Here’s why the Japanese passport is the most powerful in the world

  • The list examines passports that allow travel without additional visas or permits.
  • Japan, Singapore and South Korea are at the top of the list.
  • COVID-19 has hampered travel plans and decimated the tourism industry.
  • Some countries are changing their policies to attract and retain residents.

Japanese passports are currently the most powerful in the world.

That’s according to migration and citizenship consultancy, Henley & Partners, which compiles a list of the world’s most powerful passports four times a year – and those that allow holders to travel widely and without a visa come out on top.

With a total of 193 potential visa-free destinations, Japanese passports are top ranked. At just one point, Singapore, with Germany and South Korea tied for third place.

At the other end of the rankings, the countries with the lowest visa-free travel capacity are Yemen, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. At the bottom of the list, Afghanistan allows visa-free travel to 26 countries, compared to 193 in Japan.

the The Henley Passport Index is based on a comparison of 199 different passports. access rights to 227 travel destinations with or without an additional visa. For each destination where no visa is required, where a visa, visitor’s permit, or electronic travel authority (ETA) can be obtained on arrival, a country’s passport earns one point.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of Finland, Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria.

The top 5 for Q2 2021

The top 5 for Q2 2021

Image: Henley Passport Index

The report comes as the travel industry grapples with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the outlook remains uncertain as the potential for new variants of the virus prompts governments to cut back or suspend travel to help stop the spread.

One year later: We look back at how the Forum’s networks navigated the global response to COVID-19.

Using a multi-stakeholder approach, the Forum and its partners through its COVID Action Platform have provided countless solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, protecting lives and the means of subsistence.


Throughout 2020, alongside the launch of its COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its partners have launched more than 40 initiatives in response to the pandemic.

The work continues. For example, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs supports 90,000 social entrepreneurs, impacting 1.4 billion people, working to meet the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups in more than 190 countries.

Learn more about the COVID-19 Tool Accelerator, our support for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), and the COVAX initiative and innovative approaches to resolve the pandemic, such as our Common Trust Network – aiming to help deploy a ‘digital passport’ in our impact story.

Immunization programs being rolled out in parts of the world offer some hope, and many are eagerly awaiting the prospect of traveling abroad again.

Another possible consequence is an increase in the number of economic migrants in the post-pandemic period, as the changing office structure allows people to work from different locations.

Henley & Partners calls them nomadic visa: generally, professionals whose employers adopt more flexible approaches to employment.

Several countries hope to tap this potential pool of talent by creating easy-to-access visa agreements and visa waiver programs. In the report accompanying the passport index, Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at NewCities, an association working in the field of sustainable urban development, writes: “2021 will be the year when savvy governments begin to harness the opportunities of post-pandemic migration as a driving force for economic recovery and development.”

In Finland, the Helsinki Business Hub created a “ 90 Day Finn ” program, to attract investors and tech nomads. The program speeds up the settlement process in the country and offers additional benefits including access to housing and childcare, earning it the nickname City as a Service.

From Portugal Startup Madeira, backed by the government, has launched an initiative called Nomad Village, targeting a similar demographic.

Fancy Barbados? This is the welcome stamp allows international visitors to live and work on the island for up to one year and costs $ 2,000.

Taiwan has a similar program in place – its Gold Card is a combined work and residence permit that allows beneficiaries to leave and re-enter the island.

Several countries have also become popular destinations for people seeking to acquire new citizenship status through foreign investment. According to Henley & Partners, more than 100 countries apply such programs, “including 60% of EU Member States”.

Preferred destinations to acquire citizenship, showing their passport rankings

Preferred destinations to acquire citizenship, showing their passport rankings

Image: Henley Passport Index

The cost of these citizenship programs varies widely around the world. Austria, for example, requires a minimum investment of around $ 3.6 million. If the Caribbean is more to your liking, however, a number of options are available starting at $ 100,000.



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