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Japanese Passport is still the World's Most Powerful

The Japanese passport is still the most powerful passport in the world, according to the most recent Henley Passport Index. Japanese passport-holders can enter 190 countries and territories without needing to apply for a visa in advance.

It is the second consecutive year Japan has topped the poll which is revised quarterly. There are two countries in joint-second place in the passport rankings: Singapore and South Korea, whose citizens can enter 189 countries without a visa.

Another Asian country, China, has also moved up the list of most powerful passports. Last year it was 85th but has now moved up to 69th in the table.

Countries in the European Union have also had a good year with France and Germany in joint-third, and Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden in joint-fourth. Both the US and the UK continue to slip down the passport index (down to joint-sixth).

The least powerful passports on the list tend to be countries who have recently experienced war or upheaval, such as Eritrea, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia.

Top 10 most powerful passports 2019

Here are the best passports to have according to the latest Henley Index. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the amount of countries passport-holders can enter visa-free.

1. Japan (190)
2. Singapore, South Korea (189)
3. France, Germany (188)
4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden (187)
5. Luxembourg, Spain (186)
6. Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (185)
7. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland (184)
8. Czech Republic (183)
9. Malta (182)
10. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand (181)

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"A bright spot in an increasingly isolationist world"

Christian Kalin, Chairman of Henley and Partners, said: "The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world."

He said the overall increase in visa-free travel is a bright spot in an increasingly isolationist world.

"South Korea and the United Arab Emirates' recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community," he said.

In contrast, the UK's anticipated withdrawal from the EU (set for March 29) could have an adverse on the British passport's ranking. Henley's press release said: "While the deal hangs in the balance, it is difficult to anticipate what the ultimate ramifications will be for EU and UK citizens, as well as for EU and UK trade and co-operation."

"London's finance sector could lose a substantial part of its appeal, and other European countries (notably, France, Germany, and Ireland) could decide to strengthen policy measures to attract financial sector workers," it said.

How Brexit works out remains to be seen. But if and when it happens, British travelers may find they have visa-free access to fewer countries.

The Henley Index ranking system is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as their own research. It is updated throughout the year as and when countries make changes to their visa policies.

It is not the only passport index of its kind. The Arton Capital Passport Index is also regularly updated but uses a different methodology.