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Singapore's passport dethrones Japan as world's most powerful

If you hold a Singaporean passport, you're in luck.

The Southeast Asian country's citizenship document officially ranks as the most powerful in the world, according to the latest Henley Passport Index, which was published Tuesday.

According to the index, Singaporeans can travel to 192 out of 227 travel destinations in the world without a visa.

In a "major shake-up," Singapore beat out Japan, which has ranked No. 1 on the index for the last five years. 

Japan fell behind Germany, Italy and Spain, all of whom are tied for second place, boasting 190 visa-free travel destinations for their passport holders.  

Japan is now in a tie for third on the index with six other nations: Austria, France, Finland, Luxembourg, South Korea and Sweden with 189 destinations without a visa.  

In comparison, the U.S. was quite a bit lower on the index, dropping down a spot from last year to eighth place, tied with Lithuania, with 184 travel destinations without a visa. 

The U.S. and the United Kingdom have both been on a downward trend since 2014, when their passports ranked No. 1 in the world.

Over the last decade the U.S. has increased the number of destinations that its citizens can travel to without visas by 12, Henley & Partners said. However, that marks the smallest increase for any nation in the index's top 10. 

According to Henley & Partners, a London-based global migration consultant group, only eight countries have seen less visa access than they had a decade ago.

Greg Lindsay, a global strategist at Cornell Tech's Jacobs Institute, said America's fall in the passport ranking is an indicator that the U.S. and other Western countries are "falling behind."

"America's relentless slide down the rankings — and unlikelihood of reclaiming the highest position any time soon — is a warning to its neighbor Canada and the rest of the Anglosphere as well," Lindsay said in a statement.

The U.S. also ranks low on "openness," only allowing 44 other nationalities to visit visa-free.

The index found that the three weakest passports in the world are Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which can take you to 30, 29 and 27 destinations, respectively.

While many travelers have been seeing more freedom to travel visa-free over the years, the gap between the top and the bottom of the rankings has also widened.

"The general trend over the history of the 18-year-old ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, with the average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free nearly doubling from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023," Henley & Partners said. "However, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than it has ever been, with top-ranked Singapore able to access 165 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan."

The index is based upon exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association, a major travel information database.

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