SINGAPORE: The Singapore passport is no longer the world's most powerful, at least for the time being, after being overtaken by Japan.
Japan's top spot on the 2018 Henley Index – which ranks countries according to how many destinations its passport allows visa-free access to – comes courtesy of the country gaining visa-free access to Myanmar this month.
Japan passport holders now enjoy visa-free access to 190 destinations, compared with Singapore's 189, said a statement from global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, which compiles the index.
The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association. The two Asian countries have been neck and neck on it in recent months. They tied for top spot in February after gaining visa-exemption from Uzbekistan, pushing former top-spot holder Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.
Now, Germany has fallen to 3rd place, tied with South Korea and France with 188 visa-free destinations.
Former top spot holders the United States and the United Kingdom, who tied for No. 1 in 2015, are now at No. 5 after sliding down one spot.
Henley's statement described the two countries' "stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers" – with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018 – as the reason "it seems increasingly unlikely" they will scale the heights to be in the top spot again.
At the other end of the index, Iraq and Afghanistan are at the bottom (No. 106) with just 30 destinations.
Notable gainers in recent years are the United Arab Emirates, which rose from No. 62 in 2006 to No. 21 currently – the most powerful passport in the Middle East – and China, which rose by 14 places since the beginning of 2017.
The countries in the top ten positions of the 2018 Henley Passport index are:
1. Japan (190 countries)
2. Singapore (189)
3. Germany, France, South Korea (188)
4. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Italy (187)
5. United Kingdom, United States, Austria, Portugal, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway (186)
6. Canada, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland (185)
7. Greece, Malta, Australia (183)
8. New Zealand, Czech Republic (182)
9. Iceland (181)
10. Malaysia, Hungary, Slovenia (180)