Japan has entered 2019 with the world’s most powerful passport, a new global ranking has revealed.
Citizens of Japan can visit 190 countries around the world visa-free. The Singaporean and South Korean passports are in joint second place on 189 countries.
However, both the UK and USA passports have dropped down the ranking from fifth in 2018 and are both in sixth place now on 185 countries.4
The ranking has been produced by the Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It analyses how many countries a passport holder can enter visa-free or on a visa-on-arrival basis.
The German and French passports remain in third place going into 2019 with a visa-free score of 188.
In joint fourth are the passports of Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden on 187 countries followed by Luxembourg and Spain on 186 countries.
The UK and USA share sixth place with the Austrian, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swiss passports.
The Henley Passport Index said that sixth place is a significant fall for the UK and USA passports, because both held top spot in 2015.
And it added that it is unlikely that either country will reclaim the top spot any time soon.
Predicting the future standing of the UK is especially difficult as the picture is muddied by Brexit.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of Belgium, Canada, Greece and Ireland in seventh place, the Czech Republic in eighth, Malta in ninth and Australia, Iceland and New Zealand in 10th.
The Henley Passport Index also singled out several countries that have shot up the rankings in recent years.
Going into 2019, China now sits in 69th place, with access to 74 countries around the world.
Similarly, the United Arab Emirates continues its upward trajectory, now holding top spot in the Middle East region and 22nd place globally.
As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions on the index.
Malta sits in ninth spot, with access to 182 destinations and St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively.
Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th, with citizens able to access 122 countries.
At the bottom end of the table, the world’s least powerful passport is that issued by Afghanistan, as citizens only have access to 30 countries.
Syrian and Somalian passports also fair poorly with access to just 32 destinations, as does the Pakistani passport with visa-free travel to 33 countries.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, group chairman of Henley & Partners, says despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, most countries remain committed to collaboration and mutually beneficial agreements.
He explained: ‘Historical data from the Henley Passport Index over the past 14 years shows an overwhelming global tendency towards visa-openness.