London-based travel Henley & Partners has released a ranking of passports for 2023. The list places the Pakistani passport amongst the five worst passports out of 109 countries, CNN reported Tuesday.
Only 35 out of the 227 travel destinations considered in the list, allow Pakistani passport holders visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry, followed by Syria (25 destinations), Iraq (29 destinations), and Afghanistan (27 destinations).
However, in comparison to Pakistan, India ranks far better and has been placed on 85, according to a newly-released quarterly report by the London-based firm.
Japan’s passport, according to Henley, tops the list of passports that allow travel freedom to citizens and passport holders.
The world’s top three most powerful passports all belong to Asian countries. Of these, the Japanese passport offers its holders the greatest degree of global travel freedom, followed by passports of Singapore and South Korea.
Japanese passports allow nationals of Japan visa-free or visa-on-demand access to an astounding 193 countries around the world. Singapore and South Korea follow suit as nationals of these countries can freely visit 192 other nations.
After the three Asian countries, the countries with the most powerful passports are largely European.
Passports from both Germany and Spain allow holders to freely travel to 190 destinations, followed by Italy, Luxembourg and Finland, which allow nationals to visit 189 countries with ease.
In fifth place, the passports of Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and Netherlands are all tied; whereas, the passports of France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom are at number 6.
Surprisingly enough, the US passport is slated at number 7, along with the passports of Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
At the bottom of the list is the Afghan passport, which allows Afghan nationals visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to only 27 countries in the world.
The best passports to hold in 2023:
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore, South Korea (192 destinations)
3. Germany, Spain (190 destinations)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189 destinations)
5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (188 destinations)
6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom (187 destinations)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Czech Republic (186 destinations)
8. Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta (185 destinations)
9. Hungary, Poland (184 destinations)
10. Lithuania, Slovakia (183 destinations)
The worst passports to hold in 2023:
Countries that allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 40 or fewer destinations.
102. North Korea (40 destinations)
103. Nepal, Palestinian territory (38 destinations)
104. Somalia (35 destinations)
105. Yemen (34 destinations)
106. Pakistan (32 destinations)
107. Syria (30 destinations)
108. Iraq (29 destinations)
109. Afghanistan (27 destinations)
Travel and the pandemic
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the tourism industry had become one of the top sectors in the world economy, before the COVID-19 pandemic. It accounted for 10% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 320 million jobs worldwide.
However, the pandemic and the subsequent ban on most international flights resulted in a drastic reduction in people travelling to international destinations.
The Henley Passport Index, based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), also asserts that global travel is now at around 75% of pre-pandemic levels.
Now that the Asia-Pacific is finally allowing people to travel into and outside the region, it is likely that citizens of the Asian countries with the most powerful passports will be making use of that travel freedom again.
It must be remembered that the Henley & Partner list is only one of numerous indexes created by various financial firms to rank passports according to the access provided to their citizens.
Another index, the Arton Capital’s Passport Index, ranks the passports of 193 countries that are members of the United Nations, along with six territories — ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican.
This index is updated all year round as well; however, its data is gathered via the portals of individual governments.
In the words of the founder of Arton Capital’s Armand Arton, the index is a tool “for people who travel, to provide accurate, simple-to-acess information for their travel needs.”
Arton’s Global Passport Power Rank 2023 puts in the top spot the passport of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 181.
The second spot in this list is shared by 11 — mostly European — countries. These include Germany, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and South Korea.
This list ranks the US and the UK are at number 3, which is a spot shared by Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Ireland and New Zealand as well.