S'pore passport remains 2nd most powerful in the world, behind Japan's

Singapore remains in second place with access to 192 destinations, behind Japan's 193. PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Japan continues to outstrip Singapore as the world's most powerful passport in a new update to a global index.

It noted that Japanese passport holders can travel without a prior visa to a record 193 destinations, up from 191 in the first quarter of this year.

Singapore remains in second place with access to 192 destinations, compared with 190 places reported in January.

Both Singapore and Japan gained access to Oman and Iraq this quarter.

South Korea and Germany remain in third with 191 destinations.

The index by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners ranks passport power according to how many destinations their holders can travel to without a prior visa and is updated throughout the year.

While it does not account for temporary Covid-19 travel restrictions, it indicates what post-pandemic travel freedom might look like as countries selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors, Henley & Partners said.

The first-place tie shared by Japan and Singapore in 2019 was broken last year when Japan gained easier access to Saudi Arabia.

Henley & Partners also noted that the gap in travel freedom is at its widest since the index began in 2006, with Japanese passport holders able to visit 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who can travel to only 26 nations worldwide without acquiring a visa in advance.

Britain and the United States continue to face eroding passport strength since they held the top spot in 2014 and are now at seventh place with a score of 187.

While there has been very little movement in the index over the past five quarters since the outbreak of Covid-19, China became one of the biggest climbers for the first time in the past decade in the latest update.

It has risen from 90th position with a score of 40 in 2011 to 68th place and a score of 77.

Henley & Partners chairman Christian Kaelin said: "While nobody expects a return to pre-pandemic mobility levels anytime soon, the outlook now is certainly more hopeful than it was even a few months ago."

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