It’s official. The Japanese passport is the world’s most powerful passport in 2020. The Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the world’s most travel-friendly passports, has released its first report of the new decade. Japan is now top of the leader-board, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to an incredible 191 destinations around the world. Asia dominates the top of the list, with Singapore in second place, with a score of 190 and South Korea tying with Germany in third place with a score of 189. European countries have a strong showing in the rest of the top ten, with Finland and Spain at No.4, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark coming fifth, and Sweden and France sitting at No. 6. The US and the UK, meanwhile, continue to slide down the rankings. As we step into the 2020s, they hold joint eighth place — a far cry from the number one spot they jointly held five years ago, in 2015.
The ongoing certainty in the UK over what travel mobility in a post-Brexit Britain and Northern Ireland will look like means that this downward trend might not be reversed anytime soon. One step above the UK on the leaderboard is Ireland, at No.7. A record-breaking 900,000 Irish passports were issued in 2019, due to a steady rise in applicants from British residents since the Brexit vote in 2016. The UAE has been the index’s biggest success story of the past decade, climbing 47 places over the past ten years to sit in 18th place, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 171. The report notes, however, that there is a growing divide when it comes to travel freedom and this mobility gap is now the widest it’s ever been since the index’s inception in 2006. A Japanese passport holder can access 165 more destinations than a holder of the world’s weakest passport, that of Afghanistan, which offers visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to just 26 destinations. Here is the list of best and worst passports to hold in 2020.
With Vijay Sonkhia, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.