The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and enhanced by ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.
With expert commentary and historical data spanning 15 years, the Henley Passport Index is an invaluable resource for global citizens and the standard reference tool for governments in this field.
Download Global Ranking 2020
The Henley Passport Index is the original and most authoritative passport index, with historical data
spanning 15 years. The index and its contents are based on data provided by the International Air Transport
Authority (IATA) and supplemented, enhanced, and updated using extensive in-house research and open-source
online data. The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. Updated in
real-time throughout the year, as and when visa-policy changes come into effect, the Henley Passport Index
is the most robust and reliable index of its kind.
Global ranking and visa lists
On a fixed date each year, Henley & Partners receives exclusive data from the International Air Transport
Authority (IATA), which forms the basis of the Henley Passport Index. In order to maintain the accuracy of
the data provided by IATA in the face of constant updates to visa policy, and in order to create detailed
visa lists for all 199 passports in our database, the Henley & Partners research team uses publicly
available and reliable online sources to cross-check each passport against all 227 possible travel
destinations. This research process is ongoing throughout the year. It is coupled with a rigorous monitoring
system to pick up relevant visa-policy shifts.
Conditions and criteria
For each travel destination, if no visa is required for passport holders from a country or territory, then a
score with value = 1 is created for that passport. A score with value = 1 is also applied if passport
holders can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit, or an electronic travel authority (ETA) when
entering the destination. These visa-types require no pre-departure government approval, because of the
specific visa-waiver programs in place.
Where a visa is required, or where a passport holder has to obtain a government-approved electronic visa
(e-Visa) before departure, a score with value = 0 is assigned. A score with value = 0 is also assigned if
passport holders need pre-departure government approval for a visa on arrival, a scenario we do not consider
The total score for each passport is equal to the number of destinations for which no visa is required (value
= 1), under the conditions defined above.
The index assumes the following: the passport is valid; the passport is ‘normal’ rather than diplomatic,
emergency, or temporary; the passport holder is an adult citizen of the issuing country, traveling alone
rather than in a tourist group; the passport holder meets all the basic requirements for entry (for example,
holding a hotel reservation or having proof of sufficient funds); the passport holder does not meet any
complex requirements for entry (for example, possessing a government-issued letter); the passport holder has
had all the necessary inoculations or vaccinations; the passport holder is arriving at and departing from
the same airport; the passport holder is seeking a short stay rather than a transit stay in the destination
country or territory; the duration of the short stay is between three days and several months; the port of
entry is a major city or capital, in cases where this is required; and entry to the destination country is
for tourist or business purposes.
The visa policy of Greenland and the Faroe Islands is taken to be the same as that of Denmark.
For each passport, the visa lists were broken down into regions, for ease of reference. These regional
groupings were created using a combination of official United Nations geographic categories and Henley &
Partners business categories.
The information provided in the index is not intended to be binding, and visa information must be verified
with a travel agent or embassy representative before travel arrangements are made.
Full disclaimer and important legal information:
- Visa-free: You do not need a visa to enter these destinations
- Visa on arrival: You need a visa to enter these destinations, but you can apply for and receive the visa
upon arrival at the airport (no pre-departure approval necessary)
- e-Visa: You need a visa to enter these destinations, but you can apply for it online, and the visa you
receive is electronic (pre-departure approval necessary)
- Visa required: You need a traditional visa to enter these destinations, and you need to apply for it in
- Visa-free score: The total number of destinations for which you do not require a visa
- Visa list: The list of destinations that a specific passport can access visa-free, with an electronic
visa (e-Visa), with a visa on arrival, or with a traditional visa
This quarterly update reflects the Henley Passport Index ranking on 7 April 2020 and gives exclusive insight into the latest shifts and changes in global passport power. As well as illustrating global and regional trends, the report uses data from the index’s 15-year history to show how travel mobility has changed over the past decade, looking at which passports have gained in strength and which have fallen behind.
The report also features analysis and expert commentary from global thought leaders, highlighting the social, political, and economic implications of the latest changes to the rankings.
Click here to read the full report.
The 2019 Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report is a unique publication that brings together commentary from leading scholars and professional experts on the major trends shaping global and regional mobility patterns today.
