Passport Power Updated

Hand holding passport at airport

The latest Henley Passport Index is out. It claims to be the only one of its kind based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. The index measures the relative clout of citizens’ travel documents according to how many countries its holders can visit visa-free or visa-on-demand.

Per Forbes, towards the end of 2023, Japan lost its spot at the top of the passport ranking for the first time in five years, overtaken by Singapore. Now heading into 2024, the lead has changed again. This time an unprecedented six countries now share the top spot with visa-free access to a record-breaking number of destinations.

Four EU member states—France, Germany, Italy and Spain—join Singapore and a resurgent Japan in boasting the most powerful passports in the world, with their citizens able to visit an astonishing 194 destinations out of 227 around the globe visa-free. Over the past decade no country has climbed higher up the index than the UAE. From a 2014 ranking of 55th it has added 106 visa-free destinations to its passport, leaping 44 places to 11th with access to 183 destinations.

Back in 2014, the U.S. held the top spot with the UK. But after years of declining, it has popped back up to 7th place.  For comparison, while the U.S. has added about a dozen visa-free destinations in the past decade, Singapore has added double that in the same time period. Because there are many countries that tie, there are actually 34 countries tied for the Top 10 most powerful passports! Want to specifically see where your fits in and how it compares, go here.

In general, more powerful passports provide the holder to go to more countries without needing a tourist visa. They can often stay for a longer time and likely won’t have to provide additional documentation. Basically, all you have to do is buy your ticket and go. Weaker passports could cost you additional money paying fees, having to prove you have the money to visit, and you could even have to turn over an itinerary before entering the country.

There is an alternative passport ranking. Arton Capital’s Passport Ranking and is a rather complex but, overall, precise method to determine the ranking of passports. In its methodology, Arton Capital takes into consideration visa-free, visa-on-arrival, and visa-required accesses to form a total mobility score. However, the main decisive factor is the number of countries where the passport holder must require a visa to enter and the total of the visa-free and visa-on-arrival scores. It actually ranks the UAE tops now, followed by Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands (who all are tied).

The Nomad Capitalist Passport Ranking is yet one more that emphasizes visa-free travel but interestingly also considers numerous different factors like international tax laws, global perception, dual citizenship and personal freedom.

They also determined the UAE had the most powerful passport in 2023. After the UAE, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, Germany and Czech Republic follow. The Index is the result of aggregating data from nearly twenty unique sources, and based on priorities that Nomad Capitalist believes are important to citizens and potential citizens of each given country.

One thing that no list seems to consider is the strength of a passport not to be forged. This looks at the power of a passport from a completely different perspective. It’s a challenge the countries around the world face day in and out and updating passports to disarm forgers is a constant game of cat and mouse. Local authorities must always be one step ahead, adding newer, more secure elements to our travel documents.  Many rely on the most advanced ID reader, Osmond, when it comes to busting counterfeit documents. Maybe Osmond should be the ultimate source for suggesting which passport is most powerful then?


With 2024 now underway, the annual results of the Henley Passport Index provide insight into the world’s global power players, and the impact and legacy of the wars and the pandemic. It also gives us a tantalizing look at what lies ahead. Based on exclusive data from the world’s largest database of travel information, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), supported by serious in-house research, it ranks all 199 global passports according to the number of destinations holders can visit without needing a visa in advance.