Navigating the World: Singapore Emerges as World’s Most Powerful Passport

Navigating the World: Singapore Emerges as World’s Most Powerful Passport

Singapore now has the most powerful passport in the world after beating Japan in terms of ease of access to other countries for travelers, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Henley Passport Index, which uses data from IATA, ranks 199 passports around the world. The index is updated in real time throughout the year to reflect any changes in visa policies.

Before Singapore took over, Japan had held the title for five consecutive years. In the Henley Passport Index, Singapore topped the rankings based on the number of visa-free destinations, with a total of 227 destinations.

Singapore has become an attractive destination for high net worth individuals, especially in the wake of China's crackdown on private companies and rising geopolitical tensions. 

According to Cristian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, Singapore has worked hard over the past decade to gain greater travel freedom for its citizens. Singapore has gained visa-free access to 25 new destinations.

Meanwhile, the United States saw a decade-long decline in passporting power, adding only 12 visa-free destinations between 2013 and 2023. Singapore, on the other hand, increased its score by 25 points, making it the leader over the past decade.

The global mobility gap is widening. Singapore, as the leader, has visa-free access to 192 global destinations, or 165 more destinations than Afghanistan, which ranked last in the index. India, with the world's largest population, ranks 80th with visa-free access to 57 destinations. This further underscores the mobility divide and its implications for the future of travel.

On the other hand, global travel freedom has increased over the past 18 years, according to the Henley Passport Index. The average number of visa-free destinations has nearly doubled, from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, has seen its ranking jump by 44 in the last decade, with 107 visa-free destinations added since 2013.

For additional information, the index itself is used as a measure that evaluates global travel freedom based on the extent to which citizens can enjoy visa-free and visa-on-demand access to different countries around the world.

Most of the top 20 countries in terms of openness are small island states and African countries, with the exception of Cambodia. There are 12 countries that offer visa-free access for all passports, while four countries do not offer visa-free access at all. While the relationship between the level of openness and visa-free access is not always linear or direct, it is worth noting that Singapore and South Korea, which have been at the top of the rankings for the past decade, have relatively high levels of openness. 

However, there are five countries with the greatest discrepancy between the freedom of travel they enjoy and the visa-free access they grant to foreign nationals. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have seen their rankings fall or stagnate as a result of their limited openness.

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