Japanese Passport Tops 2018 Visa-Free Travel Index

Japan has the strongest passport in the world according to new Henley & Partners ranking

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.

Japan overtook Singapore on the list, whose citizens can travel to 189 destinations without a prior visa, after Japanese travelers gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier in 2018.

South Africa dropped another two rungs in the latest Henley Passport Index published on Tuesday.

China moved up 14 places from last year to No. 71 this year after the countries it has visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to increased from 51 to 74.

South Korea gained visa-free access to Myanmar on October 1, while Paraguay removed visa requirements for Singaporean passport holders in 2017.

With neither having gained entry to any new jurisdictions this year, it seems unlikely that either will soon reclaim the No.1 spot they held in 2015.

However, South Africa still ranks 3rd in Africa, after the Seychelles (25th strongest passport in the world, with 152 destinations) and Mauritius (31st strongest passport in the world, with 146 destinations).

Most recently, and strengthening its position as the passport-power champion of the Middle East, the UAE signed a visa-waiver with Russian Federation in July, which is due to come into effect in the coming months.

It is updated regularly to reflect changes in the number of visa-waiver agreements signed between countries.

Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of the index, said countries with citizenship-by-investment, or CBI, programs all fall within the top 50 of the index.

The UAE, meanwhile, is now the strongest in the Middle East, jumping from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st in the 2018 index.

Looking ahead, the most dramatic climb on the Henley Passport Index might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.

What's a passport for if you can't lord it over other countries as a physical statement of superiority?

Iraq and Afghanistan continue to sit at the bottom of the Index. Newcomer Moldova, for example, which launched its CBI program in the second half of this year, has climbed 20 places since 2008.

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