CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Jan 9 – A Japanese passport will open more doors around the world than any other. This is according to the he Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the world’s most travel-friendly passports, in its first report of the new decade.
Japan offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world.
Asia dominates the top 5 position in the Henley list, with Singapore in second place with a score of 190 and South Korea tying with Germany in third place with a score of 189.
European countries have a strong showing in the top ten, with Finland and Spain at No.4, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark coming fifth, and Sweden and France sitting at No. 6.
The index’s historic success story remains the UAE, which has climbed a remarkable 47 places over the past 10 years and now sits in 18th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 171. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with access to only 26 destinations worldwide.
The US and the UK, meanwhile, continue to slide down the rankings; they hold joint eighth place — a far cry from the number one spot they jointly held five years ago, in 2015.
The ongoing certainty in the UK over what travel mobility in a post-Brexit Britain and Northern Ireland will look like means that this downward trend might not be reversed anytime soon.
The report quotes Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, as saying: “The Conservative government has promised an ‘Australian-style’ points-based system that would be more liberal than current policies towards non-EU citizens, though still much more restrictive than free movement. As with all big migration policy changes, what this will mean for actual levels of mobility, however, remains extremely difficult to predict.”
Sumption also notes that net EU migration to the UK fell by 59% between 2015 and 2018, with many EU citizens perhaps wary of settling in the UK with the threat of Brexit on the horizon.
One step above the UK on is Ireland, at No.7. A record-breaking 900,000 Irish passports were issued in 2019, due to a steady rise in applicants from British residents since the Brexit vote in 2016.