After five years sitting pretty at the top, Germany has been knocked off its most-powerful-passport-in-the-world perch: A new “live index” shows that Japan and Singapore are tied for number one, offering their citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations. Germany comes in second, with visa-free access to just (sigh, just) 188 countries.
The index, created by London-based consulting firm Henley & Partners with the International Air Transport Association (which has the world’s largest database of travel information), judges the top passports in the world by how much visa-free travel they allow. Generally, visa requirements are indicative of a country’s relationship with another—reciprocity, as illustrated by the contentious battle over U.S. travelers’ visa-free access to Europe, is often an expectation.
In the past, this was an annual list, released every January. Now, “the site is updated in real-time as visa-policy changes come into effect,” says a spokesperson for Henley & Partners, which is why the list changes every few months. The United Kingdom and the U.S. are currently tied for fourth along with Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal, offering their citizens visa-free access to 186 destinations.
The passport to watch? The United Arab Emirates, which currently sits in 21st place but has climbed 40 spots since 2008—and 17 since last year—and has gained visa-free access to Canada, China, Barbados, Brazil, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Ireland, Tonga, and Uruguay in 2018 alone. On the lower end of the spectrum are Iraq and Afghanistan, which sit at the bottom of the index and each have visa-free access to 30 destinations worldwide. Here, a look at the top 27.
=1. Japan, Singapore 189 countries can be visited without a visa
2. Germany 188
=3. Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, South Korea 187
=4. Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, United States 186
=5. Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada 185
=6. Australia, Greece 183
=7. New Zealand, Czech Republic, Malta 182
8. Iceland 181
This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated with the latest results.