There are few things more liberating than travel — although some passports offer more freedom than others. A new report published in February 2018, reveals just how many borders some travel documents can cross. There are, it says, just two countries whose citizens enjoy visa-free access to a whopping 180 destinations around the world, and they’re both in Asia.
Japan and Singapore are now the world’s most powerful passports, according to the Henley Passport Index, compiled by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners. They’ve successfully knocked Germany off the top spot, with its visa-free access to 179 destinations.
It’s due in part to Uzbekistan lifting visa requirements for Japanese and Singaporean nationals in early February. Last year, Paraguay also removed visa requirements for Singaporean passport holders.
The rise in the index of wealthy Asian states is long overdue, argues Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore.
“These two states in particular are identified as peaceful commercial powers, with their citizens interested primarily in business and investment activities,” says Khanna in a statement.
Henley Passport Index power ranking
- Japan, Singapore: 180
- Germany: 179
- Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, South Korea: 178
- Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal: 177
- Switzerland, Ireland, United States, Canada: 176
- Belgium, Australia, Greece: 174
- New Zealand, Czech Republic, Malta: 173
- Iceland: 172
- Hungary: 171
- Latvia: 170
So which passports offer the least mobility?
Last place on the updated Henley Passport Index list is Afghanistan, which has a score of 24, followed by Iraq (27), Syria (28), Pakistan (30) and Somalia (32).
Henley & Partner’s list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories — ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2017 index, released in October, put Singapore on top, with a score of 159, followed by Germany (158), Sweden and South Korea (157) and, in fourth place, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Japan and the United Kingdom (156).