Bad news for UK in new powerful passport ranking

The most powerful passports in the world have been revealed, with tiny Singapore and Japan topping the list.

And while Australia’s position on the ranking has remained the same — in ninth spot, along with New Zealand, Iceland and Lithuania — the UK has slid down the rankings amid uncertainty over Brexit and is now in joint sixth place with the United States.

The list was compiled by the Henley Passport Index, which analyses how many countries a passport holder can enter visa-free or on a visa-on-arrival basis, The Sun reports.

Japan and Singapore have held onto their joint top spot, with each country offering visa-free access to 189 destinations.

This latest ranking marks an 18-month winning streak for both countries after they unseated Germany from its long-held first position at the beginning of 2018.

Australia held firm in ninth spot on the rankings despite some surprising plunges. Picture: iStockSource:istock

South Korea now sits in second place along with Finland and Germany, with citizens of all three countries able to access 187 destinations around the world without a prior visa.

Finland rose from third to second spot following recent changes to Pakistan’s formerly highly restrictive visa policy.

In the hope of attracting tourists and boosting its struggling economy, Pakistan now offers an electronic travel authority (ETA) to citizens of 50 countries.

This includes Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

But this concession does not extend to either the UK or the US.


With a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 183, the UK and the US now share sixth place.

This is the lowest position either country has held since 2010 and marks a significant drop from the UK’s first place spot in 2014.

The Henley Passport Index warned Britain’s ranking could get even worse in the years to come.

“Throughout most of the index’s history, the UK has held one of the top five places in the ranking,” it said.

“However, with its exit from the EU now imminent, the UK’s once-strong position looks increasingly uncertain.

The rankings compare the power of the world’s passports in terms of how many countries they grant visa-free access to. Picture: iStockSource:Supplied

“The Brexit process has not yet had a direct impact on the UK’s ranking, but new research using exclusive historical data from the Henley Passport Index indicates that this could change, with consequences that extend beyond a decline in passport power.”

Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, there has been a significant increase in the number of Britons applying for an EU passport.

In 2018, the number of Britons applying for Irish passports jumped 12.5 per cent to 183,000, the second consecutive annual increase.

Almost 2000 Brits applied for Swedish passports last year, another record and about four times the number who did so in 2015.

Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg sit jointly in third place on the index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186.

France, Spain, and Sweden are in joint fourth place, each with a score of 185.

In significant shifts elsewhere in the rankings, the United Arab Emirates has entered the top 20 for the first time in the index’s 14-year history, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 165.

Over the past five years, the UAE has more than doubled the number of destinations its citizens are able to travel to without a prior visa.

People of Japan, as well as Singapore, have the most powerful passport in the world. Picture: iStockSource:istock

Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the global mobility spectrum, with its citizens able to access only 25 destinations worldwide without a prior visa.

“This latest research appears to confirm something that many of us already knew intuitively: that increased visa-openness benefits the entire global community and not just the strongest countries,” Dr Christian H Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, said.


1. Japan, Singapore

2. Germany, South Korea

3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg

4. France, Sweden, Spain

5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland

6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, United States

7. Malta

8. Czech Republic

9. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Lithuania

10. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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