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Asian countries top ranking of world’s most powerful passports in 2023

Japanese passport
via Toshiyuki IMAI (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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    Report: Japan, Singapore have 2021’s most powerful passports, the US fails to crack top five

    Japan remains at the top of a recent ranking of the world’s most powerful passports, with Singapore and South Korea tied for second place.

    In the latest Henley Passport Index rankings, Japan received a visa-free score of 193, meaning that Japanese passport holders can travel to 193 of 227 destinations without a visa. This is about 85% of the whole world, Henley and Partners, the company behind the rankings, said in a press release on Tuesday.

    The company explained that its passport index “is the only one of its kind based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority,” the trade association for over 290 airlines around the world.

    Singapore, which tied for first place with Japan last year, dropped down to second place this year. Both Singapore and South Korea received a score of 192, while Germany and Spain tied for third place with a score of 190.

    Tied for fourth place are Finland, Italy and Luxembourg, with a score of 198. Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden received a score of 188, placing the European countries at No. 5. France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom tied for sixth place with a score of 187.

    Meanwhile, the United States sits at No. 7 along with New Zealand and European countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway and Switzerland.

    Even though global travel has returned to around 75% of what it used to be pre-COVID-19 pandemic, the company stated that it “appears increasingly unlikely that either country [the U.S. and the U.K.] will ever regain the top spot on the index which they jointly held nearly a decade ago in 2014.”

    Analysts anticipate that countries such as Kuwait and Qatar will eventually climb up the rankings due to their visa-free deal with the European Union, which will be signed later this year.

    These Gulf nations are “poised for strong and much improved economic performances,” Dr. Robert Mogielnicki, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said in the report.

    Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup provided an unparalleled opportunity to market the small Gulf country to a global audience and the World Bank anticipates Kuwait’s growth to accelerate to 8.5% alongside a strong performance in the non-oil sectors.”

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