Collecting and owning a passport has become a status symbol for the super-rich, or those who simply love to travel to different parts of the world. And this makes some people effective “citizens” of the world while some are not. However, some passports are sought more than others. It is not just the color of the cover or the number of pages inside a passport that differentiate the document in each country. Some passports are just more powerful than others.
Whether the citizens are capable of flashing their passports and breeze past customs or if it’s easy to get a visa upon arrival, every single country’s passport has got its own set of rules and regulations.
If you are looking for convenience and ease of travel, then you can’t do better than a Singaporean passport. This is because Singapore has been listed as the country with the most powerful passport in the world in a new report by Global Passport Power Rank compiled by global financial advisory firm, Arton Capital.
Singapore citizens can access the greatest number of countries without a visa, or can obtain a visa upon arrival. Amazingly, it is the first time an Asian nation has emerged on the top of the list. It is a testament of Singapore’s inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy. Historically, the top most powerful passports in the world have been mostly European, with Germany maintaining the lead for the past two years. But since early 2017, the top most position has been tied with Singapore until recently when Singapore took the lead.
The global financial advisory firm ranked all the passports of the world by their “total visa-free score,” where a point is awarded for each country that their holders can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or using electronic travel authorization. Singapore garnered a score of 159, meaning holders of a Singaporean passport can now easily visit 159 countries, either visa-free or by obtaining a visa upon arrival.
Thanks to a recent decision by Paraguay to remove its visa requirements for passport holders of the Asian city- state. This has ensured easy access to 159 countries by the Singaporean citizens, compared to 158 for German passport-holders. A Singaporean passport holder can now show up in Paraguay, get a stamp upon arrival, and stay legally in the country for 30 days without any application process, according to the Paraguay consulate in Washington, D.C. Sweden and South Korea tied at the third position.
“While Singapore has quietly climbed the ranks, the U.S passport ranking has fallen down since President Donald Trump took office,” Arton Capital said in a statement. Most recently, the U.S. and Turkey have become involved in a diplomatic dispute that has led to the suspension of visas. The United States got a score of 154 and it is now in the sixth tier, beaten by countries such as Germany, Sweden, South Korea, Denmark and France. Meanwhile, the lowest mobile passport in the world is Afghanistan, with a score of 22, followed by Pakistan and Iraq at 26. Countries like Singapore are likely to have even stronger passports in the future, too, according to Philippe May, the managing director of Arton’s Singapore office.
“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” are the most likely to improve, he told CNN. However, there are several major events recently other than the election of U.S President trump, that are likely to greatly impact on global mobility- including Brexit. All these can be interpreted as steps towards inhibiting movements and creating barriers to access to some countries.
This trend towards curbing travel freedom is already apparent in the shift in the latest ranking. However, there is still a huge disparity in the levels of freedom of travel between countries, despite the world becoming apparently more mobile and interdependent. This is because, visa requirements are a reflection of a country’s relationship with other countries, taking into account the diplomatic relationships between countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the dangers of visa and immigration regulation violations. In conclusion, despite the fact that Singapore residents are able of claiming their titles as owners of the most powerful passports in the world, the ranking is just temporary.
Given the several factors affecting the shift, we can’t predict how long Singapore is going to stay on the lead, but it deserves a round of applause anyway. Is U.S losing its power?
Should we expect greater travel freedom in the future?