By Marta Lillo
Significant trends are shaping the global passport strength landscape in 2023.
Singapore recently stole the top spot in this year's Henley Passport Index. The Singaporean travel document allows citizens to visit 192 travel destinations out of 227 countries or territories visa-free, solidifying the Asian position in passport strength in the global ranking.
Singapore took over first place from Japan for the first time in five years.
The 2023 index also showcases another significant regional performance: the increasing competitiveness of European passports. Germany, Italy, and Spain are second, providing visa-free access to 190 destinations.
Japan and six other nations — Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden — make the third place, allowing 189 destinations without a prior visa. Also, the United Kingdom saw a positive shift in its passport strength, jumping two places to the fourth position.
A third significant fact in the latest index is the continuous decline in US passport strength, which dropped two places to eighth place, with access to only 184 visa-free destinations.
These key trends also show in other renowned passport strength indexes as countries compete for mobility and attractiveness, highlighting the evolving dynamics of global travel and geopolitical influence.
Consistent European competitiveness over the US passport
The decline of the US passport's strength and the European passports' rising appeal are evident when analyzing the 2023 releases of two other major passport indexes — the Global Passport Index and the Passport Index.
In the Global Citizen Solutions' 2023 Global Passport Index, Germany ranks first for investment opportunities, quality of life, travel mobility and for providing visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 198 countries or territories. It's the first time the German passport surpasses the United States to the top spot, signifying Europe's competitiveness.
Factors such as visa policy changes and geopolitical developments would explain the US' second place. Meanwhile, Sweden ranks third, perhaps the biggest surprise in this year's edition, as it climbed three positions from 2022.
Meanwhile, Sweden ranks second in Arton Capital's 2023 Passport Index, followed by Germany, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland, all equally providing visa-free access to 175 countries and territories.
Asia is increasing its passport power
Asia's passport dominance arises across other indexes, albeit less predominant than in Henley's. South Korea, Japan, and Singapore hold the 12th, 24th, and 28th positions in the 2023 Arton index, with Singapore holding second place between 2016 and 2018.
Meanwhile, UAE has ranked first in Arton's Passport Index since 2018, except for 2020 when Germany took the lead. The Emirates scored the highest overall mobility levels, with citizens not needing a visa to travel to 180 countries or territories.
Although each index's methodologies vary, these overall patterns in passport strength are evident. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the Henley index draws its data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA); the Global Passport Index analyzes composite indicators used by various international institutions and multilateral organizations such as The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the Sustainable Development Report. Meanwhile, Arton uses official information provided by governments and intelligence obtained through crowdsourcing, enhanced with proprietary research from credible sources.
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