Japan overtakes Singapore as world's most powerful passport

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2018

The ranking, by global citizenship advisory group Henley & Partners, measures the power of passports by the number of countries the holder can access either visa-free, or with a visa obtainable on arrival.

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier this month.

Criteria on the list include which countries you can access with which type of visa, how your passport has changed over the past 13 years, how it compares to other such passports, why it has the level of access that it does and which additional passports would improve your global movements. It was followed by France, Germany and South Korea whose passports enable visa-free entry to 188.

Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the United States complete the 5th spot with visa-free access to 186 destinations.

"Mauritius and the Seychelles both have very welcoming visa policies, and as a result of this openness, other countries reciprocate and make travel easier for Seychellois and Mauritian citizens". The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places, to 71st overall.

"The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative", says Dr. Kälin. This is still an impressive 14-place improvement over the position that China held at the start of 2017.

Iraq and Afghanistan share the position of the weakest passport in the world.

Last year, a ranking of passports by worldwide global financial advisory firm Arton Capital showed that the Philippine passport is moderately weak, with its holders having visa-free access to only 61 countries.

It's also recently signed a visa-waiver agreement with Russian Federation, due to come into effect in the coming months.

The UAE has made the most remarkable ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide now.

Many ranking spots are shared by multiple countries with access to the same number of destinations. Newcomer Moldova, due to launch its CBI program in November, climbed 20 places since 2008.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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