May 24, 2024

Japan loses Top Japan in Henley Rankings

The new update 2023 Henley Passport Indexbased on official and exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has unveiled the newly crowned winner of the world’s most powerful passport.

For the first time in five years, Japan has lost the first ranking, falling to third place on the list. Singapore can now call itself the country with the most powerful passport in the world, according to the latest ranking. Its citizens can now enjoy visa-free visits to 192 of the 227 destinations surveyed by Henley.

Singapore is not the only country on the rise. With Japan falling to third place, it is behind three European countries in second place: Germany, Italy and Spain, which have visa-free access to 190 destinations.

Japan joins six other nations in third place with 189 destinations listed as visa-free: Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and South Korea.

Surprisingly, the UK appears to have turned a corner and is climbing back up the Henley rankings after six years of decline. Ranked fourth with 188 visa-free countries accessible, this result is the highest since 2017.

The US, however, has not seen such turnover and continues to slide down the index, this year in eighth place with 184 destinations listed as visa-free, the same as Lithuania. Remember that the United States and the UK were at the top of the Henley Index ten years ago, it shows the impact of geopolitical changes around the world.

Still stuck at the bottom of the ranking is Afghanistan, whose passport holders can visit only 27 destinations without a visa. Just above sit Iraq with a score of 29 and Syria with 30, rounding out the three weakest passports in the world.

Looking at the general trend over the 18-year history of the Henley Index, the average number of destinations open to visa-free access has almost doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. Despite this, the global mobility gap between top and bottom countries. more than ever before – Singaporean passport holders can visit 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghan passport holders.

American passport continues to lose international power

Only eight countries have fewer visa-free access to destinations than ten years ago, showing how countries are opening up more and more to give their citizens more freedom to travel. The UAE has added 107 visa-free destinations, climbing 44 places up the ranking. Singapore added 25, pushing it up to the top spot. However, the US has added just 12 new destinations, the lowest increase in the top ten.

Looking at the ranking, Greg Lindsay from Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, says that from a purely mechanistic perspective, “it’s a simple story – gradually, more or less, the US has fallen behind. While its overall score has risen over the past decade, rivals such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore have consistently trailed the US. America’s steady slide down the rankings is a warning to Canada’s neighbor and the rest of the Anglosphere.”

The Openness Index shows a wide disparity between richer and poorer nations

Next to the pass index, the Henley Openness Index it paints a damning picture of America’s approach to welcoming citizens from developing nations. While US passport holders can visit 184 countries without a visa, the US itself allows visa-free access to only 44 other countries, making it 78th on the Henley Openness Index.

Only Australia is more disparate although Canada is not far behind, along with New Zealand and Japan. Interestingly, all five of these countries have remained unchanged or fallen down the passport power rankings over the past decade.

The 20 most open countries on the index are African states or small island nations (except Cambodia) including the tourist destinations of Seychelles and the Maldives. Twelve of these countries are open to all passports, requiring no visa, or allowing visitors to collect one on arrival. Conversely, only four countries have an openness rating of zero and do not allow anyone to visit without a visa – Afghanistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea and Turkmenistan.

A leading sociologist at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Dr AS Yossi Harpaz, who say that the data clearly show that the relationship between freedom of travel (the passport ranking) and openness is complex and non-linear. “These factors are significantly influenced by the diplomatic and socio-economic realities and strategic goals of nations, resulting in a complex web of interrelationships. As the global landscape continues to change, so will these patterns, reflecting the dynamic nature of global mobility.”

Cornell Tech’s Greg Lindsay explains that while the correlation between a high openness score and a high visa-free access score is not very clear in the data, “It is significant that Singapore and South Korea — high climbers on the Henley Pass Index for a decade down, rising from sixth and seventh place respectively in 2013 to first and third today – there are relatively high levels of openness, with the US and Canada slipping down the top 10 rankings as their -openness.”

Here is the updated top ten ranking (now with 34 countries!) for the world’s most powerful passports in 2023:

1. Singapore: 192

2. Germany: 190

2. Italy: 190

2. Spain: 190

3. Austria: 189

3. Finland: 189

3. France: 189

3. Japan: 189

3. Luxembourg: 189

3. South Korea: 189

3. Sweden: 189

4. Denmark: 188

4. Ireland: 188

4. The Netherlands: 188

4. United Kingdom: 188

5. Belgium: 187

5. Czech Republic: 187

5. Malta: 187

5. New Zealand: 187

5. Norway: 187

5. Portugal: 187

5. Switzerland: 187

6. Australia: 186

6. Hungary: 186

6. Poland: 186

7. Canada: 185

7. Greece: 185

8. Lithuania: 184

8. United States of America: 184

9. Latvia: 183

9. Slovakia: 183

9. Slovenia: 183

10. Estonia: 182

10. Iceland: 182

Or you can explore in detail the overall ranking.

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