Singapore has lost its top spot in an index which ranks passport power and global mobility.
The Republic now sits in second place, offering its passport holders visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, according to the latest Henley Passport Index released on Tuesday night.
The index is compiled by Henley & Partners, a London-headquartered citizenship and residence advisory firm, based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association.
Japan remains the world’s most powerful passport for the third consecutive year, with a score of 191. The East Asian nation, which previously tied with Singapore for the No 1 spot, pulled ahead of the Republic because it retained access to the South American country of Suriname, which Singapore did not.
Previously, citizens of several countries including Singapore could apply for a tourist card on arrival in Suriname, but this policy was terminated on Oct 15, 2019, which meant Singapore passport holders must now apply for the tourist card online prior to their visits, Henley & Partners said on Jan 10. However, Japan was not affected by this ruling as it already had visa exemptions in place with Suriname, allowing Japanese passport holders to enter the country without a tourist card.
Coming in third on the index are Germany and South Korea, with the latter slipping another spot in the ranking. Both countries’ passport holders can access a total of 189 destinations without a prior visa.
Meanwhile, the US and the UK continued their downward trajectory on the index, falling to a shared eighth place – a significant decline from 2015 when they were both the world’s most powerful passports, Henley & Partners said in its press statement on Tuesday.
Also in the top 10 are Finland and Italy both ranking fourth with a score of 188, while Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain together hold the fifth position with a score of 187.
Still at the bottom of the index is Afghanistan, with its citizens only able to visit 26 destinations without a prior visa.
Dominic Volek, head of South-east Asia and managing partner at Henley & Partners, said: “The benefits of open-door policies and mutually beneficial trade agreements can no longer be denied.”
“Based on our ongoing research, countries that embrace this new reality of global mobility are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and travel freedom, as well as the array of benefits that come with it,” Mr Volek added.
The latest results of the Henley Passport Index also indicate a growing divide in travel freedom, with Japanese passport holders able to access 165 more destinations around the world than Afghan nationals, Henley & Partners noted.
“This extraordinary global mobility gap is the starkest it has been since the index’s inception in 2006,” the firm added.
Amendment note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Singapore did not obtain access to Saudi Arabia. The country that Singapore lost access to was actually Suriname, and Singapore does have visa-on-arrival access to Saudi Arabia. The article has been amended to reflect this.