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United Arab Emirates Now Has the Most Powerful Passport in the World

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

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

With current COVID-19 travel restrictions factored in, the UAE tops Arton Capital’s Passport Index with visa-free access to 160 destinations.

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When taking coronavirus-related border closures into account, a United Arab Emirates passport is currently the most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 160 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’s and Singapore’s passports tied 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 effect COVID-19 travel bans 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.

Sweden, Finland, and Italy trail behind the UAE in joint second place with visa-free access to 153 destinations currently. Third place is a 10-way tie among Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Switzerland, South Korea, and New Zealand with access to 152 destinations each. With current COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, the United States doesn’t make an appearance until sixth on the list, with visa-free access to 149 destinations currently. 


Afghanistan and Iraq are currently at the bottom of the rankings at 89th place with access to only 34 destinations. Syria ranked only slightly higher with access to 35 destinations.

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

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

  1. United Arab Emirates (160 destinations)
  2. Sweden, Finland, Italy (153 destinations)
  3. Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Switzerland, South Korea, New Zealand (152 destinations)
  4. Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Australia (151 destinations)
  5. Malta, Czech Republic, Hungary, United Kingdom, Ireland (150 destinations)
  6. Greece, Slovakia, United States (149 destinations)
  7. Lithuania, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Canada (148 destinations)
  8. Japan, Liechtenstein (147 destinations)
  9. Singapore, Croatia (146 destinations)
  10. Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria (145 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, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland shared that top ranking that year.

When you remove these temporary coronavirus-related travel bans, 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 January 11, 2022, without factoring in COVID-19 travel bans, the United States ranks sixth globally with access to 186 destinations.

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

Without COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, 2022’s most powerful passports in the world are:

  1. Japan, Singapore (192 destinations)
  2. Germany, South Korea (190 destinations)
  3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189 destinations)
  4. Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Sweden (188 destinations)
  5. Ireland, Portugal (187 destinations)
  6. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (186 destinations)
  7. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185 destinations)
  8. Hungary, Poland (183 destinations)
  9. Lithuania, Slovakia (182 destinations)
  10. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia (181 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 begin to evolve throughout 2022. To see the full rankings, visit henleypassportindex.com and passportindex.org.

This article originally appeared on January 16, 2020; it was updated on January 12, 2021, and again on January 12, 2022, to include current information.

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