Singapore Claims the Top Spot: 2023 Passport Rankings Reveal Shift in Global Travel Freedom
For the past five years, Japan has held the coveted No. 1 position in the Henley Passport Index, a measure of global travel freedom based on visa-free and visa-on-demand access enjoyed by different citizens. However, the latest rankings for summer 2023 have seen Japan fall to third place, with Singapore emerging as the new titleholder. Singaporean citizens can now visit an impressive 193 destinations out of 227 without the need for a visa.
In a notable shift, Europe is making a comeback in the rankings. Germany, Italy, and Spain have climbed to the second spot, providing their citizens with visa-free access to 190 destinations. Joining Japan and South Korea in the third spot are Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, and Sweden, granting their citizens access to 189 destinations visa-free.
In contrast, the United States and the United Kingdom have seen a decline in their rankings since jointly holding the top spot in 2014. The UK, however, has rebounded to the fourth position, its highest since 2017, while the US has slipped to the eighth spot with visa-free access to only 183 destinations.
The Henley Passport Index, which ranks 199 passports globally based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), continually updates its rankings as visa policies change throughout the year.
The report from Henley & Partners highlights that over the 18-year history of the ranking, the average number of destinations accessible visa-free has nearly doubled, rising from 58 in 2006 to 109. However, the gap in travel freedom between the top and bottom-ranked passports is now wider than ever. Citizens of Afghanistan can only visit 27 destinations without a prior visa, followed closely by Iraq (29 destinations) and Syria (30 destinations).
Singapore’s ascent to the top spot is attributed to its efforts in securing greater travel freedom for its citizens over the past decade, gaining visa-free access to 25 new destinations. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates ranks first in Arton Capital’s Passport Index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 180.
The Henley Passport Index serves as one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports based on the travel access they afford their citizens. As travelers seek to explore more destinations visa-free, the passport rankings continue to be a closely monitored and evolving aspect of global mobility.