Acquiring an alternative passport has been popularised by the multi-billion dollar “citizenship by investment” industry.Image Credit: Istockphoto

Dubai: There are passports that let travellers breeze past immigration desks and there are those that cause delays. The summer travel season is just around the corner and you may be wondering who gets to move freely around the world.

According to the latest rankings released on Tuesday, the Japanese passport is now the most powerful, offering citizens ease of travel to 189 countries, up from 180 early this year.

The Asian country has just knocked its peer, Singapore, off the top spot in the latest global ranking of the world’s most powerful passport by citizenship-planning firm Henley & Partners.

Singapore jointly held the “most powerful passport” title with Japan only last January. It has slipped to the second place, which it now holds jointly with Germany, which for five years in a row had been ranked as having the world’s strongest travel document.

European countries continue to dominate the passport power rankings, but they are increasingly being challenged by their Asian counterparts, with a total of four countries from Asia now occupying the top ten spots. The South Korean passport is now ranked third most powerful, along with Finland, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain, while Malaysia holds the ninth place, along with Hungary and Slovenia.

The Philippine passport is ranked in the 70th place, now offering citizens easy access to 66 countries, followed by the Indian travel document in the 76th position, now offering holders ease of travel to 59 destinations.

Travellers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan enjoy travel freedom when visiting 42, 41, 40 and 33 countries, respectively.

Henley & Partner’s passport index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association. It is updated in real-time, as and when visa-policy changes into effect. The firm ranks the passports based on the number of destinations holders are able to travel to without securing a visa prior to arrival.

At time of writing, here’s the list of the most powerful passports ranked by Henley & Partners:

Top 10 passports:

1.Japan: 189 destinations

Kyoto, Japan

2.Germany and Singapore: 188 destinations

3. Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, South Korea: 187 destinations

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4.Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, United States: 186 destinations

5.Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada: 185 destinations

6.Australia and Greece: 183 destinations

Sydney, Australia

7.New Zealand, Czech Republic, Malta: 182 destinations

8. Iceland: 181 destinations

9.Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia: 180 destinations

10. Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania: 179 destinations

How other Asian passports rank:

China: 70 countries (68th place)

Philippines: 66 countries (70th place)

India: 59 countries (76th)

Sri Lanka: 42 countries (93rd place)

Bangladesh: 41 (94th place)

Nepal: 40 (95th place)

Pakistan: 33 (98th place)