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Singapore continues to share the crown of ‘World’s Most Powerful Passport’ with incumbent nation Japan, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.
As of 1 July 2019, both Japanese and Singaporean passport holders can travel to 189 countries hassle-free, without the need for a visa.
In second place sits South Korea, Germany and Finland, which grants access to 187 other countries visa-free.
The ranks of third to eighth are shared by seventeen European countries, plus Canada, the USA and the UK all in sixth place with 183 countries open to their passports.
Australia is parked in ninth place alongside New Zealand, Iceland and Lithuania, with visa-free access to 180 countries – this was previously 183 in October 2018.
Trailing the bottom of the pack is Afghanistan, whose citizens can only access 25 other countries without a visa, down from 30 in October 2018.
So what makes a 'powerful passport'? Essentially, it's one that lets any ordinary citizen visit and enter other countries without needing to apply for a full visa with the government beforehand.
This includes situations where a visa isn't required, or if travellers can easily obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor's permit or an electronic travel authority in the case of visa-waiver programs, like between Australia and the USA.
The more countries one can enter with a passport in this fashion, the more 'powerful' it is considered to be.
Travelling on an Australian Passport
For Australian travellers, our passports afford us relatively good freedom when journeying abroad.
However, there are still a few destinations where either a visa is required beforehand or a fee has to be paid on arrival, such as China and Chile.
China generally requires tourists and business travellers to apply for a visa beforehand. But they allow a 144-hour ‘Transit Without Visa’ if you are heading onwards to another destination.
Chile charges a ‘reciprocity’ fee of US$117 ($166) to Australian travellers arriving in Santiago by air, although it’s technically still visa-free access and the Henley Passport Index considers it as such.
Even entry into the USA and Canada usually requires an electronic 'visa waiver permit', which involves you filling out an application and paying a fee – US$14 ($20) for an ESTA, or CA$7 ($7.60) for an eTA.
The majority of the 180 countries that Australians can travel to visa-free will generally allow a stay of 90 days/3 months, although it can vary between 7 days to 6 months.
For example, Aussie travellers within the European ‘Schengen Area’ are allowed to stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day period for business or leisure, visa-free.