SINGAPORE: Singapore's passport has reclaimed the top spot on the 2019 Henley Passport Index, alongside Japan and South Korea, residence and citizenship consultancy Henley & Partners announced in a press release on Thursday (Mar 28).
The latest edition of the rankings consolidate 12 months of Asian dominance, with the three Asian countries boasting visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations.
In October last year, Japan edged out Singapore, after being neck-and-neck since they both climbed to first place in February.
Last year's title-holder Germany has been pushed to second with a score of 188, following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan. Five other European countries share third place on the index: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy and Sweden.
The United Kingdom is at fifth place with a score of 185, while the United States slipped down to sixth, settling for a five-way tie with Belgium, Canada, Greece and Ireland.
The Malaysian passport remains the second most powerful passport in Southeast Asia, even as it dropped in rank from 12th last quarter to 13th with a score of 177.
As in previous years, Iraq and Afghanistan hold the bottom spot on the index, with only 30 destinations accessible to their citizens.
Henley & Partners managing partner Dominic Volek said: “A snapshot at the index’s top 20 today compared to what it was 20 years ago, tells an interesting story.
"European countries dominated the index then and were immovable ... but today’s top 20 has seen significant movements especially in the last several years. The European countries have been surely but steadily dropping down the ranks as Asian countries improve to take their place."
He added: “You only need to look at Singapore, between 2009 and 2019, to see it has improved by more than 30 score points to rise from eight place to joint first place."
Meanwhile, South Korea improved by nearly 40 points to rise from 13th place to joint first.
The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of all the passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free.
It is updated in real-time, as and when visa-policy changes come into effect, according to Henley and Partners.
The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association and in-house research.