World’s most powerful passports 2021

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As Japan tops the list for the third year running, we take a look at the latest ranking of the world’s most powerful passports

It feels a little masochistic to look at the world’s most powerful passports after a year of recurring lockdowns. However, as we’ve said before, we remain hopeful about the future of travel. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and that as soon as it is safe, people will return to the road.

With this in mind, we take a look at the newly released ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, compiled by Henley Passport Index. With historical data spanning 16 years, the index ranks passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

What are the world’s most powerful passports?

Japan is the world’s most powerful passport in 2021, granting easy access to 191 destinations. It is followed by Singapore in second place and Germany and South Korea in joint third. The complete top 10 is below.

1. Japan: 191 destinations
2. Singapore: 190
3. Germany: 189
3. South Korea: 189
4. Finland: 188
4. Italy: 188
4. Luxembourg: 188
4. Spain: 188
5. Austria: 187
5. Denmark: 187

What are the world’s least powerful passports?

Afghanistan is the world’s least powerful passport in 2021, granting easy access to only 26 destinations. It ranks just below Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. The bottom 10 are listed below. 

103. North Korea: 39 destinations
104. Libya: 38
104. Nepal: 38
105. Palestinian Territory: 37
106. Somalia: 33
106. Yemen: 33
107. Pakistan: 32
108. Syria: 29
109. Iraq: 28
110. Afghanistan: 26

The world's most powerful passports

How is the ranking calculated?

The Henley Passport Index uses data from the International Air Transport Authority to cross-check 199 passports against 227 possible travel destinations. 

For each travel destination, if no visa is required or a visa-on-arrival is available, the passport in question receives a score of 1. If a visa or other form of government approval is required before departure, the passport receives a score of 0. 

The scores for each passport are added up to produce its total score (i.e. the number of destinations to which it grants access without a prior visa). This is then ranked against all other passports to create the index. 

interesting insights

Japan holds the top position on the index for the third consecutive year, either alone or jointly with Singapore. 

Japan tops the list of the most powerful passports in the world
Travel Mania/Shutterstock Japan tops the list of the most powerful passports in the world

Over the past seven years, the US passport has fallen from the number one spot to 7th place, a position it currently shares with the UK.

North Korea has visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 39 destinations. This includes only one country in Europe: Belarus. 

The UAE has continued its remarkable upward trajectory. In 2021, it has a score of 173 and holds 16th spot on the ranking. This is a rapid ascent from 2006 when it had a score of just 35 and ranked 62nd.

The biggest climbers over the past decade are: UAE, Colombia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, Georgia and Peru. In contrast, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, The Gambia and Sierra Leone have fared the worst. 

World’s most powerful passports – ranked

RankPassportScore
1Japan191
2Singapore190
3Germany189
South Korea189
4Finland188
Italy188
Luxembourg188
Spain188
5Austria187
Denmark187
6France186
Ireland186
Netherlands186
Portugal186
Sweden186
7Belgium185
New Zealand185
Norway185
Switzerland185
United Kingdom185
United States185
8Australia184
Czech Republic184
Greece184
Malta184
9Canada183
10Hungary182
11Iceland181
Lithuania181
Poland181
Slovakia181
12Latvia180
Slovenia180
13Estonia179
14Liechtenstein178
Malaysia178
15Chile174
Cyprus174
Monaco174
16UAE173
17Romania172
18Bulgaria171
Croatia171
19Argentina170
Brazil170
Hong Kong (SAR China)170
20San Marino168
21Andorra167
22Brunei166
23Barbados161
Israel161
24Mexico159
25St. Kitts and Nevis156
26Bahamas155
27Uruguay153
Vatican City153
28Antigua and Barbuda151
Seychelles151
29Costa Rica150
Trinidad and Tobago150
30St. Vincent and the Grenadines148
31Mauritius146
St. Lucia146
32Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)145
33Grenada144
Macao (SAR China)144
34Dominica143
35Panama142
36Paraguay141
37Peru135
38El Salvador134
Honduras134
Serbia134
39Guatemala133
40Samoa131
Solomon Islands131
41Ukraine130
Vanuatu130
42Colombia129
Nicaragua129
Venezuela129
43Tuvalu127
44Tonga125
45Montenegro124
North Macedonia124
46Kiribati123
Marshall Islands123
47Moldova120
Palau Islands120
48Micronesia118
49Bosnia and Herzegovina117
50Russian Federation116
51Georgia115
52Albania114
53Turkey110
54Belize101
South Africa101
55Kuwait96
56Qatar95
57Timor-Leste94
58Ecuador92
59Nauru89
60Fiji88
Guyana88
61Jamaica86
62Botswana85
Maldives85
63Papua New Guinea84
64Bahrain83
65Oman80
66Saudi Arabia79
Thailand79
67Bolivia78
Suriname78
68Namibia77
69Lesotho76
70Belarus75
China75
Kazakhstan75
71eSwatini74
72Malawi73
73Kenya72
74Indonesia71
Tanzania71
Tunisia71
Zambia71
75The Gambia68
76Azerbaijan67
Uganda67
77Cape Verde Islands66
Dominican Republic66
Philippines66
78Ghana65
Zimbabwe65
79Cuba64
Morocco64
80Armenia63
Kyrgyzstan63
Sierra Leone63
81Benin62
Mongolia62
Mozambique62
82Sao Tome and Principe61
83Rwanda60
84Burkina Faso59
Mauritania59
85India58
Tajikistan58
86Cote d’Ivoire57
Gabon57
Uzbekistan57
87Senegal56
88Equatorial Guinea55
Guinea55
Madagascar55
Togo55
89Cambodia54
Mali54
Niger54
Vietnam54
90Bhutan53
Chad53
Comoro Islands53
Guinea-Bissau53
Turkmenistan53
91Central African Republic52
92Algeria51
Jordan51
93Angola50
Burundi50
Egypt50
Laos50
94Cameroon49
Haiti49
Liberia49
95Congo (Rep.)48
96Djibouti47
Myanmar47
97Nigeria46
98Ethiopia44
99South Sudan43
100Congo (Dem. Rep.)42
Eritrea42
Sri Lanka42
101Bangladesh41
Iran41
102Kosovo40
Lebanon40
Sudan40
103North Korea39
104Libya38
Nepal38
105Palestinian Territory37
106Somalia33
Yemen33
107Pakistan32
108Syria29
109Iraq28
110Afghanistan26

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Lead image: Sachiczko/Shutterstock

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