Japan has the world's most powerful passport, with its citizens able to enter 190 countries without requiring a visa, according to the new 2019 Passport Index.
Citizenship and planning firm Henley & Partners' annual list ranks the world's best passports based on the number of countries they allow holders to enter visa-free or get one on arrival. The list is based on data from the International Air Transport Association.
Australia has lost ground, dropping from 183 countries to 181. It came 10th in the rankings, along with New Zealand and Iceland, behind 24 other countries.
Turkey's introduction of e-visas in October was one factor affecting the rankings, with citizens of more than 100 countries, including Australia, now required to apply for a visa before travelling there. Previously a visa was available upon arrival.
The Ukraine suspended visas-on-arrival on January 1. Australians are now required to apply for an e-visa to enter the country.
Australia wasn't the only country to experience a fall: the UK and US have been dropping in the rankings since 2015, when they were equal first. Both now sit in sixth spot, with access to 185 countries visa-free.
Australians were warned recently the US would no longer offer immediate approvals for its Electronic System for Travel Authorisation visa-waiver, meaning travellers who fail to apply at least four days in advance may be refused boarding for flights.
Behind Japan at the top of the list are Singapore and South Korea. The latter hits a new high this year following a recent visa-on-arrival agreement with India.
Overall, freedom of movement around the world has increased greatly over the past 12 years. Data from the index shows that a traveller in 2006 could, on average, visit just 58 countries without requiring a visa. By the end of last year this average had increased to 107.
Christian Kalin, group chairman of Henley & Partners and creator of the index, said despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, many countries remain committed to collaboration.
"The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world. South Korea and the United Arab Emirates' recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community," he said.
The UAE has climbed the most in the rankings over the past 10 years, from 61st place in 2009 to 22nd this year.
It is the strongest individual climber over the past decade, from 61st place in 2009, and now has access to 164 countries. China has also been climbing rapidly, with visa-free access for its passport-holders rising from 51 countries in 2017 to 74 now.
The rankings also reveal the worst passports on which to travel. Many are countries affected by war, with Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan all experiencing significant declines in recent years.
The world's most powerful passports for 2019
- Japan 190 countries visa-free
- Singapore, South Korea 189
- France, Germany 188
- Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden 187
- Luxembourg, Spain 186
- Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States 185
- Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland 184
- Czech Republic 183
- Malta 182
- Australia, Iceland, New Zealand 181
- Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia 180
- Estonia, Malaysia 179
- Liechtenstein 178
- Chile 175
- Monaco, Poland 174
- Cyprus 173
- Brazil 171
- Argentina 170
- Bulgaria, Hong Kong (SAR China), Romania 169
- Andorra, Croatia, San Marino 168
The world's 10 worst passports for 2019
- Afghanistan, Iraq 30 countries visa-free
- Somalia, Syria 32
- Pakistan 33
- Yemen 37
- Eritrea 38
- Palestinian Territory, Sudan 39
- Nepal 40