Passports from Japan and Singapore are now the most powerful in the world, granting bearers access to 180 countries without travel visas.

The information comes from a new report by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm. Every year they publish a new Henley Passport Index. This index shows which passports around the world allow bearers to cross the most borders.

Last year’s winner was the German passport which takes the second spot with access to 179 destinations.

The reason for Japanese and Singaporean passports pulling ahead is partially due to Uzbekistan lifting restrictions on both countries. In addition, last year Paraguay removed restrictions on passports from Singapore.

The least powerful passport according to the Henley Passport Index is that of Afghanistan which allows bearers visa-free access to just 24 countries. Slightly better are Iraq (27), Syria (28), Pakistan (30) and Somalia (32).

The top ten most powerful passports 2018:

According to the Henley Passport Index, the top 10 spaces are occupied by the following passports:

  1. Japan, Singapore: 180
  2. Germany: 179
  3. Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, South Korea: 178
  4. Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal: 177
  5. Switzerland, Ireland, United States, Canada: 176
  6. Belgium, Australia, Greece: 174
  7. New Zealand, Czech Republic, Malta: 173
  8. Iceland: 172
  9. Hungary: 171
  10. Latvia: 170

What have experts said?

Speaking about the findings of the index to CNN, Parag Khanna, senior fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore said:

“These two states in particular are identified as peaceful commercial powers, with their citizens interested primarily in business and investment activities.”

The biggest movers on the list:

One of the biggest movers on the list is the United Arab Emirates. It is the biggest mover in the past ten years, having risen a total of 34 places.

Last year alone UAE passports have been allowed visa-free travel to 11 extra countries including China and Ireland. It will allow visa-free travel to Burkina Faso in 2018.

The highest climbers of 2017 are Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine rose 16 places and Georgia rose 14 places.

This is largely due to visa-liberalisation discussions with the European Union which have aimed to increase parity with EU states, allowing Ukrainian and Georgian passports the same access to visa free travel as those in other EU countries.