The UAE continues to have the strongest passport in the Middle East and North Africa region and one of the most powerful in the world, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.

The UAE passport is ranked at the 15th position globally in the index for the third quarter of the year, with visa-free or visa-on arrival access to 170 international destinations.

Japan, whose passport allows holders to travel to 193 destinations without a prior visa, took the number one spot, followed by Singapore and South Korea in the second position; Germany and Spain (3rd); Finland, Italy and Luxembourg (4th); Austria, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden (5th).

Henley's passport ranking is based on official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).


Global mobility was restricted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when borders around the world closed or limited the entry of foreign visitors.

With COVID-19 restrictions now easing, Henley's research also found that the world's top-ranking passports have bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels in terms of access.

UK and US passport holders, for instance, can now have unrestricted access to 158 destinations around the world, as opposed to just 74 and 56 destinations, respectively, at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

For Japanese passport holders, they can now enjoy unrestricted access to 161 destinations, as opposed to only 76 in 2020.

Lower-ranking passports are also beginning to recover. 

Holders of Indian passport now have roughly the same travel freedom as they did prior to the pandemic, with unrestricted access to 57 destinations worldwide, as opposed to 23 in 2020.

South African passport holders now enjoy unrestricted access to 95 destinations. This is close to their pre-pandemic passport score of 105.

As restrictions eased, demand for travel has also increased.

According to Chris Dix of visa processing agency VFS Global, visa application volumes between January and May this year went up by more than 100 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

"With the opening of international borders, easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of regular international flights, the industry is currently witnessing peak 'revenge travel'. For example, in India, visa applications are averaging more than 20,000 per day as we head into the July-August holiday season," Dix said.

"These numbers include travellers visiting Canada, Europe and the UK, along with other popular destinations."

World's top 20 passports (Q3 2022)

1. Japan

2. Singapore, South Korea

3. Germany, Spain

4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg

5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden

6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom

7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States

8. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta

9. Hungary

10.Lithuania Poland, Slovakia

11. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia

12. Iceland

13. Malaysia

14. Liechtenstein

15. UAE, Cyprus

16. Chile, Monaco, Romania

17. Bulgaria, Croatia

18. Hong Kong

19. Argentina, Brazil

20. San Marino

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)