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A trio of Asian passports offer their holders greater international travel freedom than those from any other country, according to a new quarterly report published by the global citizenship and residency advisory firm Henley & Partners, based in London.
Japanese citizens enjoy visa-free or on-demand access to a record 193 destinations worldwide, just ahead of Singapore and South Korea, whose citizens can freely visit 192 countries.
And now that the Asia-Pacific region is opening up after years of restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, its citizens are likely to make use of that freedom of travel again.
International travel is now at 75% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest release from the Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Below the top three Asian countries, the table continues with a large number of European countries at the top.
Germany and Spain are tied with 190 visa-free destinations, followed by Finland, Italy and Luxembourg with 189 destinations.
Then there are Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, all tied for fifth place, while France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom share number 6.
New Zealand and the United States appear at No. 7, along with Belgium, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Afghan citizens are again at the bottom of the index and can access only 27 countries without needing to apply for a visa in advance.
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The Henley & Partner list is one of several indices created by financial firms to rank global passports based on the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index ranks 199 passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
It is updated in real time throughout the year, as changes in visa policies take effect.
For its part, Arton Capital's passport index takes into account the passports of 193 member countries of the United Nations and six territories: the Republic of China Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, the Palestinian territory and the Vatican.
Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
It is also updated in real time throughout the year, but its data is collected through close monitoring of government portals.
It's a tool "for people who travel, to provide accurate and easily accessible information for their travel needs," Arton Capital founder Armand Arton told CNN in December.
Arton's Global Passport Power Rank 2023 places the United Arab Emirates in first place, with a score of 181 for visa/visa free travel.
As for the second place, it is occupied by 11 countries, most of which are in Europe: Germany, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and South Korea.
The United States and the United Kingdom rank third, along with Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Ireland, and New Zealand.
The Best Passports to Own in 2023, According to the Henley Passport Index
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore, South Korea (192 destinations)
3. Germany, Spain (190 destinations)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189 destinations)
5. Austria, Denmark, the 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 have in 2023, according to the Henley Passport Index
Various countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 40 countries or less.
102. North Korea (40 destinations)
103. Nepal and the 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)