In addition, the report features fresh analysis of the latest developments on the Henley Passport Index, original scholarly research into the relationship between democracy and travel freedom, and on-the-ground insights into the future of migration technology.
Click here to read the full 2019 report
Record-Breaking Global Mobility Grounded by COVID-19 Pandemic
For immediate release: London, Tuesday 7 April 2020
With global travel almost at a standstill, the latest results of the Henley Passport Index offer disturbing insight into the indiscriminate havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its inception in 2006, the index has provided the authoritative annual ranking of global passport strength. Travel freedom has increased dramatically over the period — in 2006, a citizen could travel to 58 destinations on average without a visa from the host nation; 14 years later, this number has almost doubled to 107. The first ranking of the new decade published in January this year conclusively confirmed that overall, people were the most globally mobile than we had ever been in the history of humankind, with the top-ranking passport (Japan) offering its holders access to a record-breaking 191 destinations without requiring a visa in advance. Just three months later, the picture looks very different indeed.
Japan’s passport continues to hold the top spot on the Henley Passport Index as we enter the second quarter of 2020, but the reality is that current stringent travel restrictions mean that most non-essential travel for Japanese nationals is heavily curtailed. This is true for almost every country of course, as more travel bans are implemented daily, and ever-more stringent coronavirus lockdown regulations are imposed by governments worldwide. With 3.5 billion people, nearly half the global population, presently living in voluntary or mandatory confinement, the latest results from the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — raise challenging questions about what travel freedom and global mobility really mean, both currently and in a deeply uncertain post-pandemic future.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, points out that in an unprecedented global health emergency such as this, relative passport strength becomes temporarily meaningless. “A Swiss citizen can, in theory, travel to 185 destinations around the world without needing a visa in advance, but the last few weeks have made it apparent that travel freedom is contingent on factors that occasionally can be utterly beyond our control. This is, of course, something that citizens of countries with weak passports in the lower ranks of the index are all too familiar with. As public health concerns and security rightfully take precedence over all else now, even within the otherwise borderless EU, this is an opportunity to reflect on what freedom of movement and citizenship essentially mean for those of us who have perhaps taken them for granted in the past.”
The future of international mobility after COVID-19
Commenting on the latest Henley Passport Index, bestselling author and the Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, Dr. Parag Khanna, says the combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health, the global economy, and social behavior could lead to much deeper shifts in our human geography and future distribution around the world. “This may seem ironic given today’s widespread border closures and standstill in global transportation, but as the curtain lifts, people will seek to move from poorly governed and ill-prepared ‘red zones’ to ‘green zones’ or places with better medical care. Alternatively, people may relocate to places where involuntary quarantine, whenever it strikes next, is less torturous. In the US, both domestic and international migration were surging before the pandemic, with Gen-Xers and millennials shifting to cheaper, second-tier cities in the Sun Belt or abroad to Latin America and Asia in search of an affordable life. Once quarantines lift and airline prices stand at rock bottom, expect more people across the globe to gather their belongings and buy one-way tickets to countries affordable enough to start fresh.”
This is supported by emerging research and analysis commissioned by Henley & Partners, which suggests that despite freedom of movement currently being restricted as a temporary measure, there is a risk that this will negatively affect international mobility in the long run. Political science researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively, note that public health concerns have historically been used to justify restricting mobility, but governments usually adopt travel restrictions temporarily, in response to short-term health needs. Until now, health security has not been a significant determinant or requirement when negotiating visa waivers, but Altundal and Zarpli warn that “increasing public health concerns due to the outbreak of COVID-19 may change this...the quality and level of health security of a country could be a significant consideration for visa waivers in future”. The unprecedented and overwhelming focus on health security and pandemic preparedness we now see may change the face of global mobility forever.
On the other hand, Prof. Simone Bertoli, Professor of Economics at CERDI, Université Clermont Auvergne in France, says that the necessity of international collaboration in fighting the pandemic could ultimately reduce current barriers to international mobility. “Humanity is confronted with a truly global challenge against which no country — irrespective of its level of income — can fully protect itself. This pandemic could therefore trigger renewed and more intense international cooperation, something that has (so far) not happened with the other main global challenge that the world is currently facing, namely climate change.”
