might have, think about passport photos for your application in advance. Your photo must be of the right size and dimensions. It must have an unpattern white or off-white background.
There are a few ways you can use to obtain your pictures for the document. You can get them done online with a reliable photo tool, or for example, pop into a store for an AAA passport photo. They’ll be accepted by the passport office.
What is the strongest possible passport in the world?
The strongest or most powerful passport in the world is a passport that offers the largest number of destinations to passport holders with visa-free access.
The ranking of the world’s passports is a stable system. However, it tends to be changing these days. The Henley Passport Index, the most authoritative and accurate report in the field, run by the global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners and their research team, presents very interesting data.
The Henley Passport Index—global passport rankings
The Henley Passport Index is a trustworthy, recognized annual ranking report based on exclusive travel information data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA).
The report was initiated back in 2006 and has gathered the information for every year up till now. The latest data enhanced by experts’ insights is available at https://www.henleyglobal.com/publications/global-mobility-report/2023-q3
Covering 199 passports and 227 destinations with quarterly updates, the Henley Passport Index allows its users to access the latest statistical tool for reference.
In the report, countries score points if their passport holders get access to sovereign states through visa-on-arrival access, visitor’s permit, electronic travel authority (ETA), or access visa-free. A government-approved e-visa before departure doesn’t count.
TOP 10 strongest passports in the world—new trends
The latest Henley Passport Index “pushed” Singapore to the top of the ranking with 192 out of 227 world’s open travel destinations. Singapore is followed by Germany, Italy, and Spain with visa-free entry to 190 destinations.
For long five years, Japan had preserved its first place as the world’s most powerful passport. Japanese passport holders had enjoyed visa-free access to the widest possible number of countries worldwide—193. Until 2023, when it stepped down to the third place.
TOP 10 world’s most powerful passports in 2023 (with destination number):
- Singapore: 192
- Germany, Italy, Spain: 190
- Japan, Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden: 189
- UK, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands: 188
- Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland: 187
- Australia, Hungary, and Poland: 186
- Canada and Greece: 185
- Lithuania and the United States: 184
- Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia: 183
- Estonia and Iceland: 182
The US has experienced the smallest rise in the score in the rankings over the past ten years. In 2023, it holds the eighth place with 184 destination access.
The UK is tied for fourth place with Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands with access offered to 188 destinations visa-free or visa-on-arrival access.
A quick note
Only 2014 was the year when the United Kingdom and the United States held the first place in the strongest passport ranking in the world.
TOP 10 least powerful passports in the world
According to the latest report from Henley & Partners, these are the top ten least powerful passports worldwide.
The following countries have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 42 or fewer countries (with destination number):
- Afghanistan (27)
- Iraq (29)
- Syria (30)
- Pakistan (33)
- Yemen and Somalia (35)
- Palestine and Nepal (38)
- North Korea (39)
- Bangladesh (40)
- Libya and Sri Lanka (41)
- Kosovo (42)
Visa-free access policies and least-welcoming visa policies
The number of passports that offer access to more countries is growing. It has become almost twice as much as before, spanning the last 18 years. The number of countries that have open access to foreign citizens without complex visa procedures has increased from 58 countries in 2006 to 109 in 2023.
And it’s indicative that only 8 states give visa-free access to fewer countries than a decade ago.
There are also countries with less welcoming visa policies that have strict rules for passing their borders. The report shows that Afghanistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, and Turkmenistan do not provide visa-free access to international travelers.
The new Henley Passport Index vs. Openness Index Score in 2023
This year, Henley & Partners introduces a new constituent to the annually conducted research—an exclusive new research explores the relationship between the Henley Passport Index score and Henley Openness Index score. That is a relationship between the travel freedom of its passport holders and the country’s openness to foreign travelers. The results turn out to have complex correlations.
Explore the top 15 countries with the highest openness index below. Except for Cambodia, they are small island nations or African states. You can find the full list at https://www.henleyglobal.com/publications/global-mobility-report/2023-q3
What has come out curious is that US passports provide access to 184 states out of 227, that is when US travelers require no formal visa application to enter a certain destination. At the same time, the US only accepts citizens from 44 countries without a visa.
That relationship gives the United States the 78th place in the openness index. Australia and Canada have landed not far away. Together with New Zealand and Japan, they comprise the top 5 countries with the biggest difference between the travel freedom their passport holders have and the access they grant to other countries’ residents.
Some countries, like Burundi, the Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, the Maldives, Micronesia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu, accommodate visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to the rest of 198 world’s passports.
With gradual come-back to pre-pandemic levels of traveling, we hope everyone will find picturesque spots to their liking, budget, passport, and visa opportunities, with their less powerful or the strongest passports in the world.