InsiderBusinessThe world's most (and least) powerful passports in 2023 revealed

The world’s most (and least) powerful passports in 2023 revealed

As we enter 2023, the latest results from the Henley Passport Index provide insights into the relationship between passport power and economic mobility.

For the fifth year running, Japan crowns the Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Specifically, holders of Japanese passports can access 193 destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free.

Tied in second place are South Koreans and Singaporeans who enjoy visa-free travel to 192 destinations.

Germany and Spain are joint third, with visa-free access to 190 destinations worldwide. The UK and the US remain in sixth and seventh places, with scores of 187 and 186, respectively.

The Cypriot passport was in place 16, granting visa-free access to 177 countries.

On the other side, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with a score of just 27.

As indicated by new research by residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners into the link between passport strength and access to the global economy, citizens of the index’s lowest-ranking countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq (visa-free score of 29), and Syria (visa-free score of 30) are effectively shut out of a wide breadth of opportunities for economic mobility and growth.

Commenting in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2023 Q1, launched today alongside the 2023 Henley Passport Index, financial writer and global investment expert Jeff D. Opdyke says although we don’t often think of our passports in a financial sense, they are a gateway to fiscal opportunity. “A stronger passport isn’t just about greater freedom of movement: it’s about greater financial freedoms in terms of investing and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

The war in Ukraine: shockwaves continue

The Ukraine war is yet to have a significant impact on the Henley Passport Index scores of Russia and Ukraine, with both countries retaining roughly the same position “on paper” since the invasion began. Russia is currently ranked 49th with a score of 118, while Ukraine sits 13 places above, ranking 36th with a score of 144. However, due to airspace closures and sanctions, Russian citizens are effectively barred from travelling throughout most of the West.

Ukrainians, on the other hand, have been granted the right to live and work in the EU for up to three years under an emergency plan. Already one of the biggest climbers on the Henley Passport Index, moving up 24 places over the past decade, Ukraine would likely break into the top ten if it were to join the EU.

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