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France, Germany, Italy, and Spain Lead the World’s Most Powerful Passports

Citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain can visit 194 countries without a visa—more than anywhere else

January 24, 2024

Illustration: Courtesy of Coen Pohl

Global travel can be much easier for some compared to others, and their nationality—or, more specifically, which passport they hold—plays a big part in this. While the most powerful passports allow visa-free entry to most countries, the least powerful provide access to just a few dozen nations.

Citizenship and migration consultancy firm Henley & Partners has released its annual list of the world’s most powerful passports based on how many countries it allows holders to visit without a visa. The Henley Passport Index for 2024 reveals that the difference between the most and least powerful is stark, and the gap is getting bigger, also unveiling some changes from last year’s ranking.

European countries dominate the list of most powerful passports in the world, with four E.U. nations—France, Germany, Italy, and Spain—joining Japan and Singapore at the top of the rankings with visa-free access to 194 countries and territories each. The two Asian nations had been sitting alone at the top of the list for the past five years.

Photo: Italian passport. Courtesy of Francesca Tirico / Unsplash

Meanwhile, the other end of the scale is dominated by Middle Eastern nations, with Afghanistan holding the title of the world’s least powerful passport, providing visa-free access to just 28 other countries and territories. Syria isn’t far behind with access to just 29, and Iraq with 31.

The world’s most powerful passports offer the chance to visit 166 more countries without requiring a visa compared to the least powerful. And, even more alarmingly for nations nearer the bottom of the list, this gap has surged dramatically over the last two decades.

“The average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024,” said Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners. “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.”

The U.S. passport provides visa-free access to 188 destinations, ranking it seventh globally, alongside Canada and Hungary. However, a decade ago, the U.S. had the world’s most powerful passport and the U.K. This highlights the changing dynamics in recent years.

The United Arab Emirates, in 11th place with access to 183 destinations, has been the fastest climber over the last decade. China has also climbed the rankings significantly over the last ten years, offering access to almost double the number of destinations than it did in 2014. However, its current access to 85 countries and territories gives it a fairly low ranking 62nd—on a par with Papua New Guinea.

Here are the top ten most powerful passports in the world, according to Henley & Partners:

Rank Countries Number of Visa-Free Destinations
1 France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain 194
2 Finland, South Korea, Sweden 193
3 Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands 192
4 Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom 191
5 Greece, Malta, Switzerland 190
6 Australia, Czechia, New Zealand, Poland 189
7 Canada, Hungary, United States 188
8 Estonia, Lithuania 187
9 Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia 186
10 Iceland 185

 

Here are the ten least powerful passports in the world, according to Henley & Partners:

Rank Countries Number of Visa-Free Destinations
104 Afghanistan 28
103 Syria 29
102 Iraq 31
101 Pakistan 34
100 Yemen 35
99 Somalia 36
98 Libya, Nepal, Palestinian Territories 40
97 Bangladesh, North Korea 42
96 Eritrea, Sri Lanka 43
95 Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan 45