Japan dominates passport index

09/01/2019 News Team

Japan begins 2019 in first place on the Henley Passport Index, with citizens enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations. 

The index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), places Singapore and South Korea sitting in joint second place, with access to 189 destinations around the globe. This marks a new high for South Korea, which moved up the ranking following a recent visa-on-arrival agreement with India. 

Germany and France remain in third place going into 2019, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 188. 

The US and the UK continue to fall down the index and are now in joint 6th place, with access to 185 destinations, despite both holding joint first place in 2015.

Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden now hold joint fourth place, while Spain and Luxembourg are in fifth.

At the other end of the scale, Iraq and Afghanistan remain at the bottom, with access to just 30 visa-free destinations. 

Turkey’s recent introduction of an online e-Visa service, which requires citizens of over 100 countries including Canada, the UK, Norway, and the US, to apply for an e-Visa before arrival, has resulted in some changes to the overall rankings. While this means that a few countries have dropped slightly in the rankings, it does not alter the positive effect of the wider global tendency towards visa-openness and mutually beneficial agreements. 

Historical data from the Henley Passport Index shows that in 2006, a citizen on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation, but now this number has nearly doubled to 107. 

Dr Christian H. Kälin, group chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the Passport Index concept, says this latest ranking shows that while there is rising isolationist sentiment in some regions, many countries remain committed to collaboration. 

“The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world. South Korea and the United Arab Emirates’ recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community.”

China’s steady ascent up the rankings over the past few years is a clear demonstration of this. In 2017, the country was ranked 85th, with citizens able to access just 51 destinations. Going into 2019, China sits in 69th place, with its nationals now able to access 74 countries and territories around the world. 

The United Arab Emirates’ has continued its upward trajectory and now holds the  top spot in the Middle East and is 22nd globally, with its citizens able to access 164 destinations around the globe. The nation has recently signed agreements with a number of countries, including Mexico, Japan, and Sierra Leone. 

Henley & Partners has launched the 2019 edition of the Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report, which offers analysis and commentary from scholars and professionals on the trends in international and regional mobility patterns.


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