Not all passports are created equal, and for the first time in history, an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world.
Singapore elbowed past Germany to take the top spot in this year’s Global Passport Index, thanks to a recent decision by Paraguay to remove visa requirements for citizens of the city-state. Singapore had previously tied with Germany with a passport score of 158, but this year bested the European nation by one. Holders of a Singaporean passport can now easily visit 159 countries, either visa-free or by securing a visa on arrival.
The Passport Index is an interactive online tool developed by international residence and citizenship advisory firm Arton Capital. The index ranks the world’s most powerful passports by analysing cross-border access and assigning a ‘visa-free score’ based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit without a visa or with a visa acquired on arrival.
Philippe May, managing director of Arton Capital’s Singapore office, told CNN, “Singapore has constantly increased its passport strength since it became independent in 1965. This due to a smart and far-sighted foreign policy, excellent diplomacy and by understanding globalization as an opportunity.”
May added that Singapore, unlike Schengen member countries in Europe, does not share a common travel zone with other countries. It is therefore not locked into visa restrictions decided by other nations, leaving it entirely responsible for its own decisions about who to grant visa-free access.
Plenty of European countries still made the list – including Germany holding strong at #2 – along with several more in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Meanwhile the US passport has fallen in favour since Trump took office, but its ranking at #6 still puts it leagues ahead of the passports with the least mobility: Somalia (34), Syria (29), Pakistan and Iraq (26), and Afghanistan (22).
May told CNN he expects two sets of independent nations to continue improving their passport strength going forward: “Small nations who are no threat to anyone as well as smart and open-minded nations, especially when there is a strong rule of law.”
View the new Passport Index power ranking in the gallery above. Should you need to leave the country and assume a new identity, you now know which passport to ask the forger for.