Brexit, travel bans, and changing timelines
The chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has cast further doubt on the timeline for the implementation of the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, according to Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford. The UK, currently in 7th place on the Henley Passport Index, with citizens theoretically able to access 185 destinations without acquiring a visa in advance, was set to end free movement with the EU in January 2021. However, as Sumption says, “The UK can only implement its new immigration system when the post-Brexit ‘transition period’ is over, and if this is extended to give negotiators more time to discuss trade and other issues, we may not be seeing the end of free movement with the EU quite yet.”
In the US, also in 7th place on the Henley Passport Index, the impact of travel bans implemented at the beginning of the year appear to have been compounded by the pandemic, according to Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities. “For the children of a rising global middle class with more and more options, this pandemic may prove to be the tipping point in terms of choosing educational destinations. When the world gradually recovers — with China, South Korea, and Singapore already succeeding in slowing the outbreak through effective quarantines — don’t be surprised if the best and brightest take coronavirus responses into consideration when deciding on their future options.”
A unique hedge against volatility in an uncertain future
Commenting on the ever-expanding growth and popularity of the investment migration industry, Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, says: “We believe that in the post COVID-19 environment, investment migration will take on a dramatically enhanced importance for both individual investors and sovereign states. Acquiring alternative residence or citizenship will act as a hedge against the significant macro-economic volatility that is predicted, creating even more sovereign and societal value across the world.”
Notes to Editors
About the 2020 Henley Passport Index
With cutting-edge expert commentary and historical data spanning 15 years, the Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and it is enhanced by extensive, ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.
Along with the Kälin — Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, it is considered a major reference tool in this field for global citizens and governments.
Global Headlines for Q2 2020: growth in travel freedom over past decade
- Japan retains its top spot on the Henley Passport Index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 191. Over the past decade its travel freedom score has increased by 31 points: in 2010, the country was ranked 6th worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 160.
- Singapore continues to hold onto 2nd place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190. Over the past decade Singapore’s travel freedom score has increased by 35 points: in 2010, the country was ranked 11th worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on- arrival score of 155.
- Germany remains in 3rd place, with access to 189 destinations compared to the 161 destinations its passport holders were able to access a decade ago. It shares 3rd position with South Korea, which has increased its travel freedom score by 38 points: in 2010, South Korea was ranked 13th worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 151.
- The UK is currently ranked 7th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 185. Over the past decade the UK’s travel freedom score has increased by 19 points: in 2010, the country was ranked 1st worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 166.
- The US is also currently ranked 7th on the index, with a score of 185. Over the past decade, the US’s travel freedom score has increased by 26 points: in 2010, the country was ranked 7th worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 159.
- The UAE has seen the biggest increase in travel freedom over the past 10 years. In 2010, the country was ranked 65th worldwide, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 64. It is now ranked 18th, with a score of 171 — which means the country has added a remarkable 107 visa-free travel destinations over that period.
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Investment migration programs enable nations to grant residence or citizenship rights to individuals in exchange for a substantial investment.
Citizenship-by-investment denotes the process whereby qualified, vetted candidates are granted full citizenship in exchange for their substantial economic contribution to the passport-issuing state. Residence-by-investment denotes a similar process, but candidates in this case are granted temporary residence, which can be extended to permanent residence or, in some cases, citizenship.
For individuals, the key benefits of holding an alternative passport include expanded travel mobility, access to business and educational opportunities on a global scale, ease of asset diversification, and improved safety and security in a rapidly changing world.
For host countries, the foreign direct investment secured through these programs creates both sovereign and societal value. Debt-free liquidity is injected into the economy, resulting in additional capital flows both to the public sector — encouraging fiscal autonomy, diversifying the economy, and creating employment opportunities — and the private sector, in the form of investments in existing enterprises, infrastructure, start-ups, and real estate.
There are now investment migration programs in nearly 100 countries around the world, including more than 70% of EU member states.
Henley & Partners is the global leader in residence and citizenship planning. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 30 offices worldwide.
The concept of residence and citizenship planning was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s. As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors whom we proudly serve every day.
The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than USD 8 billion in foreign direct investment. Trusted by governments, the firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.