Visa-Free Travel: A Comparison of the Most Powerful Passports

As the new year 2023 started, The Henley Passport Index recently released its latest rankings for the most powerful passports in the world.

The first and last on the list of Visa-Free Destinations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) ranks all the 199 passports of the world on the basis of visa-free travel. Japan tops the list for the fifth consecutive year with its citizens being able to visit 193 out of 227 destinations with no requirement of a visa. South Korea and Singapore come together in a tie for the second position with their citizens being able to visit 192 places out of 227.

Germany and Spain come in tied for third place with their citizens able to visit 190 destinations visa-free. Whereas, the US stands in the sixth position with 187 visa-free destinations and the UK stands in the eighth position with 186 visa-free destinations.

With countries like Japan and South Korea having the lead, it seems difficult for both the US and the UK to get their old spot back which they first had over a decade ago.

Afghanistan has a steady spot at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index. It has a score of just 27 destinations out of 227 – more so 166 fewer than the first position of Japan.

Travel Recommendation: 1-week vacation plan for maximum recreation in Dubai

Probabilities of Visa-Free Access by Henley & Partners:

Chairman of Henley & Partners, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin says “For global citizens, a better measure of economic mobility and fiscal opportunity afforded by their passports is to look at the percentage share of global GDP accessible to them visa-free”. He adds “Our latest research into how much the global economy access each passport provides is a useful tool for investors and gives new insights into the ever-widening inequality and wealth disparity that defines our world”.

Henley & Partners further opens up the fact that only 6% of the countries provide their people with visa-free destinations to 70% of the world. Whereas, only 17% of the countries give their citizens visa-free passports to the other four-fifths of the 227 destinations worldwide. Hence, 70% are the rare destinations that fewer people get the right to visit visa-free. and a small percentage of the other countries are the common ones out there.

Japanese passport citizens have the right provided to visit 85% of the 227 destinations that make up the global economy to be 98%, 5% of it being Japan’s own GDP contribution. The Nigerian passport comes on the lowest end of the list and accounts for only 20% of the 227 destinations, 1.5% being from the same, Nigeria’s own GDP contribution. As Afghanistan is the last one, it has visa-free access to only 12% of the 227 destinations and contributes to the global economy with 1% or less.

Percentages of Global GDP for each country:

Directors of Economic Research and Statistics at the Islamic Development Bank Institute say that bigger access to the world’s economy’s output can have pros because it can evolve and expand the products available to any person. It has advantages from the physical point of view as well as an extension to non-exportable services such as quality education and healthcare.

On the basis of the percentage of the global GDP, countries like the US and China have a highly satisfactory share; the US having 29% and China has 19%. It is important to note that these figures are not related to visa-free access for the citizens of these countries. On the other hand, people who have American passports have a share of 43% and a total of 68%. Chinese passport holders have 7% visa-free access and 26% of the global GDP.

South Korea and Russia have similar national GDPS with both having 1.9%. But because South Korea has a visa-free score of 192, its holders have access to a good 81% of the global GDP and Russia has a score of 118, making its global GDP 19%.

India, having the world’s fifth largest economy, has a global GDP of 6.8%, national GDP of 0.5%, and access to only 59 visa-free destinations.

Effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war on their passports:

The ranking of Russia in the Henley Passport Index has been significantly affected by the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian War. Russia stands in the 49th position with a score of 113 while Ukraine stands 13 steps above with the 36th position and a score of 144. Due to the war, Russia has closed many air routes and links causing their citizens to barely travel much and cutting down even those places it could have easily accounted for. Though it has exceptions in UAE and Turkey. Russia has stopped processing visas and passports for its citizens. It has also faced a downfall in the list of the most powerful passports around the world. The analysts believe that it will continue to decrease in rank if the war grows.

In the midst of the troubles of the war, Ukrainians are given the right to settle in Europe and have their jobs and everything there. Ukraine has gradually become one of the most powerful passports as it came 24 spots near in just the last 10 years and is expected to enter the top ten list if it collaborates with Europe. After Ukraine applied for EU candidate status in June last year, it was consulted and decided to start in the next few months.

More Growth and Downfall:

Asian countries continue to rule at the top of the list. Despite that, in the last decade, the UAE has jumped above 49 places as it has a score of 178, with the position 15th and nearly 70% of the global GDP. It has been expected that Kuwait and Qatar will join the EU resulting in quickly enhancing their global GDP and ranks on the list.

Next Read: Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways: The Ultimate Comparison

Zalah Khan
Zalah is LLB Graduate from the University of Westminster and joined the hopdes team in June 2022. She has been a linguistics expert and interpreter for a few years at Pearl Linguistics in London dealing with people mostly from the middle-east side. She loves the thrills and adventures embedded deeply into her genes owing to her biracial Pashtun and Persian heritage. She speaks Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Pashtu and English. Whilst she is afraid of heights but her adrenaline pushes her to take the 60-foot leap of faith body slide everytime she is at the Aqua Venture Water Park in Dubai. She recently went onto the Jebel Jais Flight at speeds of up to 150km/h (93mph) along a 2.8km (1.7-mile) cable weighing more than six tonnes. She was last seen at the Museum Of Illusions at the Dubai Creek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *