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High demand for S'pore passport due to its wide access

The Straits Times | Joyce Lim | Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

A Singapore passport remains one of the most welcome in the world, research has found.

As of last year, it offered visa-free access to 167 of 219 countries surveyed for the latest Visa Restrictions Index.

It was ranked sixth internationally - alongside Australia and Greece - for the unrestricted access it offers. This was up from eighth place in 2012, when it offered such access to 161 countries, and ninth in 2011 when it was waved through in 164.

Citizens of Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom held the best passports for global travel last year, with visa-free access to 173 countries.

Consultancy firm Henley & Partners carried out the study in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association.

Henley's chairman Christian Kalin told The Straits Times yesterday that Singapore passports are in "high demand".

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli had told Parliament on Monday that around 7,000 passports have been reported lost or stolen in each of the last five years.

Mr Kalin called Singapore "one of the premier residence options in the world today".

"The Singaporean Government is making great efforts to attract talent and good human capital to facilitate the growth of its economy," he said. "The Government's intention is for foreigners to make Singapore their home, so there are a number of incentives and benefits for citizens."

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority was unable to provide a more detailed breakdown of the figure revealed by Mr Masagos - such as how many passports were lost overseas.

Mr Masagos also said about 350 travellers have been caught carrying forged or tampered passports at Singapore checkpoints in each of the last five years. He gave no further details.

Among the 52 countries and territories requiring Singaporeans to obtain a visa are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iraq, Myanmar, Kazakhstan and Yemen.

Singaporeans can travel freely to Canada, China, the European Union and the United States.

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