The political intricacies regarding how trusted a nation is by another that people could travel between them without need for a travel visa in their passports, can be too complex for most persons. What can be discerned however is that “passport power” is a major factor to consider for international travellers, with the biggest amount of visa-free country access one can have. The past years had the Philippines on a seesaw of sorts, on the bottom half of the best national passports list and moving incrementally up and down it. On the latest report from Henley & Partners index, the Filipino passport has climbed a spot, with added visa-free nations.
The Philippine Star reports that the Philippines moved up from 77th to 76th place in the latest iteration of the Henley & Partners passport index (HPI). Its current passport power is now 67 foreign countries, now accessible without visa. Both the Philippines and the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan share rank 76 on the HPI, which is still rather down from the national passport’s high point of 72nd place back in January 2018. Then again, the Filipino passport reached that rank two years ago with 63 visa-free countries, illustrating the dynamic shifting of passport power.
It does not change the fact however that many of the Philippines’ fellow Southeast Asian nations are way ahead of the Philippines when it comes to visa-free friendliness. Occupying spots ahead of the country’s passport are Indonesia at HPI rank 72, Thailand at 65th, Brunei at 23rd, and Malaysia at 13th. Singapore, which originally shared the top spot with Japan as the world’s most powerful passport (190 visa-free destinations) has slipped a rank to second place. This means Japan is now the sole top dog in global passport power by adding one more nation that requires no visa for travel.
These figures do see a trend in the emerging trend in which Asian nations are becoming even friendlier in visa-free access for their passports compared to the old-guard western countries. These include the United States and United Kingdom, which continue their downward journey in the Henley & Partners index, owing to their governments becoming more stringent with travel requirements. The highest-ranked European country on the list is Germany at third place (189 visa-free nations), but it shares that honor with South Korea, another Asian power.
According to H&P chairperson Christian Kaenlin, Asia’s rise in passport power is due to their pursuance of open-door policies for travel as well as beneficial trade agreements, two factors the US and UK have been shying from in recent times. Of course, not all Asian countries are as ascendant. Afghanistan is still stuck at the bottom with 26 visa-free destinations.
Image from Filipino Times