The World's Most Powerful Passports for 2021

Asian citizens continue to possess the world's most powerful travel documents, according to the 2021 Henley Passport Index .

Not taking into account temporary travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic , Japan leads the way in terms of passport strength for the fourth straight year, providing visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations worldwide based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Singapore (190) ranks second once again, followed by South Korea and Germany (189), with Italy, Finland, Spain and Luxembourg (188) not far behind. Europe is also home to some of the world's most powerful passports. Denmark and Austria (187) round out the top 10 while Sweden, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Ireland (186) narrowly edge out the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium and New Zealand (185).

Henley & Partners point out that the rise of Asia Pacific (APAC) countries in index rankings is a relatively new phenomenon with European Union countries, the U.K. and the U.S. traditionally holding the top spots. "Experts suggest that the APAC region’s position of strength will continue as it includes some of the first countries to begin the process of recovering from the pandemic," Tuesday's release states.

On the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan's (26) is the least powerful passport that a traveler can hold, followed by Iraq (28), Syria (29), Pakistan (32), Somalia and Yemen (33), Palestinian territories (37), Libya and Nepal (38) and North Korea (39).

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, notes that the COVID-19 crisis and resulting lockdowns have hindered access for passport holders around the world.

"Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and that holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before. The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic," Kaelin said in a statement.

U.S. passport holders are currently able to travel to fewer than 75 destinations due to restrictions stemming from the pandemic.

The World's Most Powerful Passports for 2021

Hongxia Sun