Friday 27 October 2017

Singapore Passport is World's Most Powerful: 2017 Global Passport Power Rank Index; Passport to get new design and additional security features

Singapore has the 'most powerful' passport in the world
Republic's inclusive diplomacy cited as it pips Germany to be first Asian nation to top index
By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2017

With Paraguay removing visa requirements for Singaporeans, the Singapore passport is now the "most powerful" in the world, with a visa-free score of 159.

This marks the first time an Asian country has the most powerful passport, according to the index, which was developed by global advisory firm Arton Capital.

"It is a testament of Singapore's inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy," managing director of Arton Capital's Singapore office Philippe May said of the development.

The index ranks national passports by the cross-border access they bring, assigning a "visa-free score" based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free, or with a visa on arrival.

Passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories were considered.

Historically, the top 10 most powerful passports in the world tend to be European, with Germany in the lead for the past two years, according to a press statement issued yesterday.

Since early this year, Germany's No. 1 position had been shared with Singapore, which was steadily moving up the ranks.

Other Asian passports in the top 20 include those of South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

The United States passport has fallen in ranking since US President Donald Trump took office, according to the index. Most recently, Turkey and the Central African Republic revoked their visa-free status for US passport holders.

"Visa-free global mobility has become an important factor in today's world," founder and president of Arton Capital Armand Arton said at the recently held Global Citizen Forum in Montenegro.

"More and more people every year invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a second passport to offer better opportunity and security for their families," he added.

Singapore was also fourth this year in the Visa Restrictions Index, another ranking of travel freedom, which uses a different method of calculating how "powerful" a passport is. The index says that Singapore passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 173 countries.

Germany is No. 1 on this year's Visa Restrictions Index, which is published by Henley & Partners. It has visa-free access to 176 countries out of a possible 218, according to the index.

Singapore passports to sport new design and security features from 21 October 2017
They will be tougher to forge or tamper with; documents with new design for applications from Oct 21
By Lee Min Kok, The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2017

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is introducing a new design for the Singapore biometric passport, which comes with additional security features.

This will make the Singapore passport harder to forge or tamper with, ICA said yesterday.

There are two new security features - the image of the passport holder inside a window which can be viewed as a positive or negative portrait when tilted and viewed in transmitted light; and a surface transformation design in the shape of the national flower, which displays reflective and animation effects at different angles.

Enhanced features that provide additional security include the multiple laser image in the shape of the Singapore map and an embossed tactile design.

The passport's visa pages will also sport new designs featuring six iconic landmarks - the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Esplanade, Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Sports Hub and Punggol New Town. These will replace the existing image of the Central Business District skyline and Esplanade.

ICA said those whose passport applications were received from Oct 21 will be issued with the new passports, which will be available for collection from Monday.

Those collecting their passports between Monday and Nov 15 will need to go to the ICA Building in Kallang. After that, passports can also be collected at selected post offices.

Singaporeans with existing valid passports do not need to replace their current ones.

More details on the new design can be found on the ICA website.

ICA also said there is no change to the passport application fee, which remains at $80. Applicants who apply for the passport online, by post or through a deposit box will enjoy a rebate of $10, and pay $70 instead.

This week, a passport index ranked the Singapore passport as the "most powerful" in the world, ahead of countries such as Germany, Sweden and South Korea.

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