The World’s Most Powerful Passports In 2023 Revealed
— Updated on 22 March 2023

The World’s Most Powerful Passports In 2023 Revealed

— Updated on 22 March 2023
Garry Lu
WORDS BY
Garry Lu

Not all travel documents are printed equally. And in 2023, the world’s most powerful passports are (once again) from Japan, Singapore and South Korea according to the Henley Passport Index (HPI). Although this year, Japan shoots ahead to take the uncontested number one spot while both Singapore and South Korea take the second spot.

Here are the annual insights for another year.


The Good

Yes, that’s right. As per the Henley Passport Index (HPI), The Land of the Rising Sun and The Garden City have topped the list for the fifth consecutive year. Japan is capable of securing visa-free travel to a whopping total of 193 countries and territories out of 227, enjoying travel freedom like no other. To take a different approach, that’s 85% of the world.

Meanwhile, Singapore and South Korea miss out on having the world’s most powerful passports, with visa-free access to 192 countries.


The Not-So-Bad

Japan and Singapore are followed quite closely by Spain and Germany in second place, the latter two offering visa-free travel to 190 countries.

From third place onwards, Europe dominates up until New Zealand and the United States — which shares sixth place with Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The count? 186 countries. Gotta love the European Union.

As for the matter of us Aussie battlers, Australia finds itself in seventh place alongside Canada, Greece, and Malta with easy access to 185 countries.


The Downright Ugly (Opposite Of Travel Friendly)

On the other end of the spectrum, the situation looks rather – how do we put this delicately – dire. Believe it or not, with a ranking of #102, North Korea isn’t even at the bottom of Henley & Partner’s list (although it’d certainly sting nonetheless knowing where South Korea sits).

The honour of the world’s least powerful passport belongs to Afghanistan at #109. Passport holders from the beleaguered Taliban-controlled nation can only gain visa free access to just 27 international destinations out of 227 due to severely limited diplomatic ties. And keep in mind, several countries and territories in this meagre total still require the traveller to apply for a visa on arrival.

With a 166 differential, 2023 represents the widest mobility gap between the top and the bottom of the list since the passport index concept was established almost two decades ago.

Check out the world’s most powerful passports and least powerful passports for 2022 below – data sourced from the International Air Transport Association, analysed by immigration consultants Henley & Partners.

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World's Most Powerful Passports Most Powerful Passports In The World 2022

The World’s Most Powerful Passports (2023)

  1. Japan (193)
  2. Singapore, South Korea (192)
  3. Germany, Spain (190)
  4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189)
  5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (188)
  6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom (187)
  7. Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States (186)
  8. Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta (185)
  9. Hungary, Poland (184)
  10. Lithuania, Slovakia (183)

The World’s Least Powerful Passports (2023)

  1. Afghanistan (27)
  2. Iraq (29)
  3. Syria (30)
  4. Pakistan (32)
  5. Yemen (34)
  6. Somalia (35)
  7. Palestinian Territories, Nepal (38)
  8. North Korea (40)
  9. Libya, Kosovo, Bangladesh (41)
  10. Sudan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Congo (42)

Check out the full Henley & Partners rankings here.


What Is The Henley Passport Index?

According to Henley & Partners themselves…

“The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team. Expert insights regarding the latest ranking are available in the Global Mobility Report 2022 Q2.”

“With historical data spanning 17 years, the Henley Passport Index is the only one of its kind based on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. Updated quarterly, it’s considered the standard reference tool for global citizens and sovereign states when assessing where a passport ranks on the global mobility spectrum.”

World's Most Powerful Passports Most Powerful Passports In The World 2022

Are There Other Passport Indexes?

Henley & Partner’s passport index is just one of several created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide.

While the HPI is by far the most prominent (and recognisable), Arton Capital’s Passport Index is yet another list worth considering. It organises the official travel documents of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories: ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, and the Vatican — territories annexed to other countries are excluded.

In 2022, the United Arab Emirates occupies the top spot in the ACPI with a visa free / visa on arrival score of 160.

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How Do You Determine Passport Strength?

As explained by OnlineVisa, all sovereign states issue passports to their citizens, and these documents are (obviously) essential to travel to other countries. Although many destinations also require visitors to have a visa to cross their borders.

In certain cases, a country’s visa policy may allow travellers of certain nationalities to visit without a visa for a set period of time. This is usually due to agreements between the countries in question. In these situations, the traveller’s passport is all that is needed. The more countries a traveller can access visa free, the more powerful their passport.

The Henley Passport Index sets out to rank global passports according to where holders can enter without applying for a visa in advance – including both embassy visas and online visas – and identifies powerful passports as the ones which allow the holder to visit the most countries with any of the following:

  • Passport only
  • Electronic travel authorization (eTA) / online visa waiver
  • Visa on arrival access

COVID-19 Considerations

A terrorist-occupied nation, a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and regular old politics aren’t the sole factors impacting international travel these days. Like other facets of modern living, there’s the lingering matter of the ongoing health crisis. 

COVID-19 has forever altered how we navigate borders, presenting travellers with an evolving run sheet of entry forms, QR codes, testing requirements, and the like just to secure entry.

“The emergence of new variants has resulted in a number of wholesale travel bans between countries — however limited in duration, explains Anne Quito of Quartz.

“Most recently, the highly transmissible omicron variant resulted in a kind of travel apartheid against poorer nations, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said last month.”

“Speaking in New York, Guterres decried blanket travel bans based on nationality as both ‘deeply unfair’ and ultimately ineffective; he argued that only regular testing will slow the spread of COVID.”

“The freedom and mobility of a country’s citizens are likewise impacted by which vaccines they have access to, and whether they’ve been approved by the World Health Organization.”

“Vaccine passports, which once held the hope of negating the requirement for travel restrictions, are likely to expire after certain time periods,” adds Swiss health expert Dr Andreas Brauchlin via blog post.

“Seemingly, an individual’s health and vaccination status are as influential on mobility as their passport’s visa free access.”

Garry Lu
WORDS by
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]

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