The Henley Passport Index is the original and most authoritative passport index, with historical data
spanning 13 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
The Japanese Passport Is Now the Strongest in the World, with Singapore and South Korea Not Far Behind
For immediate release: London, 9 October 2018
Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. Japan and Singapore have been neck and neck on the index since they both climbed to 1st place in February — following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan — and pushed Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.
This quarter, Germany has fallen further to 3rd place, which it now shares with South Korea and France. France moved up from 4th to 3rd place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan, while South Korea moved from 4th to 3rd place on 1 October when it gained visa-free access to Myanmar. Germany, France, and South Korea all have a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 188. Iraq and Afghanistan continue to hold the bottom (106th) spot of the Henley Passport Index, with only 30 destinations accessible to their citizens.
The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have also slid down one spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers such as Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, it seems increasingly unlikely that the US and the UK will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015.
Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver for Russian nationals (valid until July 2019), but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place compared to Q3, because of movements higher up in the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places this quarter, to 71st overall. This is still an impressive 14-place improvement over the position that China held at the start of 2017.
What has been most remarkable in recent years is the UAE’s stunning ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently. The UAE now holds the number 1 passport in the Middle East region.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, commented on these developments: “The Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is an important tool for measuring not only the relative strength of the world’s passports but also the extraordinary results that states can achieve when they work hand in hand with their global peers to build a more interconnected and collaborative world. China and the UAE exemplify this kind of progress, with both states among the highest overall climbers compared to 2017, purely as a result of the strong relationships they have built with partner countries around the world.”
The UAE and Russia consolidate their international position
Strengthening its position as the passport-power champion of the Middle East, the UAE signed a visa-waiver with Russia in July, which is due to come into effect in the coming months.
Commenting on the UAE’s latest visa-waiver agreement, Ryan Cummings, Director of Signal Risk, said that it is aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations between the UAE and another global superpower”, following the visa-waiver signed with China earlier this year. Specifically, this latest agreement with Russia will help the UAE “lower its dependence on its hydrocarbon sector and continue its robust economic growth trajectory” by stimulating tourism and trade.
Tim Geschwindt, Analyst at S-RM Intelligence and Risk Consulting, says the agreement also speaks to Russia’s shifting position within the international community: “The country is continuing to seek improved bilateral relations, as well as trade, investments, and tourism ties, with new partners. Russia’s recent decision to grant visa-free travel access to not only Emiratis but also citizens of several other nations speaks to this effort. Russia’s agreement with the UAE in particular is part of a foreign policy push to attract foreign investment into the country, especially from Emirati businesses and businesspeople.”
Kosovo–EU visa-liberalization on the cards
Looking ahead, the most dramatic climb on the Henley Passport Index might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.
Prof. Florian Trauner, Research Professor at the Institute for European Studies at the Free University of Brussels, commented on this development: “The approval of the European Parliament is a recognition of the hard work done by the Kosovar authorities to fulfill the conditions set by the EU. The discussion within the Council will remain difficult, however. Several member states are reluctant to grant visa-liberalization. Relaxing visa rules may be criticized as being lenient on migration control — a criticism few want to risk in a time when right-wing populist parties are on the rise.”
Citizenship-by-investment countries make strong gains
Countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs in place all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index and are continually rising up the ranking. Newcomer Moldova, for example, which launched its CBI program in the second half of this year, has climbed 20 places since 2008. Every CBI program country has improved its visa-free/visa-on-arrival score since the start of the year.
“CBI programs offer access to some of the world’s strongest and most promising passports,” says Dr. Kälin, “and the merit of these passports is a reflection of the underlying stability and attractiveness of the countries themselves. The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant for individuals, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative.”
Notes to editors
About the 2018 Henley Passport Index
Boasting cutting-edge expert commentary and historical data spanning 13 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 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.
The Henley Passport Index is updated in real-time, as and when visa-policy changes come into effect. Along with the Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, it is considered a major reference tool for global citizens and the standard reference for governments in this field.
About the Henley Passport Index website
The Henley Passport Index website provides up-to-date, printable lists of the countries you can access visa-free, with an e-visa, with a visa on arrival, or with a normal visa. It also allows you to compare the strength of passports and understand how you might improve your travel freedom with alternative citizenship. Visit the website to view and download the global ranking and find out more about the power of your passport.
Global headlines for Q4 2018
- Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index.
- Germany has fallen to 3rd place, which it now shares with South Korea and France.
- France moves up from 4th to 3rd place.
- The US and the UK have slid down one spot to 5th place.
- The UAE now holds 21st place globally. The country has climbed a remarkable 40 places since 2008.
- Iraq and Afghanistan continue to hold the bottom (106th) spot on the index, with only 30 destinations accessible visa-free or with a visa on arrival.
Regional headlines for Q4 2018
- In Africa, the Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa, respectively, hold the top 3 spots. The Seychelles and Mauritius are the only countries in Africa that have shown positive growth over the past decade.
- In the Middle East, the UAE is in 1st place, Turkey is in 2nd place, and Kuwait is in 3rd place.
- In the Caribbean, the top 3 spots are held by Barbados, the Bahamas, and St. Kitts and Nevis, respectively. St. Lucia, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda — as well as Dominica, Haiti, and Barbados — all saw an improvement in their scores this quarter.
- In Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Ukraine holds 1st place, Moldova holds 2nd place, and Russia holds 3rd Moldova has climbed 20 places since 2008, while Ukraine has climbed 21 places.
- In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, respectively, hold the top 3 spots, and all three countries fall within the top 20 globally. Indonesia has climbed seven places compared to Q1 2017 and is the highest regional climber.
- In North Asia, Japan is the global and regional leader, with 190 visa-free/visa-on-arrival destinations. China is the highest regional climber compared to Q1 2017, while North Korea, in 99th place globally, remains the poorest performer in the region.
About Henley & Partners
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 7 billion in foreign direct investment. 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.
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