Henley Passport Index 2023: India rises two spots in passport strength index

While India has moved up from its spot at the 87th place on the list, it’s access to visa-free travel to countries has decreased by one

January 20, 2023 02:02 pm | Updated February 28, 2023 01:39 pm IST

A close-up view of the Indian Passport. File.

A close-up view of the Indian Passport. File. | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

This year’s Henley Passport Index, released earlier in the month on January 10, puts India’s passport on the 85 th spot, moving it up two places from its position in 2022.

Based on data available from the International Air Transport Association, the index ranks passports of countries, “according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.” With access to 193 countries, Japan tops the list as the world’s most powerful passport, while Afghanistan is ranked last in the list, its passport giving access to only 27 countries.

While India has moved up from its spot at the 87 th place on the list, it’s access to countries has decreased by one. In 2022 the Indian passport-holders enjoyed visa-free/visa-on-arrival travel to 60 countries, in 2023 this has come down to 59 countries.

When the first edition of the Henley Passport Index was published in 2006 India was ranked 71, with visa-free access to only 25 countries.

Access to the global GDP

Henley & Partners, who prepare the index, have also assessed the passports based on how much of the global GDP can be accessed by the passport-holder. “By combining Henley Passport Index data and World Bank GDP data, the new research ranks all 199 passports in the world in terms of their Henley Passport Power (HPP) score,” the statement said.

Consequently, the strongest passport (Japan) allows visa-free travel to 193 countries (85% of the world), i.e. a gateway to 98% of the global economy. On the other hand, an Afghanistan passport allows the passport-holder to have visa-free access to only 1% of the world’s economy.

This ‘global mobility gap’ as the index calls it highlights how countries are “shut out of a shockingly wide breadth of opportunities for economic mobility and growth.”

Regarding Indian passport-holders the index said that, “Despite having the world’s fifth-largest economy: its passport holders can access just 59 destinations worldwide and only 6.7% of global GDP, of which the country’s own GDP accounts for around half.”

Top 10 powerful passports
As per the Henley Passport Index 2023, following are the top 10 most powerful passports based on the number of visa-free/visa-on-arrival access the passport-holder has:
1. Japan- 193 countries
2. Singapore, South Korea- 192 countries
3. Germany, Spain- 190 countries
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg- 189 countries
5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden- 188 countries
6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom- 187 countries
7. Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States- 186 countries
8. Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta- 185 countries
9. Hungary, Poland- 184 countries
10. Lithuania, Slovakia- 183 countries

Impact of Russia-Ukraine crisis

The report also analysed the impact that Russia’s attack on Ukraine has had on travel. Russia’s attack, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has already killed thousands, and displaced millions since it began on February 24, 2022.

Russia is currently ranked 49 th with a score of 118, while Ukraine sits 13 places above, ranking 36 th with a score of 144. However, airspace closures and sanctions, have interrupted travel for Russian citizens with the marked exceptions of Dubai and Istanbul, Henley’s report said.

For Ukraine, the report forecasts a swift climb for the country to the Top 10 as Ukrainians have been granted the right to live and work in the European Union for up to three years under an emergency plan. “Already one of the biggest climbers on the Henley Passport Index, moving up 24 places over the past decade, Ukraine would likely break into the Top Ten most powerful passports in the world if it were to join the EU,” it said.

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