Travel TrendsTwo Asian countries share first place for most powerful passport in 2022, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.

Who takes the spot for 2022's most powerful passport?

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The Russian-Ukraine war is causing an upheaval in passport rankings.
The Russian-Ukraine war is causing an upheaval in passport rankings. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/mthipsorn

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It’s a close fight between the countries this year, but for the third year in a row, Singapore and Japan continue to emerge at the top for jointly having the world’s most powerful passport, reveals Henley Passport Index’s latest global ranking for Q2 2022.

The ranking has been produced by the Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It analyses the number of countries a passport holder can enter without a prior visa.

Singaporeans and Japanese enjoy visa-free travel to total of 192 countries. Meanwhile, South Korea and Germany share second place, with passport holders able to access 190 destinations. Coming in third place are Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain with a score of 189.

The UK and the US passports are slowly but surely climbing back up the top after both powerhouses ranked 8th in 2020, the lowest spot held by either country in the Henley Passport Index’s 17-year history. The UK, being one of the first few countries who have dropped all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, now sits at the fifth place, followed by the US at the sixth place.

At the bottom of the list, Afghanistan ranks last, seven places lower than North Korea. Afghans are able to access just 26 destinations. Several countries had severed diplomatic ties after the Taliban seized control of major cities, including the capital of Kabul in August 2021.

The Taliban insurgency against the Afghan government was not the only political conflict to impact a country’s standing on the list. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, many countries have relaxed or entirely dropped their entry policies and visa requirements for Ukrainian passport holders, as the report shows that Ukraine has risen to an all-time high ranking at the 34th spot, with 143 visa-free countries accessible to Ukrainians.

In a show of solidarity, the EU, US, Canada and other countries have banned Russian airlines from flying into their airspaces, imposed stringent travel bans on Russian citizens, and many are not even offering the option for Russians to apply for visas, effectively rendering “the Russian passport to junk status throughout much of the developed world,” Henley & Partners said in a statement.

The power of the Russian passport is already on the decline. It has dropped four places to 49th with a score of 117 visa-free countries. The Henley & Partners’ report suggests that its status will continue to fall as more sanction and suspensions are formalised.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the brainchild of the passport index, says the latest update provides a unique snapshot of a volatile and rapidly changing world.

“As the value of the Russian passport rapidly declines and the world opens its doors to Ukrainians, it is abundantly clear that the passport you hold determines your fate and dramatically impacts the opportunities you have,” Kaelin added. “While it is impossible to predict what the world will look like in the shadow of a new Cold War, the latest index suggests that the divide between Russia and much of the Western world will only increase.”

The strongest passports

Rank
 CountryNo. of countries citizens can travel to visa-free
 1 Singapore, Japan 192
 2 South Korea, Germany 190
 3 Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain 189
 4 Australia, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Sweden 188
 5 Ireland, Portugal 187
 6 Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States 186
 7 Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta 185
 8 Hungary, Poland 183
 9 Lithuania, Slovakia 182
 10 Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia 181

The weakest passports

Rank
 Country No. of destinations citizens can visit without a visa
 111 Afghanistan  26
 110 Iraq  28
 109 Syria  29
 108 Pakistan 31
 107 Yemen 33
 106 Somalia 34
 105 Nepal, Palestinian Territory 37
 104 North Korea 39
 103 Libya, Kosovo, Bangladesh 40
 102 Lebanon 41
 101 Iran, Congo 42

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