When it comes to international travel, there are a lot of considerations to make before booking. What kind of visa do you need? How long can you stay? Are there limits on where you can stay?
But some countries’ citizens have it easier than others. In fact, there’s a ranking for that! The Official Passport Index Rating by consulting company Henley & Partners is a list of 199 passports from 199 different countries and how mobile they are, which means how many countries (out of 227 possible destinations) a passport-holder can enter without needing a prior visa.
Can you guess which country’s passport is number one on the list? Japan, of course.
Japan’s passport allows its citizens to visit 193 out of the 227 destinations without a visa, beating out Singapore and South Korea by one and Germany and Spain by three. For reference, the UK is tied for sixth with 187 visa-free destinations; the U.S. is tied for seventh with 186 destinations; and Australia is tied for 8th with 185 destinations. The country with the lowest amount of countries their passport holders can visit without a visa is Afghanistan with 27, followed by Iraq (29), Syria (30), Pakistan (32), and Yemen (34).
Something else that sets Japan’s passport apart is that it allows visa-free access to China, who doesn’t offer similar benefits to many European and North American passport holders, as well as India, Iran, Myanmar, Suriname, Turkey, and Vietnam, which all have similar entry restrictions. The difference between Japan and second-place Singapore and South Korea, however, isn’t as clear-cut, as there are several countries that permit citizens from one or two of these countries, but not all three.
As for which countries don’t allow Japanese travelers in without a prior visa, most are countries that appear to have universal visa requirements or entry restrictions, including many countries in Africa and several in the Middle East, as well as Bhutan, Cuba, Malta, Nauru, North Korea, and Russia.
Japanese Twitter users expressed pride at the ranking and offered various theories as to why Japan’s passport is the most mobile in the world:
“I feel like this is something to be proud of, rather than just being a developed country. We have to make sure to keep it up.”
“I think Japan earned this result because of all the trust we’ve built up.”
“Since we’re talking about Japan, they probably made it this way not because they wanted to make travel easy, but because they wanted to make business trips easy. I’m sure they worked hard for it.”
“This is the result of all the people who have traveled before, so those of us who will travel in the future need to be on our best behavior too. Thank you to everyone who has traveled abroad!”
“Even though no one can take vacation days and actually go.”
“I only go to the States, but I’m grateful.”
“Japan’s greatest asset is ‘trust.'”
2023 marks the fifth year in a row that Japan has had the most mobile passport, a legacy that started in 2018 and has extended even throughout COVID-19 restrictions. Truly impressive.
Sources: Asahi Shimbun via livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Henley & Partners, Twitter/@livedoornews
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