Most & Least Powerful Passports In The World: S’pore Strongest In Visa-Free Travel In 2023

The World’s Passports Ranked According To How Powerful They Are

As the year comes to an end, almost everyone is packing their bags and gearing up for a well-deserved holiday.

Singaporeans, in particular, have the widest pick of travel destinations as they hold one of the strongest passports in the world.

The Henley Passport Index reported that Singapore’s passport ranks first on the list in 2023, surpassing Japan.

With the most powerful passport in the world, Singaporeans can enjoy visa-free travel to a whopping 193 destinations.

MS News takes a deeper look at the top three strongest passports and how they compare with the lowest-ranked nations.

Most powerful passports have visa-free access to over 190 destinations

Every year since 2006, The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s passports based on how many destinations their holders can access without a travel visa.

A visa is different from a passport in that the former is an endorsement that grants visitors permission to enter, leave, or stay in a country for a period of time.

Source: Visafoto

However, a passport is simply a travel and identification document to verify the holder’s citizenship.

Many countries have visa policies and agreements in place to ensure seamless travel for their citizens, according to Passport Index.

This visa policy dictates who can and cannot enter a country and is based on considerations such as diplomatic relations, cost and tourism factors, and more.

While some countries have more visa agreements, others are lacking in comparison.

Singapore has the strongest passport this year, followed by Japan and places like Sweden and France. Citizens of these countries have visa-free travel to over 190 destinations.

Meanwhile, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan ranked the lowest on the list.

1. Singapore — Access to 193 destinations

Firstly, the Singapore passport boasts visa-free access to 193 destinations worldwide in 2023.

As such, Singaporeans can travel easily to tourist hotspots like South Korea and the United States of America (USA), for example.

Source: shawnanggg on Unsplash

That said, there are still countries that require Singaporeans to apply for a visa — 33 to be exact.

They include India, the Russian Federation, and some countries in Africa. A full list can be found here.

In Singapore, citizens 16 years old and above are issued passports that are valid for 10 years — as of 1 Oct 2021.

On the other hand, the passport validity for those below 16 is five years.

2. Japan — Access to 192 destinations

Japan comes in a close second with passport holders having visa-free travel to 192 destinations.

This is simply one destination shy of taking first place alongside Singapore.

Among the 34 destinations worldwide that require visas from Japan’s passport holders are China and the Russian Federation. View the full list here.

As it turns out, Japan occupied the number-one spot in the global passport ranking for five consecutive years, reported The Japan Times.

The country’s passport holders had visa-free travel to 193 countries last year.

3. Finland & six other countries — Access to 191 destinations

Tied in third place are seven countries that provide visa-free travel for their citizens to 191 destinations.

The third strongest passport is from European countries such as Germany and one in Asia, which is South Korea.

In 2022, there were only two countries in third place — Germany and Spain. These passports then had visa-free access to 190 destinations.

Meanwhile, South Korea was tied in second place with Singapore.

Least powerful passports have visa-free access to about 30 destinations

While some countries have climbed up the ranks to have some of the most powerful passports in the world, some still remain weak.

Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq remain in the bottom three — according to The Henley Passport Index.

Compared to the highest-ranked passports that allow visa-free travel to over 190 destinations, these passports only have access to a fraction of that number.

The Afghanistan passport has visa-free access to 27 places which includes Macao.

Syria is one place above Afghanistan in the ranking, with visa-free travel to 28 countries including Malaysia.

Similar to Afghanistan and Syria, Iraq passport holders can also travel to Malaysia and Macao without a prior visa — among 28 other destinations.

Singapore & Japan top global passport ranking

According to the data provided by Henley & Partners, Singapore and Japan have been topping the rankings since 2018.

Before their rise to the top, countries in the West like Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom dominated the charts.

It remains to be seen though, if Singapore will hold on to its rank over Japan.

For now, Singaporeans can just enjoy the ease of travel that comes with holding that little red passport.

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Featured image adapted from Connected to India and Smart Singapore for illustration purposes only.

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