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The World's Most, Least Powerful Passports in 2019

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 1/9/2019 Patrick Clarke

Japanese passport holders are the most powerful travelers for the second straight year, according to Henley & Partners 2019 Passport Index.

Japan's passport grants access to a whopping 190 countries, more than any other document.

Businessman giving U.S. passport (Photo via Kritchanut / iStock / Getty Images Plus) © Getty Images Businessman giving U.S. passport (Photo via Kritchanut / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Fellow Asian countries Singapore and South Korea tied for second (189), according to the index, which is based on "exclusive" data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and extensive research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.

France and Germany are in joint third place (188) followed by fourth-place Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden (187). Luxembourg and Spain both rank fifth with access to 186 countries.

The U.S. passport, which tied for first with the U.K. as recently as 2015, is only the sixth-most powerful in the world (185), tying Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and the U.K.

Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Malta, Australia, Iceland and New Zealand complete the top 10, each offering access to more than 180 countries.

Meanwhile, China is among the big movers in 2019, rising to 69th on the Passport Index after ranking 85th in 2017. Still, the Chinese passport grants access to only 74 countries.

The least-travel-friendly passports are only half as effective as China's though, with Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq rounding out the bottom of the index. The latter two documents access just 30 of the world's nearly 200 countries.

"The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world," said Henley & Partners' Group Chairman Christian Kalin.

"South Korea and the United Arab Emirates' recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community."

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