Some passports are better than others. To make comparisons easy, Arton Capital has created the Passport Index. The 2017 index ranks 199 passports based on the number of countries the holder can travel to with ease.
At the bottom is Afghanistan. Holders of this passport need a visa ahead of travelling for 89% of the countries on the list.
Topping the list is the Singaporean passport, which allows holders visa-free access – a definition including visas on arrival, and some electronic visas – to 159 (80%) of the 199 countries included.
Philippe May, Managing Director of Arton Capital’s Singapore office, said “For the first time ever an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world.”
The Swiss passport, nicknamed le croix blanche by francophone Swiss, ranks number five and gives easy access to 155 countries.
So what countries are Swiss missing out on?
A Singaporean can travel visa-free to eight countries that Swiss need a visa to enter. Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Ghana, Mongolia, Myanmar, Rwanda and Viet Nam are all visa free for Singaporean passport holders but not for Swiss. Switzerland offers visa-free access to citizens of none of these countries.
May said “It is a testament of Singapore’s inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy.”
Diplomatic relations between Singapore and Myanmar might be tested after the recent detention of a Singaporean journalist by Myanmar’s police.
According to the Straits Times the man is accused of illegally importing a drone. While there are no specific laws on drones, anyone who imports restricted, prohibited or banned goods can be fined and jailed for up to three years.
So what is Singapore’s diplomatic silver bullet?
It might be reciprocity. Singapore offers visa-free access to nationals of six of the eight countries requiring a visa for Swiss nationals but not Singaporeans. Only deals with China and Azerbaijan are one-way in Singapore’s favour.
A Swiss passport trumps a Singaporean one in four countries: Guyana, Venezuela, Sao Tome and Principe and Ethiopia. And, only one of these is reciprocal visa-free deal: Venezuela.
Interestingly, like Switzerland, Singapore allows Venezuelans visa-free entry. However, unlike Switzerland, Venezuela doesn’t offer the same convenience to Singaporeans.
The top ten passports are:
1. 159 – Singapore
2. 158 – Germany
3. 157 – Sweden, South Korea
4. 156 – Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom
5. 155 – Luxemburg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Portugal
6. 154 – Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, United States of America
7. 153 – Australia, Greece, New Zealand
8. 152 – Malta, Czech Republic, Iceland
9. 150 – Hungary
10. 149 – Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia
You can see the full list of passports on the Passport Index website. The index can be navigated via a world map, a list of countries or, for the aesthetically minded, by passport colour.