Before traveling to any country, one of the most important questions that intrepid travelers usually ask themselves is, Do I need a visa?
Of course, this all depends on your passport. Those who come from countries that have ‘strong passports’ are offered greater travel freedom, while those with ‘weaker’ passports need to jump through more hurdles and paperwork to get the proper visas and travel authorizations.
However, how is it possible to define a ‘strong’ passport, and what are the world’s most powerful passports? Keep reading to find out more — and see where your passport ranks!
What is the Passport Index?
It’s no secret that a passport is the most important travel document that a person can have. It opens up unlimited opportunities, gives travelers a chance to experience other countries’ cultures, and broadens one’s minds.
However, that doesn’t mean that all passports are created equal — which is where the Henley Passport Index comes in. The idea of creating a ‘passport index’ was conceived by Henley & Partners, an investment migration firm, in the late 1990s as globalization started to spread.
The Henley Passport Index is the authority when it comes to ranking passports around the world. The basis of the passport index is based on the number of countries that a citizen can travel to without getting a visa. The data is derived from the International Air Transport Association (better known as IATA), which offers the most up-to-date information regarding visas, travel documents, and restrictions.
There’s also another popular passport ranking system that’s simply called the Passport Index, which was created by Arton Capital in the mid-2000s.
Interestingly enough, Arton Capital’s Passport Index has a different methodology compared to the Henley Passport Index. Arton Capital’s index includes three different types of travel authorizations in its ranking — visa-free, visa on arrival (VoA), and eTA/eVisa. On the other hand, the Henley Passport Index simply looks at the number of countries that citizens can travel to without applying for a visa in advance.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at the most powerful passports in the world…
The World’s Most Powerful Passports in 2022: The Henley Index
Drumroll, please! The most powerful passport in the world (at least for 2022) is… Japan and Singapore.
That’s right: it’s a tie! The Japanese and Singaporean passports both had a score of 192, which is the number of visa-free destinations that a citizen of that country could visit.
That’s not all, though — the next few rankings also had many tie-ins. For example, the 2nd place winners were Germany and South Korea, whose citizens can visit 190 countries without a visa.
Third place was a tough call, as four countries vied for the title: Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain. Citizens of these countries can travel to 189 countries without the need for a visa.
Finally, there were even more countries competing for fourth place — Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
The United States and the United Kingdom tied for 6th place, while Australia and Canada came in 7th. Another world power, China, was all the way down in 64th place, with only 80 visa-free countries.
Interestingly enough, the countries that took the top three spots this year had the exact same results in 2021.
What Countries Have the Weakest Passports?
While countries in Asia and the European Union continue to dominate the charts with powerful passports, another question comes up: what are the countries with the weakest passports?
According to the Henley Passport Index, the weakest passport in 2022 is that of Afghanistan.
Citizens who hold an Afghan passport can only travel to 26 countries visa-free. There are four countries where a visa is not required at all, which include Dominicana, Haiti, Micronesia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Likewise, another twelve countries offer Afghani citizens the ability to get an electronic visa (eVisa).
Besides Afghanistan, the five countries at the bottom of Henley’s Passport Index include Iraq (28 visa-free countries), Syria (29), Pakistan (31), Yemen (33), and Somalia (34). There are two regions tied for 105th place — Nepal and Palestinian Territory — with North Korea one rank above them.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index
Although the majority of people use the Henley Passport Index to gauge the world’s strongest passports, it’s always interesting to see this topic examined from a different perspective.
For example, Arton Capital’s Passport Index ranks the United Arab Emirates passport as the most powerful in 2022, with a ‘mobility score’ of 162. To break it down, this passport has visa-free access to 110 countries, a visa on arrival for 52, and a visa required for only 36 countries.
In the second place, we have Sweden, Finland, and Italy, which each have a score of 159.
Third place has even more competitors: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, France, and South Korea were all issued a mobility score of 158.
On the flip side, the countries at the bottom of the list include Pakistan (40 mobility score), Somalia (39), Iraq and Syria (both 36), and Afghanistan (35).