WASHINGTON, DC – The global passport rankings for 2023 have become even more intriguing with shifting positions. For the past five years, Japan held the coveted top spot in the Henley Passport Index, which measures the freedom of global travel based on visa-free and visa-on-demand access for citizens.
However, in the summer of 2023, Japan has been bumped down to third place, making way for Singapore as the new titleholder. Singaporean citizens now enjoy visa-free access to 193 out of 227 destinations worldwide.
While Asia has traditionally dominated the leaderboard in the Henley Passport Index, Europe is making a comeback. Germany, Italy, and Spain have all risen to the second position, granting visa-free access to 190 destinations. Japan and South Korea now share the third spot with Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, and Sweden, offering their citizens access to 189 destinations without a prior visa.
The United States and the United Kingdom have been gradually declining in the rankings since their joint No. 1 position in 2014. However, the UK shows signs of improvement, making a significant jump to the fourth position, a position it last held in 2017. On the other hand, the US has dropped two more places, landing at the eighth spot, with visa-free access to only 183 destinations.
The Henley Passport Index evaluates 199 passports worldwide using data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It provides real-time updates throughout the year to reflect changes in visa policies.
According to Henley & Partners’ latest release, the average number of visa-free destinations accessible to travelers has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109. However, the gap in travel freedom between the top and bottom ranks has widened. Citizens of Afghanistan have the least travel freedom, with only 27 destinations accessible without a prior visa, followed closely by Iraq (29 destinations) and Syria (30 destinations).
Cristian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, highlights Singapore’s remarkable efforts in securing greater travel freedom for its citizens over the past decade, with 25 new destinations granting visa-free access. He also mentions that the UAE has significantly increased its visa-free score by 107 destinations since 2013. In comparison, the US has seen the smallest increase, with just 12 additional destinations.
Greg Lindsay from Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute cautions that the US’s decline in the rankings serves as a warning to Canada and the rest of the Anglosphere. He suggests that the US’s stagnant progress has caused it to fall behind in the global ranking.
Brazil is in 18th position with access to 168 countries, behind Hong Kong, Andorra, and Argentina.
TOP 10 – RANKING 2023
- Singapore (192 locations)
- Germany, Italy, Spain (190 locations)
- Japan, Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden (189 locations)
- UK, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands (188 locations)
- Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland (187 locations)
- Australia, Hungary, and Poland (186 locations)
- Canada and Greece (185 locations)
- Lithuania and the United States (184 locations)
- Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia (183 locations)
- Estonia and Iceland (182 locations)