The world's most powerful passports for 2020 named: Visa free access

Japan maintained its place at the top of the list in the world's most powerful passports for 2020, with its citizens enjoying access to 191 countries without requiring a visa in advance.

The Henley Passport Index for 2020 ranked the world's top passports based on the number of countries the passport allowed holders to access visa-free or where they could obtain a visa on arrival.

Australia climbed one place in the rankings, from equal 10th to equal 9th, after the number of countries we can visit without a visa increased from 181 to 183 in the past year. There were 21 countries that had access to more countries than Australia visa-free.

Singapore came second in the rankings with 190 countries, while South Korea and Germany came equal third with 189.

Australia's improved ranking came after Brazil scrapped visas for Australians in June 2019, while Sri Lanka, aiming to bring back tourists after April's devastating terrorist bombings, introduced a free electronic travel authorisation (ETA) in August (though fees for the ETA are set to return at the end of January).

Chile also recently suspended its $170 entry fee for Australian travellers.

Australia shared its ranking with New Zealand, Canada, the Czech Republic and Malta.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the original creator of the passport index, said the latest rankings showed how the world was changing.

"Asian countries' dominance of the top spots is a clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies and the introduction of mutually-beneficial trade agreements.

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"Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life.

"The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it."

Middle Eastern countries were the biggest improvers for 2020, with the United Arab Emirates climbing four places to equal 18th in the rankings, with access to 171 countries. The UAE has climbed 47 places over the past 10 years.

Saudi Arabia also climbed four places to 66th place, with access to 77 countries. Saudi Arabia recently opened itself up to tourists and has been heavily promoting itself as a destination - with the help of celebrities and influencers, who have been criticised for supporting the country's regime due to its record of human rights abuses.

The rankings also named the countries with the worst passports, with Afghanistan continuing to languish at the bottom of the table, its citizens only able to visit 26 countries without a visa.

The most powerful passports for 2020

1. Japan (191 destinations)

2. Singapore (190)

3. South Korea, Germany (189)

4. Italy, Finland (188)

5. Spain, Luxembourg, Denmark (187)

6. Sweden, France (186)

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

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

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

10. Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary (181)

The world's worst passports

100. North Korea, Sudan (39 destinations)

101. Nepal, Palestinian Territory (38)

102. Libya (37)

103. Yemen (33)

104. Somalia, Pakistan (32)

105. Syria (29)

106. Iraq (28)

107. Afghanistan (26)

See also: 10 countries making it easier for Australians to visit

See also: How a mistake got me banned from the US for life

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