Indian passport holders can now travel to 57 countries visa-free after India bumped up by seven ranks in the Henley Passport Index 2023.
Largely based on data from the Air Transport Association (ATA), the index globally ranks countries according to the travel freedom their ordinary passports allow for their citizens. In the 2023 index, India ranked 80, along with Senegal and Togo. Last year, the country stood at rank 87. On top of the list is Singapore, the strongest passport in the world now, providing visa-free travel access to a total of 192 countries. For the last five years, Japan dominated the rankings but now fell to third place alongside Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea and Sweden.
Around 10 years ago, both the UK and the US ranked on top of the lists but have slipped in ranks since – with the US plummeting a further two places to the eighth spot with access to 184 destinations visa-free. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the list, the weakest passport in the world allowing access to just 27 countries.
Indian passport holders can get visa-free access to countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Qatar and Tunisia. They can get visa-on-arrival to countries like Zimbabwe, Senegal, Thailand and Cambodia. Of the total 57 countries, Indians require visa-on arrival at 31 destinations, the report says. The most number of countries in this list are in Africa. Ironically, no European and North American countries offer visa-free entry to an Indian passport – despite those being among the most-preferred travel destinations for Indians.
In the almost 20 years since the rankings were first introduced, there has been a significant improvement towards greater freedom of travel. According to a statement by Henley and Partners, more countries have successfully secured greater travel freedom for their citizens. The number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free nearly doubled from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. Despite these advancements, the gap in global mobility between the highest and lowest-ranking countries is now wider than it has ever been. For instance, Singapore, at the top of the index, can access a remarkable 165 more destinations visa-free compared to Afghanistan, which is at the bottom of the list. This highlights the disparity in travel privileges between different nations in the modern world.
Henley has also come up with an openness index that ranks countries based on how easy it is for international travellers to visit them without a visa. Among the countries, India, along with Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea, holds the second-to-last spot, as they provide visa-free arrival to passport holders from only four countries. Bhutan, Maldives, and Nepal citizens are allowed to enter India for 90 days without presenting a visa. They can arrive visa-free from any other country in the world except mainland China. At the very bottom of the list are Afghanistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, and Turkmenistan, which score zero for not offering any visa-free access to travellers from any country.