Japan entered the New Year retaining its top spot on the Henley Passport Index, due to its citizens enjoying visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations.
Asian passport power is well illustrated in 2019 with Singapore and South Korea now in joint second place, with access to 189 destinations.
Germany and France follow on in the new rankings, with a visa-free score of 188.
The US and the UK continue their drop down the index which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — and now sit in joint sixth place. The countries shared first place back in 2015.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, most countries remain committed to collaboration and mutually beneficial agreements.
“Historical data from the Henley Passport Index over the past 14 years shows an overwhelming global tendency towards visa-openness. In 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107,” Kälin adds.
China’s steady ascent up the rankings is a clear demonstration of this new tendency. In 2017, the country was ranked 85th on the index, with citizens able to access just 51 destinations. Going into 2019, China now sits in 69th place, with access to 74 countries around the world. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates continues its upward trajectory, now holding top spot in the Middle East region and 22nd place globally.
As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions on the index. Malta sits in 9th spot, with access to 182 destinations and St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries.
Afghanistan and Iraq continue to hold joint last place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 30.
The Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and it is enhanced by ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.
The Henley Passport Index is updated in real-time, as and when visa-policy changes come into effect.