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World’s most powerful passports 2021

World’s most powerful passports 2021

Japan is the world’s most powerful passport for the third year running. We take a look at what else topped the list

It feels a little masochistic to look at the world’s most powerful passports after a year of recurring lockdowns. However, as we’ve said before, we remain hopeful about the future of travel. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and that as soon as it is safe, people will return to the road.

With this in mind, we take a look at the newly released ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, compiled by Henley Passport Index. With historical data spanning 16 years, the index ranks passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

What are the world’s most powerful passports?

Japan is the world’s most powerful passport in 2021, granting easy access to 191 destinations. It is followed by Singapore in second place and Germany and South Korea in joint third. The complete top 10 is below.

1. Japan: 191 destinations
2. Singapore: 190
3. Germany: 189
3. South Korea: 189
4. Finland: 188
4. Italy: 188
4. Luxembourg: 188
4. Spain: 188
5. Austria: 187
5. Denmark: 187

What are the world’s least powerful passports?

Afghanistan is the world’s least powerful passport in 2021, granting easy access to only 26 destinations. It ranks just below Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. The bottom 10 are listed below. 

103. North Korea: 39 destinations
104. Libya: 38
104. Nepal: 38
105. Palestinian Territory: 37
106. Somalia: 33
106. Yemen: 33
107. Pakistan: 32
108. Syria: 29
109. Iraq: 28
110. Afghanistan: 26

The world's most powerful passports

How is the ranking calculated?

The Henley Passport Index uses data from the International Air Transport Authority to cross-check 199 passports against 227 possible travel destinations. 

For each travel destination, if no visa is required or a visa-on-arrival is available, the passport in question receives a score of 1. If a visa or other form of government approval is required before departure, the passport receives a score of 0. 

The scores for each passport are added up to produce its total score (i.e. the number of destinations to which it grants access without a prior visa). This is then ranked against all other passports to create the index. 

interesting insights

Japan holds the top position on the index for the third consecutive year, either alone or jointly with Singapore. 

Japan tops the list of the most powerful passports in the world
Travel Mania/Shutterstock Japan tops the list of the most powerful passports in the world

Over the past seven years, the US passport has fallen from the number one spot to 7th place, a position it currently shares with the UK.

North Korea has visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 39 destinations. This includes only one country in Europe: Belarus. 

The UAE has continued its remarkable upward trajectory. In 2021, it has a score of 173 and holds 16th spot on the ranking. This is a rapid ascent from 2006 when it had a score of just 35 and ranked 62nd.

The biggest climbers over the past decade are: United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, Georgia and Peru. In contrast, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, The Gambia and Sierra Leone have fared the worst. 

World’s most powerful passports – ranked

Rank Passport Score
1 Japan 191
2 Singapore 190
3 Germany 189
South Korea 189
4 Finland 188
Italy 188
Luxembourg 188
Spain 188
5 Austria 187
Denmark 187
6 France 186
Ireland 186
Netherlands 186
Portugal 186
Sweden 186
7 Belgium 185
New Zealand 185
Norway 185
Switzerland 185
United Kingdom 185
United States 185
8 Australia 184
Czech Republic 184
Greece 184
Malta 184
9 Canada 183
10 Hungary 182
11 Iceland 181
Lithuania 181
Poland 181
Slovakia 181
12 Latvia 180
Slovenia 180
13 Estonia 179
14 Liechtenstein 178
Malaysia 178
15 Chile 174
Cyprus 174
Monaco 174
16 United Arab Emirates 173
17 Romania 172
18 Bulgaria 171
Croatia 171
19 Argentina 170
Brazil 170
Hong Kong (SAR China) 170
20 San Marino 168
21 Andorra 167
22 Brunei 166
23 Barbados 161
Israel 161
24 Mexico 159
25 St. Kitts and Nevis 156
26 Bahamas 155
27 Uruguay 153
Vatican City 153
28 Antigua and Barbuda 151
Seychelles 151
29 Costa Rica 150
Trinidad and Tobago 150
30 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 148
31 Mauritius 146
St. Lucia 146
32 Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) 145
33 Grenada 144
Macao (SAR China) 144
34 Dominica 143
35 Panama 142
36 Paraguay 141
37 Peru 135
38 El Salvador 134
Honduras 134
Serbia 134
39 Guatemala 133
40 Samoa 131
Solomon Islands 131
41 Ukraine 130
Vanuatu 130
42 Colombia 129
Nicaragua 129
Venezuela 129
43 Tuvalu 127
44 Tonga 125
45 Montenegro 124
North Macedonia 124
46 Kiribati 123
Marshall Islands 123
47 Moldova 120
Palau Islands 120
48 Micronesia 118
49 Bosnia and Herzegovina 117
50 Russian Federation 116
51 Georgia 115
52 Albania 114
53 Turkey 110
54 Belize 101
South Africa 101
55 Kuwait 96
56 Qatar 95
57 Timor-Leste 94
58 Ecuador 92
59 Nauru 89
60 Fiji 88
Guyana 88
61 Jamaica 86
62 Botswana 85
Maldives 85
63 Papua New Guinea 84
64 Bahrain 83
65 Oman 80
66 Saudi Arabia 79
Thailand 79
67 Bolivia 78
Suriname 78
68 Namibia 77
69 Lesotho 76
70 Belarus 75
China 75
Kazakhstan 75
71 eSwatini 74
72 Malawi 73
73 Kenya 72
74 Indonesia 71
Tanzania 71
Tunisia 71
Zambia 71
75 The Gambia 68
76 Azerbaijan 67
Uganda 67
77 Cape Verde Islands 66
Dominican Republic 66
Philippines 66
78 Ghana 65
Zimbabwe 65
79 Cuba 64
Morocco 64
80 Armenia 63
Kyrgyzstan 63
Sierra Leone 63
81 Benin 62
Mongolia 62
Mozambique 62
82 Sao Tome and Principe 61
83 Rwanda 60
84 Burkina Faso 59
Mauritania 59
85 India 58
Tajikistan 58
86 Cote d’Ivoire 57
Gabon 57
Uzbekistan 57
87 Senegal 56
88 Equatorial Guinea 55
Guinea 55
Madagascar 55
Togo 55
89 Cambodia 54
Mali 54
Niger 54
Vietnam 54
90 Bhutan 53
Chad 53
Comoro Islands 53
Guinea-Bissau 53
Turkmenistan 53
91 Central African Republic 52
92 Algeria 51
Jordan 51
93 Angola 50
Burundi 50
Egypt 50
Laos 50
94 Cameroon 49
Haiti 49
Liberia 49
95 Congo (Rep.) 48
96 Djibouti 47
Myanmar 47
97 Nigeria 46
98 Ethiopia 44
99 South Sudan 43
100 Congo (Dem. Rep.) 42
Eritrea 42
Sri Lanka 42
101 Bangladesh 41
Iran 41
102 Kosovo 40
Lebanon 40
Sudan 40
103 North Korea 39
104 Libya 38
Nepal 38
105 Palestinian Territory 37
106 Somalia 33
Yemen 33
107 Pakistan 32
108 Syria 29
109 Iraq 28
110 Afghanistan 26


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