Come fly with me

How powerful is your country's passport in 2023?

There’s a link between a country’s economic power and freedom to travel
Afghanistan had the weakest passport in the world after countries severed diplomatic ties in response to the Taliban taking power.
Afghanistan had the weakest passport in the world after countries severed diplomatic ties in response to the Taliban taking power.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

For the fourth year in a row, Japan and Singapore have the most powerful passports in the world. Nationals from these two east Asian countries can travel to 193 countries and territories out of a possible 227 without obtaining a visa, according to an annual ranking issued by consultancy Henley & Partners, which uses data from the International Air Transport Association.

At the bottom of the list, below countries like Syria, Yemen, and North Korea, is Afghanistan, where citizens can only pay a visa-free visit to 27 other countries. Several states severed ties with the war-torn nation after the Taliban took control in 2021.

Analysts from Henley & Partners found a strong correlation between a nation’s passport strength and economic power. The top-ranking Japanese passport gives access to 85% of the world, which collectively makes up 98% of the global economic output. The report contrasts that with last-ranked Afghanistan, which only allows visa-free access to 12% of the world, countries that make up less than 1% of the global economy.

Passport rankings

Where can Russians travel to?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has arguably been the most significant geopolitical event of the past year, one whose repercussions were felt across industries, including travel. While the Russian passport only declined one spot from the 2022 Henley & Partner’s list, travel for Russian nationals has been limited for a number of other reasons.

The EU closed its airspace to any Russian airline at the onset of the war, while the relative weakness of the ruble has made traveling abroad a more expensive endeavor. Then in September, the European Commission accused Russia of “demonstrating a complete disregard to the international rules-based order” and said it would suspended a landmark 2007 travel agreement in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, effectively making the process of traveling into the EU lengthier and more expensive.

That month, the Baltic states, Finland, and Poland—the only EU countries part of the visa-free travel Schengen area that share land borders with Russia—closed their borders to Russian nationals, while Slovakia and Czechia later announced they won’t be issuing humanitarian visas to Russians looking to flee conscription.

Russian passport holders are eligible for conscription, a fate hundreds of thousands of people have tried to avoid. Russia has also been accused of weaponizing passports in occupied areas of Ukraine by forcibly issuing documents and making it difficult to renew or obtain Ukrainian citizenship. Ukraine has said that this practice is in violation of the Geneva convention and constitutes a war crime.

Related stories

🌴 Wealthy Nigerians are buying up passports for cash from Caribbean nations to beat visa rules

🧳 The business case for eliminating paper-based passports 

✈️ So you have two passports—do you know how to use them?