“Unprecedented” is how the organisers behind the rankings to find the world’s most powerful passport have described the latest index.

For the first time, six countries now top the list of Henley & Partners.

Previous table-toppers Japan and Singapore have been joined by four EU member states – France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Citizens of these countries have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 194 destinations out of the 227 the rankings measure.

Just behind is South Korea, Finland and Sweden with visa-free travel to 193 destinations.

New Zealand is ranked joint sixth, or joint 22nd depending on how you read the rankings, with 189 destinations.

Down at the bottom is Afghanistan with access to 28 countries, just ahead of Syria (29) and Iraq (31).

Dr Christian H Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners, said the gap between the top and bottom of the index is now wider than ever: “The average number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024.

“However, as we enter the new year, the top-ranked countries are now able to travel to a staggering 166 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the ranking with access to just 28 countries without a visa.”

The Henley Passport Index uses data from the International Air Transport Association for its measurements, covering 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

Another ranking, the Passport Index, looks at the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories. It updates more regularly throughout the year and currently has the United Arab Emirates leading with New Zealand in joint sixth, or joint 23rd depending on how you want to view the rankings.

The Global Passport Index rates passports not only on how many countries their holders can visit either without a visa or a visa on arrival, but also on quality of life and investment opportunities. Data is gleaned from organisations such as the World Bank, World Economic Forum and Sustainable Development Forum.

Topping the list is Germany, ahead of the US in second and Sweden in third. New Zealand is 17th in this ranking.

Henley Passport Index: Top 10 most powerful

  1. France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain (194)
  2. Finland, South Korea, Sweden (193)
  3. Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands (192)
  4. Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, UK (191)
  5. Greece, Malta, Switzerland (190)
  6. Australia, Czechia, New Zealand, Poland (189)
  7. Canada, Hungary, US (188)
  8. Estonia, Lithuania (187)
  9. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (186)
  10. Iceland (185)

Henley Passport Index: Top 10 least powerful

  1. Afghanistan (28)
  2. Syria (29)
  3. Iraq (31)
  4. Pakistan (34)
  5. Yemen (35)
  6. Somalia (36)
  7. Libya, Nepal, Palestinian Territories (40)
  8. Bangladesh, North Korea (42)
  9. Eritrea, Sri Lanka (43)
  10. Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan (45)