Over the past five years, the UAE has more than doubled the number of destinations its citizens are able to travel to without a prior visa, seeing it enter the top 20 for the first time.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on July 3, 2019

The most powerful passports in the world, those that allow you to travel to the greatest amount of countries visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival, have been revealed for 2019.

The Henley Passport Index Third Quarter Update, based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), shows that Singapore and Japan have the most powerful passports, which allow the holder to go to 189 destinations in the world visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival.

The two countries have held the title of “world’s most powerful passports” since the beginning of 2018, toppling the previous titleholders.

The best passports to hold in mid-2019 are:

  1. Japan, Singapore (189 destinations)
  2. Finland, Germany, South Korea (187)
  3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (186)
  4. France, Spain, Sweden (185)
  5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland (184)
  6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, UK, US (183)
  7. Malta (182)
  8. Czech Republic (181)
  9. Australia, Iceland, Lithuania, New Zealand (180)
  10. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (179)

South Korea now sits in second place along with Finland and Germany, with citizens of all three countries can access 187 destinations around the world without a prior visa. Finland rose from third to second following recent changes to Pakistan’s formerly highly restrictive visa policy.

In the hope of attracting tourists and boosting its struggling economy, Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries. This includes Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg sit jointly in third place on the index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186. France, Spain and Sweden are in joint fourth place, each with a score of 185.

Singapore and Japan passports are the most powerful in the world
Singapore and Japan passports are the most powerful in the world.

With a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 183, the UK and the US now share 6th place. This is the lowest position either country has held since 2010 and marks a significant drop from the UK’s first place spot in 2014.

The Henley Passport Index warned that the UK’s ranking could get even worse in the years to come.

“Throughout most of the index’s history, the UK has held one of the top five places in the ranking,” it said. “However, with its exit from the EU now imminent, the UK’s once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain.

“The Brexit process has not yet had a direct impact on the UK’s ranking, but new research using exclusive historical data from the Henley Passport Index indicates that this could change, with consequences that extend beyond a decline in passport power.”

Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg sit jointly in third place on the index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186. France, Spain, and Sweden are in joint 4th place, each with a score of 185.

In significant shifts elsewhere in the rankings, the UAE has entered the top 20 for the first time in the index’s 14-year history, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 165. Over the past five years, the UAE has more than doubled the number of destinations its citizens can travel to without a prior visa.

Afghanistan continues to hold the bottom spot on the index, offering its citizens visa-free access to only 25 destinations worldwide.

Dr Christian H Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, said: “This latest research appears to confirm something that many of us already knew intuitively: that increased visa-openness benefits the entire global community, and not just the strongest countries.”

The Henley Passport Index covers 199 passports and 227 possible travel destinations.