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What Difference Does A Passport Make For Expats?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Singapore may have jumped to the top of ratings for the world’s most powerful passports, but the fuss doesn’t make much of a day-to-day difference for expats.

Holding a Singapore passport allows easy access without a visa to 192 countries of the world’s 227 countries.

The passport is not powerful like many immigration experts would have travellers believe. Holders gain no benefit or superpower from a Singapore passport other than enjoying visa-free travel.

And that’s available to expats holding lots of different passports.

Passports are like satellite TV – you get dozens of options, but most do the same thing.

Singapore v UK Passport

For instance, comparing the visa-free access destinations for Singapore and British passports, the differences in places to visit without a visa are:

Angola, Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ghana, Guinea, Iran, Kenya, Myanmar, and Uganda are visa-free destinations for Singapore passport holders. British passport holders need a visa to visit these places.

British passport holders can go to Gabon, Guyana, Iraq, Niue, Sao Tome, Ukraine and Venezuela without a visa, while Singapore passport holders must have a visa.

Besides these listings, Singapore and British passport holders have visa-free access to dozens of the same places, making the description ‘most powerful’ irrelevant.

Top Passports For Visa-Free Travel

Besides Singapore, another 32 countries made the top 10 ranking for visa-free travel.

The trend of the past two decades has been for governments to expand visa-free travel.

RankCountryCountries offering visa-free access







South Korea




United Kingdom

Czech Republic


New Zealand







United States



Source: Henley & Partners

Passports With Least Visa-Free Travel

The countries with the fewest visa-free travel options are among the least likely many expats would want to visit.

They include countries ravaged by civil war, famine, drought and economic instability.

Pakistan and Afghanistan were recently rated as two of the world’s unhappiest countries by expats.

RankCountryCountries offering visa-free access

Sri Lanka
97North Korea39

Palestinian Territories

Source: Henley & Partners

What Is A Golden Visa?

Many countries offer golden visas to expats willing to invest significant money in return for a visa or residence permit.

The EU countries of Portugal, Malta and Cyprus ran some of the most popular recent schemes. The governments asked investors and entrepreneurs outside Europe to pledge millions of pounds. The reward for investing was residence or citizenship, a visa-free travel passport and often tax breaks.

Many golden visa schemes have closed due to complaints from other EU governments or waning popularity, but many are still open to wealthy expats.

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Why Move On A Golden Visa?

Buying a golden visa makes sense for many expats because they can travel more quickly and widely. They also benefit from tax breaks when they move their money overseas.

Singapore runs one of Asia’s most popular golden visa programs – the Golden Investor Program (GIP).

Expats can qualify by investing £1.5 million in a new or existing business.

Besides visa-free travel, the program offers permanent residency.

Visa And Passport FAQ

This comprehensive FAQ section answers common questions about visas and passports. Learn about visa-free travel and more.

What is a passport?

A passport is an official travel document issued by a government that verifies someone’s identity. The passport is a request from the issuing government to a foreign government asking permission for the holder to travel or live under their jurisdiction.

What is a visa?

A visa is an extension to a passport that allows the holder to enter a country for a specific purpose, like a working visa, student visa or tourist visa.

What is visa-free travel?

Travelling to any country where you do not need a visa to enter is called visa-free travel.

One of the best global examples is the European Union’s Schengen Area. Once a traveller enters the area, they do not need a visa to cross borders between EU countries.

How many different visas are there?

Travellers can apply for lots of different visas. The main ones are for work, tourism or for students. Others are for business trips, refugees and family members. Travellers may need transit visas to pass through a third country to another.

Where can British expats live without a visa?

Anyone with a British passport can travel around the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man without a visa.

Is Singapore popular with British expats?

Around 45,000 British expats live in Singapore, out of a population of 5.5 million people.

Where is the full powerful passport listing?

The powerful passport ranking and comparison tool is available online

How many countries issue passports?

The number is subject to regular change but currently stands at 197.

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.


  1. Henley & Partners – Visa Restrictions Index:
  2. Singapore Government Official Website:
  3. UK Government – Passports and Immigration:
  4. European Union Official Website:

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