Henley Index: Japan heads list of strongest international passports

INTERNATIONAL. For the third year in succession Japan has taken the number one position in the Henley Passport Index, which ranks all of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

Based on data from the International Air Transport Association, Japan – which has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 191 countries – heads the list from two other Asian nations in Singapore (second place, 190) and South Korea, which jointly holds third position with Germany (189).

The latest standings in the Henley Passport Index show Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Germany occupying the top four positions (click to enlarge)

The remainder of the top 20 positions are dominated by European countries, with the UK dropping to equal 20th place, alongside the USA, Greece, Norway and Belgium. The UK and USA have dropped from equal 12th place and equal 14th place last year respectively, continuing a slide from 2015, when the two countries jointly held the top spot in the index.

Visa-free/visa-on-arrival gains see a clutch of Middle East countries continue their rise up the rankings. These are led by the United Arab Emirates, which has jumped seven places in the countdown, rising from equal 48th place in 2019 to equal 41st this year. Other notable risers include Oman (rising from equal 113th to 111th place) and Saudi Arabia, which has climbed four positions to 115th place after adding four new countries which can be accessed without a prior visa.

Meanwhile, although China continues to see its outbound tourist numbers rise sharply, the country has slid from 117th equal place to 122nd equal place after dropping three countries from its visa-free/visa-on-arrival list.

Passport to freedom: Holders of Japanese passports have visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 191 countries

The bottom three positions of the index are held by Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, which have visa-free/visa-on-arrival to only 26, 28 and 29 countries respectively.

Assessing the latest passport standings, Henley & Partners Chairman Dr. Christian Kaelin Chairman said: “Asian countries’ dominance of the top spots is a clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies and the introduction of mutually beneficial trade agreements. Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life.”

He added: “The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it.”

NOTE 1: Last year’s full passport rankings list can be viewed here.

NOTE 2: For the purposes of our story here, we rate the UK’s position in the ranking as joint 20th place as opposed to the joint eighth place cited by Henley & Partners in their standings. Our numerical interpretation is the UK’s actual position in the ranking. Similarly, we rate the UAE as holding equal 36th place, as opposed to joint 18th; and China in equal 122nd place as opposed to joint 72nd. See table above.

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