New Zealand passport ranked the 8th 'most powerful' in the world

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The Japanese passport is now the most powerful in the world, after it overtook Singapore in Henley Passport Index's fourth-quarter update, released on Wednesday (Oct 10).

At the same time, Japan has the best visa-free access, as holders of Japanese passports may visit 190 countries without a visa, which was a record for the entire existence of the index.

Last year, a ranking of passports by worldwide global financial advisory firm Arton Capital showed that the Philippine passport is moderately weak, with its holders having visa-free access to only 61 countries.

This year, UAE citizens have gained visa-free access to several new countries including Ireland, Canada and China and overall it has secured more new visa waivers this year than any other country.

The US and the United Kingdom, both with 186 destinations, have slid down yet another spot - from fourth to fifth place - with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. While Chinese nationals got access to two new areas visa-free or visa-on-arrival, it still slide down tow places to just 71st.

The biggest mover since 2006 is the UAE, from 62nd place to 21st place.

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"It is therefore with much enthusiasm that we greet the latest announcement from South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba about the planned revisions to South Africa's visa policy, which pave the wave for a number of reciprocal waivers for South African passport-holders".

Countries with passports that make for easier travel on the continent include Japan and Iceland - but Americans have it easiest of all.

Two countries are still at the bottom spot.

Kosovo, ranked 97, might see a dramatic rise in the index in future, after it met the criteria for visa liberalisation with the European Union, meaning the relatively new nation might be able to travel visa-free across the EU soon. Newcomer Moldova, due to launch its CBI program in November, climbed 20 places since 2008.

Japan recently acquired visa-free access to Myanmar, helping it beat passport rival Singapore. "The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant for individuals, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative".

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