The index is calculated by Henley & Partners, a global investment firm specializing in residence and citizenship, using data from International Air Transport Association (IATA). Currency in its 17th year, the study looks at 199 passports and their access to 227 destinations.
"The index's scoring system was developed to give users a nuanced, practical, and reliable overview of their passport's power," the report read. "Each passport is scored on the total number of destinations that the holder can access visa-free."
Just behind Japan in passport power are another two Asian countries, Singapore and South Korea, tied for second place with hassle-free entry into 192 nations. They're followed by a string of European countries, with Germany and Spain tied for third with 190 nations; Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg in fourth with 189; Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden in fifth with 188; and France, Ireland, Portugal, and the UK in sixth with 187.
"Top-ranking passports have bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels in terms of access," Henley & Partners CEO Dr. Juerg Steffen said in an analysis of the report, noting that at the peak of the pandemic, Japanese passport holders had access to 76 countries, UK to 74 and the U.S. to 56.
The U.S. is in seventh place, tied with Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, all of those passport holders having access to 186 countries.
Rounding out the top 10 are Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, and Malta in eighth with 185; Hungary in ninth with 183; and Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia in 10th place with 182.
One notable change is that of the United Arab Emirates, which is now in 15th place with 176 countries, having been in 64th place a decade ago with 106.
"The latest results from the Henley Passport Index are a heartening reminder of the very human desire for global connectivity even as some countries move toward isolationism and autarky," Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, the company's chairman who invented the index, said. "The shock of the pandemic was unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, and the recovery and reclamation of our travel freedoms, and our innate instinct to move and migrate will take time."