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Japan, Singapore retain most powerful passports

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Japan has entered the New Year with the world’s most powerful passport, a new global ranking has revealed. The nation has secured the top spot in the Henley Passport Index for the third consecutive year, with its citizens able to travel to 191 nations around the world visa-free.

The Singaporean passport was ranked in second place, with natives able to travel with ease to 190 countries. In joint third place were South Korea and Germany with visa-free movement to 189 nations. However, the U.S. and the UK have continued to fall on the index, this year in joint eighth place alongside Belgium, Greece and Norway. All five nations can travel to 184 countries.

This is a far cry from the U.S. and UK’s lead on the index in 2015, when both countries topped the ranking. Last year, the two powers were ranked in joint sixth place. Elsewhere in the top 10, Finland and Italy share fourth place, with 188 countries, while Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain together hold fifth place with 187. Ranked sixth with 186 countries are France and Sweden, with Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland in joint seventh.

The top 10 is completed by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Malta and New Zealand in joint ninth, who can all travel to 183 nations visa-free. Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia are in 10th with 181.The Henley Passport Index also singled out the “historic success story” which is the “steady ascent” of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The nation, in the Middle East, has climbed a remarkable 47 places over the past 10 years and now sits in 18th place, with a visa-free score of 171.On the other end of the travel freedom spectrum, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with its nationals only able to visit 26 destinations visa-free. Iraq and Syria complete the bottom three, with scores of 28 and 29.

Chairman of Henley & Partners, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, said the latest ranking provides a fascinating insight into a rapidly changing world.

“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,” he said.“Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life. 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.”


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Henley Passport Index
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