Singapore’s passport now ranks the world’s second most powerful, after Germany, in the 2018 Henley Passport Index released this week.
This is Singapore’s highest ranking on the index in 10 years, and the city remains the best-performing country in South-east Asia.
Germany – whose passport gives visa-free access to 177 countries – continues to take top spot for the fifth year running. Following in third position are the UK and Japan (175 countries).
Malaysia ranks second in the region, and 12th globally, with Malaysian nationals enjoying visa-free access to 166 countries.
Hong Kong, which moves up one place in the latest edition of the index to be ranked 21st globally, sees its passport holders enjoying visa-free access to 155 countries in total.
Meanwhile, China emerged as one of the three biggest climbers in the 2018 Henley Passport Index, moving 10 spots to 75th place.
Chinese passport holders gained visa-free access to 10 more countries since the last ranking, and are now able to enter 60 countries without a visa.
In terms of the biggest improvements in access, China ranks only after Georgia (up 15 spots to 53rd) and Ukraine (up 14 spots to 44th), which both completed the visa-liberalisation process with the EU in 2017 and gained access to 30 and 32 new countries respectively.
Notably, Indonesia moved up seven places and now ranks 72nd globally, having signed visa agreements with countries such as Qatar and St Kitts and Nevis in 2017.
Of the 199 countries featured on the index, 143 improved their rank over the past year and 41 maintained their positions. In terms of visa-free access, only seven countries saw their level of access reduce over the past year: Azerbaijan, Algeria, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, Laos, North Korea and Syria all lost visa-free access to a single country.
By contrast, 18 countries maintained their level of access year-on-year, and the remainder of countries (174 in total) saw an improvement in their level of access compared to 2017.
“Despite the world experiencing huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom between countries, and an growing tendency towards immigration-hostile policies, only a small minority of countries on the 2018 Henley Passport Index lost access,” observed Jennifer Lai, managing partner of Henley & Partners Hong Kong.
“These findings reflect the fact that, while certain countries are tightening their borders, others are in fact becoming more migrant-friendly, as they seek to tap into the immense economic value that migration can bring.”