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Japan and Singapore have world’s most powerful passports

Asian countries dominate when it comes to visa-free travel

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 02 October 2019 08:16 BST
Japan and Singapore have world’s most powerful passports

Singapore and Japan have topped a ranking of the world’s strongest passports.

The two Asian countries both offer access to 190 destinations without needing a visa in advance.

Compiled by residence and citizenship planning company Henley & Partners, the Henley Passport Index ranks all the world’s passports based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the firm’s research department.

The quarterly index primarily rates travel documents based on how many countries they allow access too, either visa-free or by only needing to get a visa on arrival (rather than in advance).

With a score of 188, Finland, Germany, and South Korea remain in second place; while Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg are in third place, with citizens now able to access 187 destinations worldwide without requiring a visa in advance.

The UK takes joint sixth place with the US – the lowest position either country has held since 2010 – with a score of 184.

One of the most dramatic shifts has been the UAE’s position in the rankings; the Middle Eastern nation has climbed five places since last quarter and 46 places over the past decade, thanks to recently gaining access to a slew of African countries, including South Africa. It now sits in 15th place with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 172.

Former Soviet states have also vastly improved over the last decade: Ukraine and Moldova have both climbed 19 places, while Georgia has jumped 16.

Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the ranking, in 107th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 25, followed by Iraq (27) and Syria (29).

The index is about more than just hassle-free travel, according to Henley & Partners.

“Our ongoing research has shown that when we talk about ‘passport power’, we are discussing more than simply the destinations a holder can travel to without acquiring a visa in advance,” said Dr Christian H Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index.

“Often, there is a strong correlation between visa freedom and other benefits such as business and investment freedom, independence of the judiciary, fiscal health, and property rights.”

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World's most powerful passports

1. Singapore

1. Japan

2. Finland

2. Germany

2. South Korea

3. Denmark

3. Italy

3. Luxembourg

4. France

4. Sweden

4. Spain

5. Austria

5. Netherlands

5. Portugal

Least powerful passports

107. Afghanistan

106. Iraq

105. Syria

104. Somalia

104. Pakistan

103. Yemen

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