London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners has released the Henley Passport Index for the year 2023. The strength of a passport is said to provide its holders more access and mobility to foreign markets and economies.
In 2023, India stands at the 85th position, two places ahead of last year’s 87th spot. Earlier in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, the country ranked at 82nd spot, 84th, 85th and 83rd respectively. Last year, an Indian passport holder had visa-free access to 60 countries; this year, one has access to 59. For international business persons and investors, this can substantially affect their business outcomes.
The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. Originally created by Dr. Christian H. Kaelin , the ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
The Henley Passport Index is updated quarterly according to countries’ visa policy changes. It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports. It is updated in real time throughout the year as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
According to dailyo, financial writer and global investment expert Jeff Opdyke commenting on Henley Passport Index said that a stronger passport means “greater financial freedoms in terms of investing and entrepreneurial opportunities”.
Japan continues to top the list of the world’s most powerful passports. Japanese citizens can travel to as many as 193 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival access destinations around the world. The second spot is shared by Singapore and South Korea and gives visa-free access destinations to 192 countries.
With respect to the worst passport, Afghanistan’s passport is the world’s worst passport ranked at 109 with a visa- free score of 27. Iraq is the second worst passport ranked at 108 with a visa- free score of 29.
The biggest change this time for the Indian passport has been losing visa-free access to Serbia. Starting January 1, 2023, Indian passport holders now need to apply for a visa to enter the country unlike earlier which allowed visa-free travel to the country for 90 days. Increasing migration has been cited as the reason.
Indian passport holders can travel visa-free to 59 destinations like Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Macao, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Iran and Qatar.
According to Henley Passport Index’s analysis, India fares worse, despite having the world’s fifth-largest economy: its passport holders can access just 59 destinations worldwide and only 6.7 per cent of global GDP, of which the country’s own GDP accounts for around half.
Here is the list of the top 10 strongest passports in the world
1. Japan (193)
2. Singapore/South Korea (192)
3. Germany/Spain (190)
4. Finland/Italy/Luxembourg (189)
5. Austria/Denmark/Netherlands/Sweden (188)
6. France/Ireland/Portugal/United Kingdom (187)
7. Belgium/Czech Republic/New Zealand/Norway/Switzerland/United States (186)
8. Australia/Canada/Greece/Malta (185)
9. Hungary/Poland (184)
10. Lithuania/Slovakia (183)