United Arab Emirates Continues to Have World’s Most Powerful Passport

With current travel restrictions related to COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine factored in, the UAE tops Arton Capital’s Passport Index with visa-free access to 174 destinations.

United Arab Emirates Continues to Have World’s Most Powerful Passport

UAE’s passport dominates the Passport Index by Arton Capital at the moment.

Photo by Shutterstock

As coronavirus-related border closures continue to be lifted in 2022, the world has become more accessible to many passport holders. Meanwhile, since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, many nations have dropped visa requirements for Ukrainian passport holders. In turn, many countries have stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens and banned Russian airlines from using their airspace.

After taking all of that into account, the United Arab Emirates passport is currently the most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 174 destinations. This makes it the strongest in the world, according to Arton Capital’s Passport Index, a ranking of the world’s passports in order of the number of destinations their holders can access without obtaining a visa prior to arrival.

Unlike the Henley Passport Index, which had Japan at the top of its 2022 rankings, Arton Capital’s Passport Index updates its rankings in real time as new visa waivers and changes are implemented, showing the current effects that COVID-19 travel bans and the war in Ukraine have on global mobility right now.

After slipping down the rankings in recent years, the UAE has made an impressive comeback in 2022. The lifting of COVID-19 border closures is one reason, but the UAE also got a boost thanks to subsidizing country pavilions at the Expo 2020 Dubai for lower-income nations in exchange for visa-free agreements.

Eleven countries trail behind the UAE in joint second place with visa-free access to 170 destinations currently: Germany, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and South Korea. Third place is a nine-way tie among Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Japan, Ireland, United States of America, and New Zealand with access to 169 destinations each.

With current travel restrictions in place, Russia doesn’t make an appearance until 35th on the list—slipping one spot since 2021—with visa-free access to 122 destinations. Ukraine maintained its spot at 20th, but it increased its visa-free access to 144 destinations from 127 in 2021.

Afghanistan is currently at the bottom of the rankings at 88th place with access to only 36 destinations. Syria and Iraq ranked only slightly higher with access to 38 and 39 destinations, respectively.

2022 strongest passports in the world, according to the Passport Index by Arton Capital

After taking in account COVID-19 and other travel restrictions, here’s how 2022’s most powerful passports in the world rank:

1. United Arab Emirates (174 destinations)
2. Germany, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, South Korea (170 destinations)
3. Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Japan, Ireland, United States of America, New Zealand (169 destinations)
4. Malta, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, United Kingdom, Australia (168 destinations)
5. Singapore, Lithuania, Slovakia, Canada (167 destinations)
6. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia (166 destinations)
7. Liechtenstein (165 destinations)
8. Cyprus, Iceland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria (164 destinations)
9. Malaysia (162 destinations)
10. Brazil, Monaco (160 destinations)

These rankings already show a significant rebound in mobility around the world. During 2020, the world’s most powerful passports allowed visa-free entry to just 112 destinations. Belgium, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Switzerland shared the top ranking that year.

When you remove these temporary restrictions, travel freedom for holders of many of these powerful passports looks very different. For example, when you view the Henley Passport Index, which released its most recent rankings on July 19, 2022, without factoring in COVID-19 border closures or other travel restrictions, the United States has access to 186 destinations, putting it at seventh on that list.

2022 strongest passports in the world, according to the Henley Passport Index

Without COVID-19 travel restrictions and Ukrainian-war related visa changes in place, 2022’s most powerful passports in the world are:

1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore, South Korea (192 destinations)
3. Germany, Spain (190 destinations)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189 destinations)
5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (188 destinations)
6. Ireland, Portugal, France, United Kingdom (187 destinations)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States (186 destinations)
8. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185 destinations)
9. Hungary (183 destinations)
10. Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (182 destinations)

The methodology

While the Passport Index by Arton takes into account the passports of 193 United Nations member countries plus six territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, and the Vatican) in its rankings, it excludes territories annexed to other countries—like French Polynesia and the British Virgin Islands—in its list of possible travel destinations that passport holders can access.

The Henley Passport Index ranks the same 199 passports, but it also cross-checks each of those passports against all 227 possible travel destinations in the world even if those territories don’t issue their own passports. Keep in mind that Arton’s rankings are more subject to change as COVID-19 travel restrictions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to evolve throughout 2022. To see the full rankings, visit henleypassportindex.com and passportindex.org.

This article originally appeared in 2020; it was updated most recently on August 10, 2022, to include current information.

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.