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This Country Has the Most Powerful Passport in the World and It’s Not the U.S.

For the second year in a row!

Now that the Henley Passport Index—a ranking of countries based on their citizens’ freedom to travel—is out, it appears Japan has the most powerful passport in 2019. What does that mean exactly? Japan’s passport offers travel access to 190 countries. In July 2018, the country was tied with Singapore as both had access to 189 countries. In October, however, Japanese citizens were granted access to Myanmar—a decision that has not yet been made for Singapore. Second to Japan, Singapore and South Korea both allow its citizens to travel to 189 countries. France and Germany tie for third with 188. The United States, whose passports allow for travel to 185 countries, ties with Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom for sixth place.

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passports heroChintung Lee/Shutterstock

The Index is based on information gathered throughout the year by the  International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and factors in 199 countries’ passports. Any policy changes that may affect a passport’s status is recorded in real-time.

According to reports, the U.S. ranked fifth in 2018. In 2015, it tied with the U.K. as the most powerful passports.

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Countries that Japan can enter without a visa that the U.S. needs a visa for include Vietnam, Laos, and Turkey. Countries that Americans are not permitted to visit are the Central African Republic, Eritrea, and Libya.

“Historical data from the Henley Passport Index over the past 14 years shows an overwhelming global tendency towards visa-openness,” said Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners. “In 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.”

Of the world’s weaker powerful passports in 2019, Palestinian Territory and Sudan come in at 99th place, allowing access to only 39 countries. Citizens of Somalia and Syria can only travel to 32 countries and at 104th place, Afghanistan and Iraq passports only allow travel to 30 countries.

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