| Azlan Othman |
WITH visa-free access to 165 destinations, Brunei Darussalam’s passport has been ranked 18th globally in the latest Henley Passport Index.
The Sultanate moved up four notches compared to a survey carried out earlier this year in February.
Brunei Darussalam is third in Southeast Asia after Singapore which shares the second spot with Germany globally with visa-free access to 188 countries and Malaysia which is ninth globally with visa-free access to 180 countries.
The Henley Passport Index is formulated based on data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world’s largest database of travel information. Additional research was also used to supplement the index.
The index surveyed a total of 199 different passports against 227 different travel destinations, including countries, territories, and micro-states.
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.
“As the world economy has become increasingly globalised, the need for greater visa-free access has grown steadily. Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale,” Henley said in the report.
Wealthy individuals in particular are more cosmopolitan and transnational today than ever before, with roots, networks, assets, properties, and even citizenship spanning multiple countries. In many ways, global connectivity has become an indispensable feature of wealth creation and wealth preservation, and its value will only grow as regional volatility and instability increase, the report added.
Japan has overtaken in the global ranking for the most powerful passport.
The Japanese passport now offers its citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a record 189 destinations.
The Singapore passport is in second place, tied with Germany, with a total of 188 destinations accessible without a prior visa.
Coming in third are South Korea, Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, while the United States and the United Kingdom are tied at fourth place.
In an earlier ranking published on February 28, Singapore and Japan were tied for the top spot, with visa-free access to 180 destinations. Germany was in second place, with its passport providing visa-free access to 179 destinations.
In April, Russia announced that visas would be waived for all travellers with tickets to the FIFA World Cup in June and July.
The country is ranked 47th in the latest ranking, falling from its previous spot at 45th.
The fastest overall climber on the list is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently in 23rd place. The country has climbed 38 places in the ranking since 2008.
The UAE’s rise came after the country secured more new visa-waivers “than any other jurisdiction in the world” this year, said Henley & Partners.
Earlier this year, Henley Passport Index ranked Brunei’s passport 22nd globally with visa-free access to 153 countries, up one place from 23rd in 2017. In the regional ranking of Southeast Asian countries, Brunei ranked third.