Henley & Partners, a global leader in residence and citizenship advisory, has released their latest quarterly Passport Index which ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The Canadian passport is ranked 7th among the most powerful.
Why and How do they rank passports?
The Henley Passport Index is created through extensive data analysis from the Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and includes 199 different passports, and it is released annually to provide a comprehensive ranking of passports based on visa-free access to international destinations. It serves as a prominent tool for understanding global mobility trends and is instrumental in promoting the importance of travel freedom and citizenship options.
Where is a Canadian passport on the global mobility spectrum?
According to the Henley Passport Index, the Canadian passport is now the seventh most powerful passport in the world, up one spot from the eighth-place ranking it maintained for the past three years. Canadians can travel without a visa to 185 countries.
According to the new rankings, there is a global power dynamic shift, with Japan knocked off the top spot on the Henley Passport Index for the first time in five years and bumped into third place with visa-free travel to 189 countries.
The US passport is quite a bit lower on the index, dropping down a spot from last year to eighth place with 184 travel destinations in the world without a visa.
While Asia has historically dominated the top of the leaderboard in the index, Europe is now making a strong comeback. Germany, Italy, and Spain have all risen to the second-place position, offering visa-free access to 190 destinations. Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea are joined by Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, and Sweden in the third spot, providing their citizens access to 189 destinations without a prior visa.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have experienced a decline in their rankings since jointly holding the first spot in 2014. However, the UK seems to be turning things around, making a notable two-ranking leap to claim the fourth position, a spot it had not held since 2017.
2023’s strongest passports in the world
According to the Passport Index, Singapore is now officially the most powerful passport in the world with their citizens able to visit 192 travel destinations visa-free out of the 227 across the globe. Germany, Italy, and Spain follow closely in second place, whose owners are able to access 190 countries without a visa.
As for the country with the lowest-ranking passport, Afghanistan passport holders are able to freely access only 27 countries of the world.
Global Mobility Gap Widens
Over the 18-year history of ranking, there has been a notable trend towards increased travel freedom. The average number of visa-free accessible destinations for travelers has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. Skift, a prominent travel publication, has explored the geopolitical impact of travel, drawing connections between the quality of life and the ease of cross-border mobility. In their 2023 MegaTrend analysis, they highlighted strained visa processing and long delays, particularly affecting countries with lower rankings on the passport power index.
The global mobility gap has significantly widened, with Singapore, the top-ranked passport, enjoying 165 more visa-free destinations than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the index. India, despite having the world’s largest population, ranks 80th with access to only 57 visa-free destinations, further accentuating the disparity in mobility and its implications for future travel.
The U.S. exhibits a notable divide between countries allowing visa-free entry and those requiring visas, with only 44 nationalities permitted to enter without a visa. While American passport holders can access 184 destinations without a visa, the U.S. ranks 78th on the Henley Openness Index due to this visa disparity, trailing only Australia in this regard.
Strong Passport Matters
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept points out that only eight countries now have fewer visa-free access opportunities compared to a decade ago. Other countries have made significant strides in securing greater travel freedom for their citizens. The UAE, for example, has made an impressive leap of 44 places in the ranking over the past 10 years, adding 107 destinations to its visa-free score since 2013, elevating it to the 12th position. Colombia comes in as the second biggest climber, rising 28 places to rank 37th. Ukraine and China are also among the top 10 countries with the most improved rankings over the past decade.
A strong passport holds much more than just the freedom of movement; it also offers substantial financial freedoms in terms of international investments and business opportunities. In today’s world, global connectivity and access are indispensable for wealth creation and preservation, and the value of a strong passport will continue to grow amidst geopolitical volatility.