Four European countries have tied with Japan and Singapore for the most powerful passport in 2024 while India is ranked 80th in the list of 104 nations.
Citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Singapore can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 194 destinations out of 227 around the globe, a report prepared by Henley and Partners and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday said.
India has risen three slots in the rankings from 83rd in 2023 to 80th this year with visa-free access to 62 destinations. Several countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Kenya added India to their visa-free lists last year.
While Japan and Singapore dominated the Henley Passport Index for the last five years, European countries have made a return to the top slot in 2024.
Finland and Sweden are tied with South Korea in second place with easy access to 193 destinations, while Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands, all with access to 192 destinations, are jointly in the third position.
Belgium, Luxemburg, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom are at number 4 while Greece, Malta, and Switzerland are at number 5.
Australia and New Zealand have moved up to sixth place alongside Czech Republic and Poland. The United States and Canada meanwhile are tied for seventh place with Hungary, having visa-free access to 188 destinations.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains the biggest climber on the Henley Passport Index over the past decade, adding an impressive 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014, resulting in a massive leap of 44 places in the ranking from 55th to 11th position.
Ukraine and China are also among the top 5 countries with the most improved rankings over the past 10 years (a net total gain of 21 places each), and both have climbed a further two ranks in the past year.
Ukraine is now in 32nd place with 148 visa-free destinations and China is 62nd on the ranking with access to 85 destinations without a prior visa compared to just 44 in 2014.
Russia has seen a net gain of 24 destinations over the past decade, but its ranking has barely shifted since 2017, and it now sits in 51st place with access to 119 destinations.
Thailand ranks 63rd, with visa-free access to 82 countries.
Afghanistan has the least powerful passport with a visa-free score of 28 while Syria is ranked second lowest in the ranking with a score of 29. Pakistan and Iraq are ranked 101st and 102nd with visa-free access to 34 and 31 destinations respectively.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley and Partners and creator of the passport index, said that while general trend over the history of the 19-year-old ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever.
“The average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024,” Kaelin said. “However, as we enter the New Year, the top-ranked countries are now able to travel to a staggering 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to just 28 countries without a visa.”
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