The Most Powerful Passports In The World In 2020

Your passport is your key through the doorway to the rest of the world. At least, that’s how we like to think of it – but in reality for many it’s every bit as much a barrier to global freedom. And that’s because different passports carry different powers to give you access to where you want to go.

With 2020 now upon us, The Henley Passport Index has updated its Global Mobility Report that examines the power of each nation’s passport. Ranking the most to the least powerful, it also delivers an in-depth look at mobility trends around the world examining which countries you can visit without a visa, or if you need one with which type of visa, as well as how passports have changed over the last 14 years, how they compare globally and why your passport has the level of access it does.

Based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) (the world’s largest database of travel information) and backed up by significant in-house research, it reveals that the world kicks off the 21st century’s third decade with Japan’s passport occupying the number one spot for the third year running.

Travelers with a Japanese passport have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 different destinations. A close second, Singapore’s passport grants access to 190 destinations, with joint third taken by South Korea and Europe’s first entry, Germany, with 189 accessible places each.

This Asian domination of the top spots is, according to Henley & Partners chairman and inventor of the passport index concept Dr Christian H Kaelin, “a clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies and the introduction of mutually beneficial trade agreements.”

Kaelin explains, “Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life. The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it.”

The remainder of the top ten is taken by European countries, with the first non-European or Asian nation being the USA at eighth spot alongside the UK. With 184 visa-free or visa-on-arrival accessible destinations each, the nature of the ranking actually flatters both countries who in reality have 16 countries ahead of them. It’s quite the descent from their joint number one ranking in 2015 and joint sixth last year, and both countries continue on a downward trajectory as the impact of Brexit and increasingly restrictive foreign policies continue to take their toll, echoing the comments of Dr Kaelin.

Occupying bottom spot once again is Afghanistan’s passport, which grants visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to just 26 destinations, an unbelievable 165 fewer than a Japanese passport – which makes it the biggest discrepancy between two nations in the index’s 15-year history. In second to last place, Iraq’s passport opens the door to 28 destinations, just beaten by Syria’s with 29.

The Middle East has, however, seen strong gains over the last year with the UAE and Saudi Arabia both climbing four places to 18th spot (with a score of 171) and 66th spot (with a score of 77) respectively. The UAE also takes the crown for best performer over the last decade, moving from 65th place to 18th.

Here’s the top ten rankings for the world’s most powerful passports in 2020, or take a look at the complete ranking list


1. Japan: 191

2. Singapore: 190

3=. South Korea: 189

3=. Germany: 189

4=. Italy: 188

4=. Finland: 188

5=. Spain: 187

5=. Luxembourg: 187

5=. Denmark: 187

6=. Sweden: 186

6=. France: 186

7=. Switzerland: 185

7=. Portugal: 185

7=. Netherlands: 185

7=. Ireland: 185

7=. Austria: 185

8=. United States: 184

8=. United Kingdom: 184

8=. Norway: 184

8=. Greece: 184

8=. Belgium: 184

9=. New Zealand: 183

9=. Malta: 183

9=. Czech Republic: 183

9=. Canada: 183

9=. Australia: 183

10=. Slovakia: 181

10=. Lithuania: 181

10=. Hungary: 181