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Jul 18, 2023, 4:14pm EDT
Southeast Asia

Japan’s passport is no longer the world’s most powerful

A view of Reflections at Keppel Bay condominium project in Singapore July 6, 2023.
REUTERS/Edgar Su
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The News

Singaporeans now hold the most powerful passport in the world.

The country placed No. 1 on the latest Henley Passport Index, an annual list published by immigration consultancy firm Henley & Partners that ranks countries based on how many places its citizens can visit without needing a visa.

Japan previously held the top spot, falling this year to a tie for third place. Singapore ascended to first, with its citizens able to visit 192 countries visa-free. Germany, Spain, and Italy tied for second.

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We’ve compiled insights and reporting about Singapore’s ascent to the top and the U.S’s “relentless slide” down the rankings.

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Insights

  • Singapore also ranks relatively high on Henley’s Openness Index, which ranks the number of nationalities a country welcomes without a visa. As it’s opened up to more nationalities over the years, its own citizens have been able to visit more places freely, Henley analysts note. Other countries, meanwhile, have remained stagnant on both fronts.
  • Speaking of stagnation, the No. 8-ranked U.S. has seen the smallest increase in its score over the past decade, compared to other countries in the top 10. It’s been surpassed by South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. “By more or less standing still, the US has fallen behind,” Greg Lindsay at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute said in the press release announcing the rankings. “America’s relentless slide down the rankings ... is a warning to its neighbor Canada and the rest of the Anglosphere as well.”
  • Henley’s isn’t the only passport ranking out there. Arton Capital has a real-time index that uses a slightly more complex methodology. The United Arab Emirates, which has made strides in securing more visa-free destinations for its citizens over the last decade, sits atop that list.
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