The World’s 25 Most Powerful Passports

The U.S. is good—but not the best—when it comes to passports.
The U.S. is good—but not the best—when it comes to passports. / Spencer Davis, Unsplash

Each year, a global residence and citizenship planning firm called Henley & Partners analyzes data from the International Air Transport Association and releases the “Henley Passport Index.” Basically, it’s a list that ranks 199 countries by how many places you can visit using each country’s passport (without needing to get a visa in advance).

While the coronavirus pandemic has prompted government officials to close many borders to international guests in the past year, you won’t see those changes reflected in the latest index—the Henley researchers have omitted temporary travel limitations from their analysis. What you will see is Japan defending its first place title, which the nation has now earned for three years in a row. If you happen to have a Japanese passport, 191 countries are happy to have you visit (again, pandemic notwithstanding). Japan’s Asia-Pacific neighbors, Singapore and South Korea, took second and third place, respectively.

The rest of the top 25 mostly comprises European nations, but those top three indicate a recent shift away from European (and American) dominance of the index. According to a press release, the most powerful passports used to usually belong to residents of the U.S., the UK, or Europe. This year, the U.S. and the UK are tied in seventh place with Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, and New Zealand.

But before you start worrying that your passport won’t grant you hassle-free access to your dream destination, you might want to glance at the numbers; U.S. passports are accepted in 185 countries. That said, planning a trip during the pandemic is definitely ill-advised—in fact, more than 100 of those countries aren’t allowing U.S. visitors right now, anyway.

Take a look at the top 25 below, and find out more about the Henley Passport Index here.

1. Japan // 191
2. Singapore // 190
3. South Korea // 189
3. Germany // 189
4. Italy // 188
4. Finland // 188
4. Spain // 188
4. Luxembourg // 188
5. Denmark // 187
5. Austria // 187
6. Sweden // 186
6. France // 186
6. Portugal // 186
6. Netherlands // 186
6. Ireland // 186
7. Switzerland // 185
7. United States // 185
7. United Kingdom // 185
7. Norway // 185
7. Belgium // 185
7. New Zealand // 185
8. Greece // 184
8. Malta // 184
8. Czech Republic // 184
8. Australia // 184