The Straits Times/Asia News Network
In an earlier ranking published on Feb. 28, Singapore and Japan were tied for the top spot, with visa-free access to 180 destinations. (Shutterstock/-)
Japan has overtaken Singapore in the global ranking for the most powerful passport, according to the latest update released by the Henley Passport Index on Wednesday.
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 United Kingdom are tied at fourth place.
In an earlier ranking published on Feb. 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.
The index, compiled by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, said nearly 40 visa-waiver agreements have been signed by governments since the start of the year.
In April, Russia announced that visas would be waived for all travellers with tickets to the upcoming Fifa World Cup in June and July. The country is ranked 47th in the latest ranking, falling from its previous spot at 45th position.
The fastest overall climber on the list is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently in 23rd place. The country has climbed 38 places on 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.
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.
In a rival ranking by Arton Capital updated in April, the Singapore passport was ranked the most powerful in the world with a visa-free score of 164.
The firm's latest index ranked South Korea second, with a score of 163, and Germany and Japan tied in third place with a score of 161.