World’s most powerful passport: Four European countries rise to the top of the list

World’s most powerful passport: Four European countries rise to the top of the list

Four European countries now have the world’s most powerful passports.

France, Germany, Italy and Spain now share first place with the reigning leader Singapore. Japan, which fell to third place in the last ranking, has risen back to the top too, meaning an unprecedented six countries share first place.

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The Henley Passport Index ranks countries’ passports based on the number of places where their holders can enjoy visa-free access. It is regularly updated as the information for each country changes.

The countries in the top spot have visa-free access to a record-breaking 194 countries out of 227 around the globe.

In October’s ranking, Germany, Italy and Spain were in second place, while France was in third.

A rival passport ranking released last month by VisaGuide.World gave points based on the type of visa-free access and a destination’s ‘significance score’. It ranked Spain above Singapore.

European passports dominate the top 10

In Henley’s new 2024 ranking, European countries dominate the top 10.

Finland and Sweden are in second place — both rising from third place in October’s list — alongside South Korea.

In third place are Austria, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands; followed by Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and the UK in fourth. Greece, Malta and Switzerland came in fifth place.

Rounding out the top 10, Czechia and Poland join Australia and New Zealand in sixth place; Hungary ties with Canada and the US in seventh; Estonia and Lithuania come eighth; Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia ninth; and Iceland 10th.

Other European countries that make the top 20 include Cyprus and Lichtenstein (12th) Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania (13th), Monaco (14th) and Andorra (19th).

Further down the list, Ukraine sits in 32nd place, followed by a number of Balkan countries including Serbia in 37th, North Macedonia in 45th, Montenegro in 46th and Albania in 48th.

Moldova sits in 49th place, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia in 50th, Türkiye in 52nd, Belarus in 64th, Kosovo in 68th, Azerbaijan in 70th, Armenia in 74th.

How does the Henley Passport Index rank passports?

The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s 199 different passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a visa.

To do this, the global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners draws on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The ranking is in its 19th year and while it was previously updated four times per year, the company now says it will be updated monthly.

Countries score one point for every destination — out of 227 — that they can visit visa-free. This applies if citizens can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit or an electronic travel authority (ETA) when entering the destination.

No points are awarded for destinations where a visa is required or the passport holder has to obtain a government-approved e-visa before departure.

Which countries have the least powerful passports?

Overall, the average number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024. But countries at the bottom of the list are facing an ever wider gap.

Of the 104 countries and territories on the list, Afghanistan remains at the bottom with the world’s weakest passport. It currently has visa-free access to 28 countries, one more than in the October ranking, and 166 fewer than France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen are also in the bottom five, followed by Somalia in 99th place; Libya, Nepal and Palestinian Territory in 98th; Bangladesh and North Korea in 97th; Eritrea and Sri Lanka in 96th; and Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria and Sudan in 95th.

The UAE remains the biggest climber of the past decade, having added 106 destinations since 2014, leaping from 55th to 11th position. China and Ukraine have added 21 countries each to their score over the last 10 years.

New research conducted by Henley & Partners links greater economic performance with visa-free access and openness to international trade, investment and the exchange of skills.


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