The world’s most powerful passports ranked: UAE holds steady while Ukraine moves up

The latest Henley Passport Index highlights how the current conflict is affecting travel freedom

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The release of the latest Henley Passport Index highlights the impact the current conflict in Ukraine is having on travel freedom and mobility.

The index, which ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, is compiled using official data from the International Air Transport Association.

There was little change in the top 10 most powerful passports compared to the last ranking, which was released in January. Japan and Singapore continue to share the number one spot in the ranking, with passport holders from both countries able to access 192 destinations around the world visa-free.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the top 15 most powerful passwords.

Germany and South Korea took second place once again, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain share third place, with passport holders from these countries able to access 189 destinations around the world.

The UK now sits in fifth place, with a score of 187, with the US one place behind with a score of 186. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index as its citizens are currently only able to access 26 destinations visa-free.

The UAE has retained its place at number 15, the highest spot the Arab world's second-largest economy has achieved since the index was launched in 2006.

UAE passport holders can enter 175 destinations around the world visa-free, according to the index, which ranks the strength of 199 passports.

The latest update to the index shows that Ukraine currently has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 143, a record high for the country, which now ranks 34th on the index.

It has climbed 26 places since 2012. Russia sits in 49th place.

Dr Christian Kaelin, Chairman of Henley and Partners, predicts Russia's ranking will further drop in the future as a result of the present conflict.

"As the value of the Russian passport rapidly declines and the world opens its doors to Ukrainians, it is abundantly clear that the passport you hold determines your fate and dramatically impacts the opportunities you have," he said.

"While it is impossible to predict what the world will look like in the shadow of a new Cold War, the latest index suggests that the divide between Russia and much of the Western world will only increase."

While the current crisis in Ukraine has been the biggest driver of change in the current Henley index, it is widely agreed that over the next 25 years, it will be climate change, not conflict, that will shape our migratory patterns.

In the coming decades climate disruptions threaten to make some regions of our planet uninhabitable, and millions, if not billions, of people will need to find new homes
Parag Khanna, founder, Singapore’s FutureMap

“When faced with war or climate disruptions, our fight or flight instinct kicks in and the sensible response has been to move in search of more suitable conditions," Parag Khanna, author and founder of Singapore’s FutureMap, notes in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q2.

"We are gradually but noticeably becoming a migratory species again. In the coming decades climate disruptions threaten to make some regions of our planet uninhabitable, and millions, if not billions, of people will need to find new homes.”

Charles Phillips, of the Oxford Business Group, agrees that climate change will impact future performance in the index.

"We can see close correlations between climate adaptation performance and international travel freedom," he said.

"It brings into stark reality the fact that your citizenship and passport really do matter when it comes to mitigating climate risk."

The report also honed in on predictions that demand for air travel will increase exponentially in coming years, with forecasts indicating that there will be 10 billion passenger journeys in 2050, up from about four billion pre-pandemic.

Sebastian Mikosz, vice president of environment and sustainability at Iata, says: “Much of this growth will come from passengers who have never had the opportunity to fly before: in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We owe it to this next generation of flyers to find sustainable solutions, so they can enjoy and benefit from air travel as we have done so far.”

The most powerful passports in the world:

1. Japan / Singapore

2. Germany /South Korea

3. Finland / Italy /Luxembourg / Spain

4. Austria / Denmark / Netherlands /Sweden

5. France / Ireland / Portugal / United Kingdom

6. Belgium / New Zealand / Norway / Switzerland / United States

7. Australia / Canada / Czech Republic / Greece / Malta

8. Hungary

9. Lithuania / Poland / Slovakia

10. Estonia / Latvia /Slovenia

11. Iceland

12. Malaysia

13. Lichtenstein

14. Cyprus

15. The UAE

Updated: April 05, 2022, 2:07 PM