MANILA, Philippines – Ever dreamed about being going to almost every country you please without having to worry about visa requirements and the dreaded visa fee?
For Japanese citizens, flying to virtually anywhere hassle free isn’t just a dream – it’s a reality. Japan, according to the 2018 Henley Passport Index, is the world’s “strongest” passport, meaning Japanese passport holders enjoy the most visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to the most destinations at 190. Trailing not too far behind is another Asian country, Singapore, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations.
France, Germany, and South Korea follow at third with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 188 destinations.
According to its website, Henley Passport Index ranks all passports in the world based on the number of countries its holders can visit visa-free. “The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of travel information, and is enhanced by extensive in-house research,” it said.
The rest of the 10 strongest passports include countries in Europe, plus Malaysia. The United States and United Kingdom are both ranked 5th with access to 186 destinations.
But where’s our very own Philippines? We’re ranked at 75th alongside Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, and Tunisia – meaning we have access only to 66 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. Frequent Filipino travelers won’t find this surprising and are surely all too familiar with the hassle and uncertainty of applying for a visa to visit foreign countries.
Rappler file photo
In Southeast Asia, it’s Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei that have the strongest passports and are all in the Top 20 globally.
Henley highlighted at least two countries that didn’t rank high but saw tremendous leaps in rankings through the years – China and the UAE. While Chinese nationals got access to two new areas visa-free or visa-on-arrival, it still slide down tow places to just 71st. “This is still an impressive 14-place improvement over the position that China held at the start of 2017,” noted the site.
The UAE, meanwhile, is now the strongest in the Middle East, jumping from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st in the 2018 index.
What’s the point of the ranking, you may ask? The Henley index helps people “discover how to maximize your travel freedom through citizenship-by-investment.”
“Along with the Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, the Henley Passport Index is considered the most credible reference tool within the investment migration industry,” it said. – Rappler.com