The World's Most Powerful Passports in 2021

January, 2021

Author : Kayla Lau

Asia dominates the Henley Passport Index, a ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations holders can access visa-free. The Index doesn’t take temporary COVID restrictions into account and topping the list for the third consecutive year is Japan. Citizens of Japan can visit 191 countries around the world visa-free. The Singaporean passport is in second place with access to 190 countries.

Despite Brexit, the UK passport has moved up the rankings from eighth at the start of 2020 to join seventh place with access to 185 countries visa-free, alongside the US passport, a non-mover.


  1. Japan (191 countries)
  2. Singapore, (190)
  3. Germany, South Korea (189)
  4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (188)
  5. Austria, Denmark (187)
  6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (186)
  7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (185)
  8. Australia, Czech Republic, Greece Malta (184)
  9. Canada (183)
  10. Hungary (182)

Source: Henley Passport Index

Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be the countries with the worst passport to hold with a passport rank of 108, 109 and 110, respectively. These countries have access to fewer than 30 countries. Their global rankings could have been affected by the domestic security situation. Over the past few years, Iraq has been labelled as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to visit, largely due to the rise of the Islamic State and the Taliban conflict with the U.S. government.

The ascendance of APAC countries in the Henley Passport Index rankings is a relatively new phenomenon. Over the Index’s 16-year history, the top spots were traditionally held by EU countries, the UK or the US, and experts suggest that the APAC region’s position of strength will continue as it includes some of the first countries to begin to recover from the worldwide pandemic.

Asia, the fastest growing economic region, has become one of the most popular destinations for international migration. In the past few years, the APAC region has improved in economic development, employment opportunities and spread of technical knowledge which provides greater social freedom. Asia has a business friendly environment, especially for foreign investors. Singapore and Hong Kong was rated as the world’s first and second freest economy in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation. With a strong combination of favourable government regulations, enticing tax rates and a growing talent pool have prompted foreign companies to expand their businesses into Asia.

Future global mobility is still uncertain as COVID19 continues its spread around the world. Experts suggest that we should not expect a return to pre-pandemic patterns.

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