Straits Times: Singapore passport now world's 'most powerful'

With Paraguay removing visa requirements for Singaporeans, the Singapore passport is now the "most powerful" in the world, with a visa-free score of 159.

This marks the first time an Asian country has the most powerful passport, according to the index, which was developed by global advisory firm Arton Capital.

"It is a testament of Singapore's inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy," managing director of Arton Capital's Singapore office Philippe May said of the development.

The index ranks national passports by the cross-border access they bring, assigning a "visa-free score" based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free, or with a visa on arrival.

Passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories were considered.

Historically, the top 10 most powerful passports in the world tend to be European, with Germany in the lead for the past two years, according to a press statement issued yesterday.

Since early this year, Germany's No. 1 position had been shared with Singapore, which was steadily moving up the ranks.

Other Asian passports in the top 20 include those of South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

The United States passport has fallen in ranking since US President Donald Trump took office, according to the index. Most recently, Turkey and the Central African Republic revoked their visa-free status for US passport holders.

"Visa-free global mobility has become an important factor in today's world," founder and president of Arton Capital Armand Arton said at the recently held Global Citizen Forum in Montenegro.

"More and more people every year invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a second passport to offer better opportunity and security for their families," he added.

Singapore was also fourth this year in the Visa Restrictions Index, another ranking of travel freedom, which uses a different method of calculating how "powerful" a passport is. The index says that Singapore passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 173 countries.

Germany is No. 1 on this year's Visa Restrictions Index, which is published by Henley & Partners. It has visa-free access to 176 countries out of a possible 218, according to the index.