The most powerful passports in the world in 2024

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The Henley Passport Index provides an up-to-date insight into the state of freedom to travel worldwide. Based on data from the world’s largest database for travel information, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), among others, the ranking compiled by the consulting firm Henley & Partners lists all 199 passports in the world according to the number of destinations that passport holders can visit without first applying for a visa.

Towards the end of 2023, Japan lost its place at the top of the pass rankings for the first time in five years and was overtaken by Singapore. At the beginning of 2024, things changed again at the top. This time, six countries share the top spot with visa-free access to a record-breaking number of destinations. Four EU countries—France, Germany, Italy, and Spain—as well as Singapore and a resurgent Japan—currently have the most powerful passports in the world, allowing their citizens to visit an astonishing 194 out of 227 destinations around the globe without a visa.

Asia and Europe continue to dominate the index. South Korea, Finland, and Sweden share second place with 193 visa-free destinations. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands are close behind with 192 destinations. The United Kingdom has improved slightly compared to last year and can now travel to three more countries without a visa. This puts it in 191st place, sharing fourth place with Luxembourg, Portugal, and Norway. After a decade of decline, the USA has also turned the corner and has climbed one place to seventh place. 188 countries, including Canada and Hungary, can be visited without a visa. The fact is that both the United Kingdom and the USA are still a long way off the level they were at ten years ago when they jointly occupied first place in the world rankings.
Climbers and relegated countries
Bringing up the rear in the index is Afghanistan, which is in 104th place with just 28 visa-free destinations, just behind Syria and Iraq. While Henley & Partners chairman Christian H. Kaelin points out that the general trend in the history of the 19-year-old ranking is towards greater freedom to travel, he notes that the global mobility gap between those at the top and those at the bottom of the index is now wider than ever before. “The average number of destinations to which travelers can travel visa-free has almost doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024. However, at the start of the new year, the top-ranked countries can travel to 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan.”

In the last ten years, no country has climbed higher in the index than the United Arab Emirates. From 55th place in 2014, the country has added 106 visa-free destinations to its passport and has climbed 44 places to eleventh place, with access to 183 destinations. Other major climbers are Ukraine and China, which have each moved up 21 places in the last ten years. Ukraine is now in 32nd place with 148 visa-free destinations, and China is in 62nd place with access to 85 destinations, both up from last year. While Russia has improved by 24 destinations in the last ten years, the number of visa-free destinations and its ranking have hardly changed since 2017, so the country is now in 51st place with 119 destinations.

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