The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a global ranking of countries that are allotted visa-free travel for their respective citizens. A list of 199 passports are scored and checked against all 227 travel destinations worldwide in accordance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) database. Having started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI), the agency has since underwent a modification and was renamed in January 2018.
Which are the Strongest Passports in 2020?
For a third year running, Japan tops the list of 199 countries, being able to visit 191 destinations visa-free. Singapore comes in strong just under Japan with a score of 190 countries, while South Korea has dropped one notch down to third place tying with Germany with visa-free access to 189 countries.
Malaysia holds a spot at number 13 together with Liechtenstein, with both countries having visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 178 countries.
Just five years ago, both the United States and UK tied at number one, but have since slipped down to eighth place to stand with Belgium, Greece, and Norway.
According to Henley & Partners contributor, Dr. Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner at FutureMap (a data- and scenario-based strategic advisory firm headquartered in Singapore):
“Asia remains a dynamic theater and laboratory for international migration. The US–China trade war has accelerated the shift of Western investment out of China towards Southeast Asia, bringing a new wave of foreign talent into ASEAN countries that have been opening to greater migration through streamlined visa and residency policies.”
The UAE’s global rank has been on a steady incline in the last decade and have moved up 47 places to number 18 on the list. Dominic Volek, Managing Partner, Member of the Management Board, and Head of Southeast Asia at Henley & Partners notes that:
“The index’s dramatic success story remains the sustained upward ascent of the UAE, which climbed four places over the past year and now sits in 18th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 171. Looking back at the historical data, the rise of the UAE passport seems almost meteoric – it has climbed an extraordinary 47 places over the past decade, as the country has implemented a succession of mutually reciprocated visa waivers in a bid to attract tourism and trade. Taiwan’s ascent has also been impressive – it has moved up 37 places since 2010, with passport holders now able to access 146 destinations around the world without acquiring a visa in advance.”
10 Most Powerful Passports:
- South Korea, Germany
- Finland, Italy
- Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain,
- France, Sweden
- Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland
- Belgium, Greece, Norway, United Kingdom, United States
- Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand
- Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia
“While Asian countries are on the rise, countries whose positions once seemed unshakable are declining. The UK has dropped in the rankings over the past ten years, and now sits in eighth place with the US. While it is not yet possible to make any firm predictions about the effect that Brexit will have on UK passport power, it seems increasingly unlikely that it will regain the first place position it once held. The same is true of the US — a look at the historical data shows that in 2014, the country was ranked first when it came to travel freedom, but with the implementation of ever-stricter immigration policies the top spot appears to be well out of reach for now.” –Dominic Volek
The countries found with the most travel restrictions, unsurprisingly, face ongoing political conflict and unrest.
10 Least Powerful Passports
98. Bangladesh, Congo (Dem.Rep.), Eritrea, Iran
99. Kosovo, Lebanon
100. North Korea, Lebanon
101. Nepal, Palestinian Territory
104. Pakistan, Somalia
Find HPI’s full list here.