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Japan has the most powerful passport in a post-pandemic world

Japan has the most powerful passport in a post-pandemic world
Japan has the most powerful passport in a post-pandemic world
Written by Harry Johnson

Japanese passport holders theoretically able to access a record 193 destinations around the world visa-free

  • The resumption of regular international travel is no longer an abstract hope
  • Countries around the world selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors
  • Singapore remains in 2nd place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192

As vaccination program rollouts gather momentum in certain countries, the resumption of regular international travel is no longer an abstract hope. The latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — provide exclusive insight into what post-pandemic travel freedom might look like as countries around the world selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors.

Without taking temporary and constantly evolving COVID-19 travel restrictions into account, Japan firmly holds onto the number one spot on the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — with Japanese passport holders theoretically able to access a record 193 destinations around the world visa-free. Singapore remains in 2nd place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, while Germany and South Korea again share joint-3rd place, each with access to 191 destinations.

As has been the case for most of the index’s 16-year history, the majority of the remaining top 10 spots are held by EU countries. The UK and the USA, both of which continue to face steadily eroding passport strength since they held the top spot in 2014, currently share joint-7th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 187.

The latest results indicate that the gap in travel freedom is now at its largest since the index began in 2006, with Japanese passport holders able to access 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who can visit only 26 destinations worldwide without acquiring a visa in advance.

China and UAE climb global ranking

Although there has been very little movement in the Henley Passport Index for the past five quarters since the outbreak of COVID-19, taking a step back reveals some interesting dynamics over the past decade. Q2 2021 saw China entering the biggest climbers in the past decade for the first time. China has risen by 22 places in the ranking since 2011, from 90th position with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 40 to 68^th position with a score of 77.