S’pore Passport Ranked No. 2 In The World By Henley Passport Index, Only Japan Is Above Us

Most Singaporeans who’re based here haven’t travelled for more than a year now thanks to Covid-19.

As our passports gather dust at home, will it come as cold comfort to know that they ‘re still the 2nd-most powerful passport in the world?

Most would be incredulous to hear that, considering we’ve not been able to travel as freely as we used to.

However, the picture becomes clearer that we realise that the latest ranking for 2021 doesn’t take into account Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Index ranks passports by visa-free travel

The Henley Passport Index is produced by advisory firm Henley & Partners.

It ranks passports according to how “powerful” they are, i.e. how many destinations holders of the passports can travel to without needing to apply for a visa first.

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The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) database of travel information.

It includes 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

Singapore ranked No. 2 for 2nd-straight year

Singapore, you might have heard, has been doing very well in the last few years.

We stay at No. 2 this year, having also been No. 2 in 2020. Singapore passport holders can go to 192 destinations without a visa.

In fact, in the last 4 years, we’ve not gone below 2nd place.

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In 2019, we even cracked the top spot. However, that year we had to share it with Japan.

Unsurprisingly, for the last 2 years it’s been our fellow Asian country that has beaten us for most powerful passport in the world.

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Japan passport holders can currently visit 193 destinations without a visa – just 1 more than us.

Only 3 Asian countries in top 10

Though Singapore and Japan have hogged the top 2 spots for years, traditionally it’s been the European countries doing well in this race.

Besides Singapore, Japan and South Korea in 3rd place, the rest of the top 10 is made up of countries from Europe.

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The next-highest Asian country is Malaysia, which is ranked No. 12 together with Liechtenstein.

The United States is among 5 countries tied for 7th place.

Right at the bottom is Afghanistan at No. 110. Holders of that passport may only travel visa-free to 26 places.

What’s the point of this ranking?

However, in the age of Covid-19, this ranking may seem a bit meaningless.

After all, almost all countries now have temporary travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Depending on the country, even if we don’t need a visa, Singaporeans will probably be allowed to enter for certain reasons only.

A quarantine period is also very likely to be imposed.

Index looks at travel patterns in the ‘new normal’

The index acknowledges the restlessness of the world by saying,

Humanity is aching to get moving again.

But it also chooses to look on the bright side, saying that as people continue to get vaccinated all over the world, more might start travelling later this year.

Since then, we’ve all had lots of time to decide where we want to go, and how to navigate the new travel rules like vaccine passports.

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Thus, the ranking will provide a clue to how travel patterns will be like in this “new normal”.

Some hope that passports may be used again

While we can’t travel much yet, there’s some hope over the horizon.

Talks on the much-delayed Hong Kong travel bubble are being finalised, while a Safe Corridor for Singaporeans to visit Batam and Bintan was proposed to start this month.

Worse to worse, there’s also a possibility that day trips to Johor Baru might be on the table again, as Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin visits Singapore in May to discuss border reopening.

So remember where you last put your passport – the 2nd-most powerful travel document in the world might just see some activity again soon.

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Featured image from MS News.