New Henley Passport Index Research Reveals Correlation between Passport Strength and Economic Power
The latest results from the Henley Passport Index provide fascinating insights into a world of upheaval, offering a telling look at what lies ahead. For the fifth consecutive year, Japan takes the top spot on index, which is based on International Air Transport Association (IATA) data. Japanese citizens can now visit 193 destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free, while citizens of South Korea and Singapore, which are tied in 2nd place, enjoy a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192. Germany and Spain are joint 3rd, with visa-free access to 190 destinations worldwide. The UK and the USA retain their 6th and 7th places, with scores of 187 and 186, respectively, and it seems increasingly unlikely that either will ever regain the top spot on the index, which they jointly held in 2014.
With global travel now at around 75% of pre-pandemic levels, those who can are embracing so-called ‘revenge travel’. But deeper analysis of the index reveals the darker side to this optimistic picture. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with a score of just 27–166 fewer visa-free destinations than Japan. This is the widest global mobility gap in the index’s 18-year history. As indicated by exclusive new research conducted by leading residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners into the link between passport strength and access to the global economy, citizens of the index’s lowest-ranking countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq (visa-free score of 29), and Syria (visa-free score of 30) are effectively shut out of accessing opportunities for economic mobility and growth.
Chairman of Henley & Partners and inventor of the passport index concept, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, highlights that this latest study enhances our understanding of what passport power means in financial terms. “The Henley Passport Index measures visa-free access to 227 destinations across the world, which of course makes it an extremely useful tool for travelers. However, for global citizens and international businesspeople, a better measure of economic mobility and opportunity afforded by their passports is an indication of what share of the world’s GDP is accessible to them visa-free. Our latest research into how much global economic access each passport provides is a useful tool for investors, in addition to giving new insight into the ever-widening economic inequality and wealth disparity that has come to define our world.”
Direct link between passport strength and economic power
By combining Henley Passport Index data and World Bank GDP data, the new research, which is published in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2023 Q1, ranks all 199 passports in the world in terms of their Henley Passport Power (HPP) score, a term that indicates the percentage of global GDP each passport provides to its holders’ visa-free. The Japanese passport, for instance, gives visa-free access to 193 destinations (85% of the world). Collectively, these countries account for a remarkable 98% of the global economy (with Japan’s own GDP contribution being around 5%). To contrast this figure with a passport from the lower end of the spectrum, Nigerian passport holders can access only 46 destinations visa-free (20% of the world), and these countries account for just 1.5% of global GDP. The lowest ranking Afghanistan passport provides visa-free access to just 12% of the world and less than 1% of global economic output.
In terms of percentage of global GDP, the USA and China have the lion’s share, with 25% and 19% respectively, but American passport holders can access a further 43% of the world’s economic output visa-free, bringing their total to 68%, whereas Chinese passport holders can only access an additional 7% visa-free, taking their total access to just 26% of global GDP.
Commenting in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2023 Q1, financial writer and global investment expert Jeff Opdyke says although we don’t often think of our passports in a financial sense, they are a gateway to fiscal opportunity. “A stronger passport isn’t just about greater freedom of movement: it’s about greater financial freedoms in terms of investing and entrepreneurial opportunities.”
To find out more and explore your passport power, read the Henley Global Mobility Report 2023 Q1