Vietnamese passport is still among world's least powerful on the Henley Passport Index 2019. Photo by Shutterstock/tuanminh
On the Henley Passport Index 2019, a Vietnamese passport is only slightly more powerful than Myanmar among Southeast Asian neighbors, with visa
free access to 51 destinations, three more than the latters’ 48 countries.
Laos has surpassed Vietnam to claim the 86th in the global index, gaining two positions from last year.
Singapore and Malaysia have the most powerful passports in the region, the former standing second in the world with visa exemption from 189 countries and the latter 12th with 179 countries.
The region’s biggest economy, Indonesia has gone down from 69th last year to 72nd this year.
Globally, Singapore shares its second spot with the Republic of Korea.
Japan has overtaken Singapore to have the most powerful passport in the world in 2019, with its citizens able to visit 190 countries and territories without applying for a visa.
France and Germany share the third rank; Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden share the fourth; followed by Luxembourg and Spain in fifth.
With the Donald Trump administration pursuing a more hostile immigration policy than his predecessors, the US has lost its throne as the most powerful passport in the world.
This year, the American passport has fallen to sixth, down one place from last year and five from top rank in 2015.
The world’s weakest passports come from poor countries mired in conflict like Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Passport holders from these nations can only visit between 32 and 39 other countries without visas.
The Henley Passport Index, released early this month, ranked passports of 199 countries and territories in the world based on data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of travel information.
"The latest ranking shows that despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, many countries remain committed to collaboration," Christian H. Kälin, group chairman of Henley & Partners, said in a statement.
He said the growing trend towards visa openness is unlikely to slow down. Overall, 2019 looks set to hold "some surprises in the travel freedom space as more countries and citizens embrace the benefits of global mobility," he said.