In a significant upheaval of the quarterly ranking, six countries have achieved a remarkable tie for the leading position in the latest Henley Passport Index, showcasing the hottest travel documents for 2024.
Quoting Henley & Partners, the London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and Spain now enjoy unparalleled visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to an impressive 194 destinations worldwide. This marks the highest number of accessible destinations recorded in the 19-year history of the Henley Passport Index, which utilizes exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for its rankings.
“The average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024,” notes Christian H. Kaelin, the chair of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index. Kaelin points out that the global mobility gap has widened over the past two decades, with the top-ranked countries now enjoying visa-free travel to a staggering 166 more destinations than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to only 28 countries without a visa.
The recent rankings represent a triumphant rise for European nations, as the Asian dominance of Japan and Singapore, which held the No. 1 spot for the past five years, has now been disrupted.
Finland and Sweden are tied with South Korea in second place, boasting easy access to 193 destinations. Following closely in third place are Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands, offering their citizens access to 192 destinations.
The rankings continue with Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom at No. 4, and Greece, Malta, and Switzerland at No. 5. Australia and New Zealand have improved their standings, securing the No. 6 position alongside Czechia and Poland. Meanwhile, the United States and Canada find themselves tied in seventh place with Hungary, providing their citizens with visa-free access to 188 destinations.
Notably, the United Arab Emirates emerges as the biggest climber on the index over the past decade, adding an impressive 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014 and securing the 11th position this year.
Discussing the widening global mobility gap, Kaelin emphasizes, “While the general trend over the past two decades has been towards greater travel freedom, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever.”
It is essential to note that Henley & Partners’ ranking is one among several indexes created by financial firms to assess global passports based on the access they provide to their citizens.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index, for instance, considers the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories, excluding territories annexed to other countries. The index is updated in real-time throughout the year, relying on close monitoring of individual governments’ portals.
Arton Capital’s Global Passport Power Rank 2024 places the United Arab Emirates at the top spot, boasting a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 180. The second position is held by five European countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.
Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Switzerland claim the No. 3 spot, while the UK and the US find themselves in 5th and 6th place, respectively. In Arton Capital’s 2023 roundup, Albania was recognized as the “rising star” due to a surge in global mobility gains by regional power hubs and increased demand for its citizens.
The latest Henley Passport Index for 2024 reflects a historic tie at the top, with six nations sharing the title for the world’s most powerful passports. This development marks a significant shift in global travel freedoms, with European countries prominently featured in the top rankings. The widening mobility gap underscores the varying degrees of access citizens have to international destinations, emphasizing the need for continued monitoring and assessment of global passport power.