European Quartet and Asian Leaders Share Top Passport Honors in 2024

European Quartet

In the 2024 rankings, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain from the European Union, alongside Singapore and Japan, have emerged as the holders of the world’s most powerful passports. The London-based consultancy Henley & Partners, specializing in global citizenship and residence, reports that citizens of these countries enjoy visa-free access to 194 destinations, setting a new benchmark in the 19-year history of the Henley Passport Index.

Singapore and Japan have been at the forefront of the index for the past five years, with Singapore offering visa-free access to 192 countries and Japan to 189 countries in the previous year’s report, marking the first time Japan fell to third place within this period.

The Henley Passport Index, unique in its reliance on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA), ranks 199 passports against 227 travel destinations based on the freedom of travel they provide without a prior visa.

The index, which is updated monthly, witnessed slight adjustments in February 2024. Notably, India descended to the 85th position, now providing visa-free access to 62 countries, despite new visa-free entries from countries like Iran, Malaysia, and Thailand. Conversely, the Maldives maintained its rank at 58th, offering access to 96 countries without a visa, while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh stood at 101st and 102nd, respectively, with Sri Lanka offering visa-free access to 43 countries and Bangladesh to 42. Pakistan and Nepal were ranked at 106th and 103rd.

The UAE showcased the most significant progression over the last decade according to Henley & Partners, ascending from 55th place in 2014 to 11th in January 2024 with visa-free access to 183 countries, though it slightly dropped to 12th place in February.

Ukraine and China were highlighted for their notable improvements, each gaining 21 places in the rankings over the past decade. As of February 2024, Ukraine ranked 31st, up from 32nd, and China 64th, improving from 62nd position. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation was placed 53rd, with its citizens enjoying visa-free travel to 119 countries.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the architect of the index, commented on the significant increase in travel freedom over the years, noting, “The average number of destinations travelers can access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024.” He highlighted the stark contrast in travel freedom, pointing out that the top-ranking countries can now visit 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which remains at the bottom of the list with access to just 28 countries without a visa.