Countries with the most powerful passports to hold in 2020

Asia dominates list of most powerful passports.
Asia dominates list of most powerful passports. Photo credit: Getty Images

The New Zealand passport has continued to drop down the list of the world's most powerful passports, according to the Henley Passport Index for 2020.

New Zealand placed ninth alongside Malta, Czech Republic, Canada and Australia.
Our passport was forth on the list in 2015 and eighth in both 2018 and 2019.

Asian countries have solidified their spots at the top of the list of most the powerful passports in the world.

The Henley Passport Index ranks the world's passports according to the number of countries that can be entered without a visa for the passport holder. Countries where a visitors visa or permit can be obtained easily on arrival are included.

Japan tops the list, with access available to those holding the country's passport into 191 countries without needing a pre-approved visa.

The top three also includes Singapore and South Korea.

The best passports to hold:

1. Japan (191 destinations)

2. Singapore (190 destinations)

3. South Korea, Germany (189 destinations)

4. Italy, Finland (188 destinations)

5. Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark (187 destinations)

6. Sweden, France (186 destinations)

7. Switzerland, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria (185 destinations)

8. United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Greece, Belgium (184 destinations)

9. New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic, Canada, Australia (183 destinations)

10. Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary (181 destinations)

The index delivers some bad news for those holding passports to the United States or the United Kingdom, with the number of countries allowing easy access for their passport holders steadily decreasing.

They've dropped from joint first place in 2015 to eighth in 2020.

Dr. Parag Khanna, bestselling author and expert in world migration says the movement of people plays an important role in driving the world economy.

"Migration, as with almost everything else, is a function of supply and demand — and, increasingly, it is accepted that more migration creates more demand, stimulating much needed economic growth," Khanna said. 

At the other end of the list is Afghanistan. Its passport allows for easy access to just 26 countries.

Countries affected by continued conflict have dropped significantly on the list over the past decade.

Syria has dropped 18 places since 2010, while Yemen has dropped 15 spots in the same period. 

The worst passports to hold:

100. North Korea, Sudan (39 destinations)

101. Nepal, Palestinian Territory (38 destinations)

102. Libya (37 destinations)

103. Yemen (33 destinations)

104. Somalia, Pakistan (32 destinations)

105. Syria (29 destinations)

106. Iraq (28 destinations)

107. Afghanistan (26 destinations)

Middle Eastern countries have risen up the list since last year, with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia both moving up four places. 

The UAE now sits in 18th place, while Saudi Arabia is in 66th place.