Singapore, Japan lose their edge – world’s most powerful passports for 2024

In a big shakeup of a quarterly ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, an unprecedented six countries are tied in the top spot for the hottest travel documents for 2024.

Citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to an incredible 194 destinations around the world – the highest number recorded since the Henley Passport Index began tracking global travel freedoms 19 years ago. The index is created by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, using exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Asian nations of Japan and Singapore have dominated the No.1 spot for the past five years, but the new top five is a triumphant rise for Europe. Finland and Sweden are tied with South Korea in second place – with easy access to 193 destinations –while Austria, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands come third (with 192 destinations).

Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom are at No. 4, while Greece, Malta and Switzerland are at No. 5.

Australia and New Zealand have improved their rankings and are now at No. 6 alongside Czechia and Poland. The United States and Canada, meanwhile, are tied in seventh place, along with Hungary, with visa-free access to 188 destinations.

Growing gap

The United Arab Emirates remains the biggest climber on the index over the past decade, adding a whopping 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014, and earning it 11th position this year.

Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners and creator of the passport index, said in a statement that while the general trend over the past two decades has been towards greater travel freedom, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever.

“The average number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024,” says Kaelin. “However, the top-ranked countries are now able to travel to a staggering 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to just 28 countries without a visa.” Syria – with visa-free access to only 29 destinations – is second-lowest in the ranking. Iraq can access 31 and Pakistan can access 34.

Henley & Partners’ list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.

Multiple indexes

Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories – Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.

It’s also updated in real time throughout the year, but its data is gathered by close monitoring of individual governments’ portals. It’s a tool “for people who travel, to provide accurate, simple-to-acess information for their travel needs,” Arton Capital’s founder Armand Arton told CNN in 2022.

Arton’s Global Passport Power Rank 2024 puts the United Arab Emirates in the top spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 180.

As for second place, that’s held by five European countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland are at No.3, while the UK and the US are down in 5th and 6th place respectively.

Arton Capital’s 2023 roundup noted the rise last year in global mobility gains by regional power hubs such as Hong Kong, Macao and Monaco – but it declared Albania its “rising star.”  “Demand for its famously hardworking citizens has dramatically increased, with governments queuing up to make it easier for Albanians to live and work in their countries,” Arton Capital said in a release.

The world’s most powerful passports for 2024

• France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain (194 destinations)

• Finland, South Korea, Sweden (193 destinations)

• Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands (192 destinations)

• Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom (191 destinations)

• Greece, Malta, Switzerland (190 destinations)

• Czech Republic, New Zealand, Poland (189 destinations)

• Canada, Hungary, United States (188 destinations)

• Estonia, Lithuania (187 destinations)

• Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (186 destinations)

• Iceland (185 destinations) – CNN

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