Japan, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Finland and Luxembourg top 2024 passport power rankings
For the first time ever, six countries now share the top spot for the world’s most powerful passports in 2024, according to the latest Henley Passport Index. Japan, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Finland and Luxembourg all have a visa-free score of 201, meaning their citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 201 destinations around the world.
This marks a dramatic shift from previous years, when Japan and Singapore typically held the top spots alone. The change comes as countries in Europe have greatly expanded their passport strengths through reforms to make travel easier globally.
“The growth in the strength and power of European passports is a key development in recent years,” notes Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners. “As the EU deepens cooperation between its member states, we’re increasingly seeing these European countries jointly rising to the very top tier of global passport power.”
Four European Countries Make Huge Gains
Of the six countries now sharing first place, the four European nations made particularly notable gains since last year. Germany and Spain each climbed 3 spots, while Finland passed France and several others to gain 8 spots. Tiny European country Luxembourg meanwhile jumped a dramatic 12 spots in the rankings from 2023 to catapult into the top tier.
“It’s been an outstanding year for European passport power,” remarks Armand Arton, Founder and President of Global Citizen Solutions, which collaborates on the index. “Reforms allowing greater visa-free access between European countries, as well as policies extending visa-free entry for EU citizens globally have greatly strengthened the EU bloc.”
UAE Makes Notable Jump as Well
In addition to the success of the EU countries, the United Arab Emirates also posted a substantial gain to round out the top 5 most powerful passports for the year. Standing alone in 5th place with a score of 198, the Emirati passport made one of the Index’s biggest leaps as it jumped from 16th place last year.
“The UAE’s strong global diplomacy is clearly proving effective at improving mobility for Emirati citizens,” said Mehdi Kardouni, Managing Partner of Citizenship Invest and Dubai company Henley & Partners MENA. “We expect the passport to continue rising in strength as relations improve with more countries.”
India and China Continue Gradual Gains
Further down the Henley Index, India and China both inched upward in the passport power rankings. India improved two spots to 83rd place, while China moved three spots to 74th. Both countries have been slowly but steadily gaining ground in recent years through diplomatic outreach efforts.
Experts predict that the growth trend should continue for China and India’s passport strengths, just likely at a more modest pace than most EU countries or the UAE in 2024.
“Big economies like India and China tend to gain passport power gradually over longer timeframes through broad economic initiatives,” comments Misha Glenny, an international relations researcher at the London School of Economics. “But with their growing global clout, they are counties to watch moving forward.”
Where Other Major Countries Stand
With much of the movement at the very top, other major countries experienced limited gains or losses in their passport power:
- United States – 7th place (no change)
- United Kingdom – 8th place (no change)
- Australia, Canada – 9th place (no change)
- New Zealand – 11th place (+3 spots)
- South Korea – tied 12th place (no change)
- Malaysia – tied 12th place (+1 spot)
- Turkey – 45th place (+1 spot)
- Indonesia – tied 69th place (+2 spots)
Passports to Watch in 2025
Based on current trajectories, the Henley Passport Index forecasts that Taiwan, Romania or Croatia could push into the top 10 most powerful passports as soon as next year. Further down in the rankings, experts also expect promising gains for passport power in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Kenya and Albania in 2025.
On the other end of the spectrum, nations like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Bangladesh face ongoing challenges with their passport strengths due to both domestic issues and international restrictions.
Ongoing Ukraine War Has Mixed Impact
The ongoing war in Ukraine has created a unique situation with passport rankings. While Ukraine itself fell 11 spots on the index, Ukrainian passport holders have been granted special asylum privileges in many EU countries. This contributed to the gains for top ranking EU passports that now provide visa-free access to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.
At the same time, Russian passports slid from 50th to 57th place on the index, facing newly restricted access in EU countries and others imposing sanctions.
“The war has created shifts in mobility, opening doors for some passport holders while closing doors for others,” said Armand Arton at Global Citizen Solutions. “How these headwinds continue to impact passport power rankings will be closely watched in 2025.”
So in summary, 2024 ushered in an era with a record-tying 6 top global passports and substantial gains for European passport power in particular. With new reforms on the horizon in Europe and beyond, the top ranks of passport prowess could continue to expand. Meanwhile rising economies like China, India and developing countries will work to grow their passport strengths through diplomatic channels in 2025 and beyond.
Overall, it’s an increasingly borderless world for the most privileged passport holders, while those with passports from struggling nations get left behind – creating opportunities for some and challenges for others in the ever-shifting passport power dynamics.
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