THE Irish passport has been ranked the fourth most powerful in the world.
It moves up two spots in the annual Henley Passport Index, which was released this week for 2023.
In 2022 Ireland placed sixth in the list, which measures how much freedom citizens have to visit other countries on their respective passports.
This year, Ireland came joint fourth best in the world with Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.
Figures collated by Henley & Partners for their annual index shows that Irish passport holders can currently access a total of 188 countries out of 227 without needing a visa.
Taking first place in the index is Singapore, which has knocked Japan off the top spot, bumping it into third place.
Citizens of Singapore can visit 192 travel destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free.
Second place in the 2023 list is jointly taken by Spain, Germany and Italy, with visa-free access to 190 destinations.
Japanese passport holders now join those of six other nations — Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden — in third place with access to 189 destinations without a prior visa.
Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the annual index, with a visa-free access score of just 27, followed by Iraq with a score of 29, and Syria with a score of 30, making them the three weakest passports in the world.
The general trend over the history of the 18-year-old Henley ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, with the average number of destinations travellers are able to access visa-free nearly doubling from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023.
However, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than it has ever been, with top-ranked Singapore able to access 165 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan.
Dr Christian H Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, and the inventor of the passport index concept, says only eight countries worldwide have less visa-free access today than they did a decade ago while others have been more successful in securing greater travel freedom for their citizens.
“The UAE has added an impressive 107 destinations to its visa-free score since 2013, resulting in a massive leap of 44 places in the ranking over the past 10 years from 56th to 12th position,” he said.
“This is almost double the next biggest climber, Colombia, which has enjoyed a jump of 28 places in the ranking to sit in 37th spot.
“Ukraine and China are also among the Top 10 countries with the most improved rankings over the past decade.”
He added: “Far more than just a travel document that defines our freedom of movement, a strong passport also provides significant financial freedoms in terms of international investment and business opportunities.
“Global connectivity and access have become indispensable features of wealth creation and preservation, and its value will only grow as geopolitical volatility and regional instability increase.”
Ireland’s Tánaiste, Micheál Martin has welcomed the 2023 ranking.
“Very proud to see the Irish passport rise in the rankings from 6th to 4th in the latest Henley Passport Index rankings,” he said.
“This demonstrates again the value and power of the Irish passport and how well it is regarded internationally.”