| Azlan Othman |
BRUNEI Darussalam’s passport is now the 20th most powerful in the world, according to the Henley Passport Index for 2018, after improving two places from last year’s report.
The Sultanate enjoys visa free/visa on arrival access to 165 destinations.
The index – compiled by Henley and Partners, a global residence and citizenship advisory firm headquartered in London – ranks the world’s passports according to the number of countries or states their holders can travel to visa-free.
It is updated in real-time as and when visa-policy changes come into effect, and based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and in-house research, Henley and Partners said.
In 2017, the Henley Passport Index ranked Brunei’s passport 22nd globally with visa-free access to 153 countries, up one place from 23rd in 2016.
Claiming top spot after overtaking Singapore meanwhile, is Japan.
Having gained visa-free access to Myanmar earlier this month, the country now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189.
Japan and Singapore have been neck and neck on the index ever since they both climbed to first place in February following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan, pushing Germany down to second place for the first time since 2014, according to the release.
This quarter, Germany has fallen further to third place, which it now shares with South Korea and France.
France rose up from fourth to third place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan, while South Korea moved from fourth to third place on October 1 when it gained visa-free access to Myanmar.
Germany, France and South Korea all have a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 188. Iraq and Afghanistan continue to occupy the bottom (106th) spot of the index, with their citizens only able to gain access to 30 destinations.
The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have also slid down one spot from fourth to fifth place with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the beginning of 2018.
Stagnant outbound visa activity compared to high-performing Asian nations such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea means that it is increasingly unlikely that the US and UK will regain the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.
Airing his thoughts on the developments, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners Dr Christian H Kälin said, “The Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is an important tool for measuring not only the relative strength of the world’s passports but also the extraordinary results that states can achieve when they work hand in hand with their global peers to build a more interconnected and collaborative world.
“China and the UAE exemplify this kind of progress, with both states among the highest overall climbers compared to 2017, purely as a result of the strong relationships they have built with partner countries around the world.”
In another ranking last year, global financial advisory firm Arton Capital named Brunei Darussalam as the 22nd most powerful passport in the world.