For some people, their passport is their key to the world, for others, their passport is the exact opposite, acting as a barrier to travel freedom. So which passports hold the most power? And which hold the least?

The Henley Passport Index has taken an in-depth look at exactly that in their freshly released report based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association.

The most powerful passport is not the Australian one. In fact, the Aussie passport has slipped to 9th place in this report (with visa-free access to 180 countries) from 8th place in 2016.

The top spot for the third quarter of 2019 was a tie between Japan and Singapore with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 189.

This marks an 18-month long winning streak for both countries after they knocked Germany off its long-held first position at the beginning of 2018.

Falling from the first place spot it shared with Japan and Singapore last quarter, South Korea now sits in second place on the index along with Finland and Germany. Citizens of all three countries able to access 187 destinations around the world without a prior visa.

Finland’s ascent from third to second place is thanks to recent changes to Pakistan’s highly restrictive visa policy.

Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg sit jointly in 3rd place on the index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186, while France, Spain, and Sweden are in joint 4th place, each with a score of 185

With a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 183, the UK and the US now share 6th place – the lowest position either country has held since 2010, and a significant drop from their 1st place spot in 2014.

In another first, the United Arab Emirates has entered the index’s top 20 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 are able to travel to without a prior visa.


Other strong climbers include Taiwan, which has climbed 24 places over the past ten years and now sits in 30th place, and Serbia, which has also climbed 24 places in the past decade and is now 41st place.

Afghanistan sits alone in 109th and last place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 25.

Dr Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept said: “with a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress”.


Are you surprised by Australia’s ranking?