STOCK Emirati Passport UAE Passport
The UAE was the fastest climber over the past decade, jumping to 11th place and offering access to 183 destinations without a visa. And China, up two spots this year to land in 62nd place, has visa-free access to 85 destinations "- almost twice as many as 10 years ago. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The UAE has remained the biggest climber on the Henley Passport Index over the past decade, adding an impressive 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014, resulting in a massive 44-place jump in the ranking, from 55th to 11th position.

The report, published on Wednesday by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm, is based on exclusive official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Meanwhile, an unprecedented six countries share the top spot with visa-free access to a record-breaking number of destinations on the 2024 index.

Four EU nations join Singapore, Japan 

For the past five years Singapore and Japan have boasted the world's most powerful travel documents, granting their citizens access to more countries without a prior visa than anyone else. This year, however, things have changed.

Four EU member states — France, Germany, Italy, and Spain — join Japan and Singapore in boasting the most powerful passports in the world, with their citizens able to visit an astonishing 194 destinations out of 227 around the globe visa-free. The two Asian nations have dominated 1st place on the index (which ranks all the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa) for the past five years.

Residents of France, Germany, Italy and Spain now have visa-free access to 194 of 227 destinations, three more than last year.

South Korea, Sweden and Finland all climbed one spot to take joint second place, with access to 193 locations. Austria, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands shared third place, allowing travel to 192 places.

The UK now ranks joint fourth (access to 191 destinations), while the US retained joint seventh place (188 destinations). A decade ago, the two countries shared the top spot. And comparing this year's list to the 2014 ranking reveals some other major shifts.

Biggest climbers

Ukraine and China are also among the Top 5 countries with the most improved rankings over the past 10 years (a net total gain of 21 places each), and both have climbed a further two ranks in the past year.Dr Christian Kaelin, chairman of immigration consultancy Henley & Partners, said that while the general trend over the years had been toward greater travel freedom, the gap between those at either end of the list was wider than ever.

"The average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free has nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 111 in 2024," he said.

"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."

Rounding out the bottom five places are Syria (access to 29 countries), Iraq (31), Pakistan (34) and Yemen (35).

Henley & Partners compiles the Passport Index based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).