Japan continues to lead global passport ranking

The German reisepass is the European passport that offers the widest choice of visa-free destinations.

Travelers from the Japanese archipelago can visit no fewer than 191 countries around the world without having to apply for a prior visa, reports the 2020 edition of the Henley Passport Index, published on Tuesday, January 7.

Each year, the Henley Passport Index presents its ranking of passports according to the number of countries their holders can enter without the bother of applying for a visa in advance. The renowned London-based consultancy, which helps governments develop citizenship-by-investment programs, bases the ranking on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and additional in-house research. In this year's index, all of the top three places are occupied by Asian passports.

Asian passports are the best in the world

The Japanese passport has once again been confirmed as the world's best travel document for the third year running. Placed second, the Singaporean passport allows travelers to visit 190 countries. South Korea is third, alongside Germany, with its document giving access to 189 countries. It is also worth noting that Taiwan has gone from 69th to 32nd place in the space of ten years with its passport, which now allows holders to visit 146 countries without a prior visa. And let's not forget that Malaysian (178) and Hong Kong (169) passports are ranked above the Taiwanese document. However, China is ranked in 72nd place, with a passport that only offers direct access to 71 countries, putting it on a par with Indonesian and Kenyan travel documents.

German passport is the most effective European document

In Europe, Germany dominates the rankings, coming in third place, with its "reisepass," which allows travelers to discover 189 countries without prior visits to their embassies. Already the best-placed European passport in 2019, the German document is ranked above the Italian "passaporto" and the Finnish "passi pass," which allow for rapid access to 188 countries. Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain come next with 187 hassle-free destinations. For its part France, enables its citizens to travel to 186 countries without a visa, which places it alongside Sweden in sixth place in the ranking. With regard to the UK, people are wondering if Brexit will have an impact on the usefulness of British passports. That remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Britain has drifted down the ranking since 2015 to its current eighth-place position alongside the USA as well as Norway, Greece and Belgium. Travel documents for these countries offer streamlined access to 184 countries, while Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Malta come in the top 10 rankings in ninth position.

The document which has opened the door to the largest number of new territories in ten years is the United Arab Emirates passport, which is placed 18th in the ranking and allows for easy access to 171 countries.

At the bottom of the table, the Afghan passport, which only offers trouble-free travel to 26 countries, is the world's least effective.